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RPS Asks: Why Are We Sad About Pre-Ordering?

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Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about… pre-ordering video games. If you were overcome by sadness, don’t worry: that’s common.

Sadness is the primary emotion expressed on social media about pre-ordering games, according to one of Adobe’s marketing data arms. Their report is all very wishy-washy, but it can still start an interesting conversation: why do pre-orders make people sad, and why do we still do it?

The study put together by Adobe Digital Index about the games market includes numbers on “social emotions around pre-ordering”, looking at instances of folks chatting about pre-orders on social media and somehow breaking their tone down into five arbitrary emotions: joy; admiration; surprise; anticipation; and sadness.

Sadness came out top, at 33%.

The study also claims that pre-orders on big games this year are higher than in 2014.

Yes, you could point out that the distinction between joy, admiration, and anticipation is probably pointless in this context. You could question the validity of their un(der)explained techniques. You might wonder which emotions made up the other 20%. You should do all these things; like many market research studies, it seems awfully puffy. Doesn’t mean it’s not still an interesting starting point.

Pre-orders are sold to us as big exciting opportunities, which of course they’re not. They’re good for publishers, but what we usually get is a DLC trinket in return for gambling that the game won’t turn out to be something we wouldn’t buy. Given how wonky some games are at launch and how unremarkable many turn out to be, it’s often not a great bet. You’ll see folks lamenting “I hope it doesn’t suck”.

If I pre-order anything nowadays, it’ll usually be a game I’m fairly certain I’ll buy anyway because I’m real into the series or adore its developers – and because it has a respectable pre-order discount. I’ll still find myself muttering “I hope it doesn’t suck.”

I wonder how much of Adobe’s results was people who haven’t pre-ordered anything simply saying “Pre-orders suck.” They really are unclear.

So, dear readers, do you pre-order, and why? And how does that make you feel?

[Ta to Gamasutra for spotting this.]

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Alice O'Connor

News Editor

When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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