Why You Should Wait On That Pre-order
In 2016 hype is the name of the game. Well, at least the middle name. Most gamers aren’t the same type of audience that camps out overnight for a certain fruit themed rectangle, but the market to pre-order most popular games is steadily growing with every major platform release. But we all remember…
Look, we were as excited as anyone else for No Man’s Sky. It sounded perfect. Like a dream of gamers everywhere come true. An open universe sci-fi bastardization of GTA, Spore, Fallout and the PS Network ambient adventure Journey. We could be space explorers! Or space pirates! Or space bounty hunters!
So when the game finally was released thousands of players gleefully downloaded their “exclusive“ premiere, and buckled in…. for a lot of resource collecting.
We’re not going to get into all the ways that NMS let us down. By this point, there’re entire Youtube channels dedicated to that. We’ve talked about the game here on GamerPrompt. But No Man’s Sky definitely got us thinking. There’s not much else to do while mining for plutonium.
After a year of hype and excitement, we played ourselves. We accepted vague answers from developers, defended the game to our friends despite the warning signs, and ultimately forgot that procedurally generated games are usually… well, boring. Minecraft continues to be so popular because it is an exception, not a rule. Intelligent design is fun. Custom crafted levels and maps are intriguing. But instead, we got lost in what was promised for a game that deep down we all knew could never deliver.
It’s not just about No Man’s Sky. Every single year, even “casual” gamers preorder the newest release of their favorite sports franchise. Right now, NBA 2K17 is poised to become the most popular release in the 2K series. And in many, many of those cases, buyers did the exact same thing the year before. Nothing’s wrong with a dedicated customer base, as Nintendo has shown despite their string of lackluster releases. But far too often gamers let sponsors, early reviews and hype inform our buying decisions. While we can’t fault anyone for getting excited about upcoming releases, the decision to pre-order for games like No Man’s Sky are based entirely on marketing.
If gamers treated other consumer products like we responded to pre-orders that let us down, the world would be a very angry place. Imagine if we took other marketing ploys literally. “Diet Dr. Pepper doesn’t taste exactly like regular Dr. Pepper” or “I ordered McDonalds but I’m not Lovin’ It!”
What if your Pre-order sucks?
Players demanding refunds for a game they chose to order before any reviews or actual gameplay was released (and then spent upwards of 60 hours playing) are the equivalent of someone asking for their meal to be comped after eating all the meat and seafood out of the pasta.
There’s plenty of perfectly good reasons for pre-orders, like in the case of the NBA 2K series mentioned above and its long track record of quality games. Each new release has updated rosters, improved mechanics and usually a few new features. Often new releases of competitive games with online play, while a sneaky move from developers, ensure that the most populated servers are usually restricted to the latest updates. And sometimes it’s just fun to get excited about new toys, as Apple has proven. The way video games are developed and released is changing pretty quickly. Smaller development teams and indie gaming platforms are learning to compliment, not compete with the big game franchises we all grew up with.
With the sheer quantity of games out there already, and new platforms soon on their way, maybe it’s a good idea to take a step back and find a game that’s already shown itself to be a fun experience. Revisit old consoles, explore indie game networks, or maybe pick up FFXII again before pre-ordering FFXV – even though you hated it the first time.
All I’m saying is that maybe we should wait on that pre-order.