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


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.]


  1. Xocrates says:

    Nowadays, I generally only do Launch Day pre-orders. Which is when the reviews are out, but you can still get the pre-order bonus – though I generally only care if the bonus is a discount. I will generally only break this rule if I get a really good deal on a game I would likely buy anyway.

  2. BlazeHedgehog says:

    I pre-order for convenience of not having to worry about going out and buying a game on launch day. Instead, it will be automatically delivered the moment it is available to me.

    I feel pretty good about that. I don’t pre-order to get crummy pre-order “swag.” I don’t care about the $5 statue they’re charging an extra $40 for. Never have, never will.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      That’s fair enough, I suppose – but do you really “go out and buy” something? Because three or four clicks in Steam to buy it when it comes out is no great hardship. (If you prefer not to use Steam, then I suppose it makes sense)

      • KenTWOu says:

        Some regions don’t have regional prices on Steam. So pre-ordering a game digitally through Steam is not an option.

    • SomeDuder says:

      Youre talking about console games, right?

      Or did you not know about Steam’s wishlisht feature?

      I’m 100% genuinly curious as to which it is and why. WHY.

  3. theodacourt says:

    I pre-order very rarely. I usually save it for beloved franchises and the like. I think fallout 4 will be the only one this year for me. I can remember being so sad when my pre-order for Hitman Absolution got shipped just as reviews hit… at least they let me return it.

    I guess pre-ordering serves a purpose for some people, it’s not like you are forced to do it. You just need to know if it’s right for you as an individual or not. I don’t mind finding a cheap pre-order if I’m pretty certain I’ll like it. If it’s the same price then there’s no point as you can wait until launch anyway.

    • Premium User Badge

      distantlurker says:

      Same here. Fallout 4 is the only game I’ve pre-ordered all year.

      I’m fully aware that day 1 will likely be a buggy mess but equally, I’m going to love it. I always do.

      Fallout, Elder Scrolls (single player), Vanilla Civ, GTA. These are just about the only titles I pre-order any more because they’ve never let me down (I’ll even buy season passes, if they’re going).

    • TobleroneRoloCombo says:

      Was one of the unlucky ones that pre-ordered Absolution as well. Remember looking at reviews shortly before release, and just going “Oh, it’s a review of the game I’m getting, awesome!” Swiftly followed by a sunken “Oh…”

      Latex nun assassins is always a warning in the future. Only preordered one game since, and honestly, despite me liking the developers, I was honestly fairly disappointed with it, and only played it for a few minutes.

      I haven’t pre-ordered anything in over two years, at least.

      • rabbit says:

        mm me neither – well , not this year. might have preordered something last year but can’t remember what. these days i lean strongly towards the idea that i know what games i’m gunna get either way & tend not to preorder out of principle. the cancerous deus ex preorder just strengthened that resolve.

        don’t get me wrong – unless something goes drastically wrong, i’m definitely gunna be getting fallout 4, xcom 2, deus ex, etc etc etc … but i just don’t really like supporting the increasingly brazen fleecing techniques of the videogame publishing industry.

    • stonetoes says:

      Fallout 4 is the only game I’ve EVER pre-ordered, and that only happened because I found a site offering a 25% discount. Oh, and the hundreds of hours I put into Fallout 3/2/1/New Vegas.

      • instantcoffe says:

        I preordered because I found a 50% discount (coupon that wasn’t supposed to work on GMG). I also thought that I could then preload the damn thing before it went live, but it seems GMG doesn’t give out the keys in advance, so 50% off is my final answer.

        • stonetoes says:

          Aw man, that’s the same site I used but I just tried the regular old 25% off voucher code.

        • welverin says:

          GMG does tend to give keys out early, but usually only a few days early.

          In the case of Fallout 4, once the game is available for preloading on Steam GMG should have your key ready.

  4. DrollRemark says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever pre-ordered anything (although that might be a lie, but I’m struggling to think of any), possibly because I just don’t have the patience/inclination to pay for something that won’t turn up for ages. I’ve also only ever backed one Kickstarter, and it wasn’t games related.

    I am Christopher McCautious, and I like granola, the colour grey, and looking both ways twice before I cross the road.

    • DrollRemark says:

      An addendum to this: I have considered games-related Kickstarters before, but never quite gone in for them, for various reasons. However, I feel far more comfortable with the explicitness of it’s “here is a few quid towards a game I hope* you finish” message than what is basically the same with pre-ordering, but dressed up as the selling company somehow doing me a huge favour.

    • Jeremy says:

      Before digital marketplaces, I would pre-order, but that was just for the guaranteed copy of game at launch day. Now with Steam, there isn’t a finite resource on available game day units. Now, the only time I will pre-order is through Kickstarter, and even that is more about making sure that the game I want to play is actually made.

      • Jeremy says:

        I hate that I started back to back sentences with the same word.

  5. Bishop149 says:

    I generally avoid pre-ordering, as said tis mostly merely a commercial mechanism to foist rubbish upon idiots. It might have made a bit more sense in the days when games were physical and initial supply was limited, but in these digital days that argument doesn’t really apply.

    But then I also very rarely buy on release, why would you when a mere few month later it will half the price? Waiting a bit is just good economic sense. . . . it will also probably be patched up to a decent state by then.

    On the few times when I have thrown all this common sense out the window is if I’m SUPER excited about a new release. Very very rare but when it does I’d be in that 2% at the end, most of the time I’m not on the in the study group.
    And yeah I wager most of the 33% is: “I was excited and the game turned out to be a huge disappointment”

    • HeavyStorm says:

      This. I see little reason to order a fresh game, let alone pre order it, given that it’ll be half the price in a few weeks (Steam spoiled me).

      I do have exceptions (well, one: The Witcher), and I ponder whether I’m missing out on the fun – multiplayer games are very enjoyable around release but many times lose audience after a while, for instance, but other than that, I respect my money too much to buy stuff when they are pricey.

      One the subject I remember pre ordering Black & White many years ago (more than a decade!). I didn’t payed more than its initial value nor got trinkets. But I purchased in the blind. And even with a few first reviews praising the game, it sucked. So I got sad.

    • Bishop149 says:

      On the related issue of Kickstarter / Early access
      I have been known to do both

      Kickstarter is essentially a pre-order but one that feels like its being a little (oh ok A LOT!) more honest about the fact you don’t know what you’re buying, and you may not get anything. All made clear in big letters from the outset.

      Early access titles are just unfinished games, 80% of them are basically unplayable and the rest have glaring holes, which is fine as long as they are priced appropriately. I tend to look at them as follows:
      – Does it look promising / cool?
      – Is the community feeding reporting good dev support / involvement?
      – Is the price fair for the product in its current state?
      If all those boxes are ticked I might buy it and probably not play it until 1.0. Basically hoping the early access price turns out to be a bargain.
      Early access games charging as much as a fully finished AAA title can sod the hell out of dodge. What kind of moron buys those?!

  6. Stropp says:

    I have only pre-ordered once, and that was with Age of Conan (of all things.)

    I was anticipating it, and in a conversation with the shop dude was told they had limited copies available. So I put $10 down.

    But normally I don’t feel the need to get in ahead of time, and am patient enough to wait. And these days most games are digital anyway so it doesn’t really make any difference. Except for the pre-order bonuses I guess.

    • That guy says:

      I really hate the concept of “preorder bonuses” its just a punishment for people that dont like to throw money blindly after being screwed one too many times

  7. dangermouse76 says:

    Pre ordering is an investment in an unproven product. I try to avoid that in all purchases where possible. Also the quality of released games has enforced this belief that waiting for reviews and for the game to ” bed-in” is a smart idea.

    It’s also this reason I would not invest money I am not happy to loose into a kickstarter ( I have invested none so far ).

  8. HuvaaKoodia says:

    I don’t preorder, or buy new titles at launch to begin with, for the following reasons (in order of importance):
    – A backlog of hundreds of older titles.
    – Higher probability of bugs and problems
    – Early reviews and public reaction can be misleading and overblown (for example: Bioshock Infinite)
    – Higher price

    So, I’m not sad about it. Baffled more than anything, what’s the point?

  9. mattevansc3 says:

    I used to preorder quite a bit but after Fable 3 and Dragon Age 2 I ended up with Pre-Buyers regret. Then Dragon Age Inquisition rolled up and the only place to get all the pre-order goodies was Origin. I was excited enough for this game to dip my toes but then Green Man Gaming and CDKeys were offering the base game for less than half the price of Origin’s Deluxe Edition. Then I started to ask myself was that additional DLC worth that much money? No it wasn’t but did I want to buy “half a game”? (I’ve got a compulsion for having to have the whole package…might be down to my ASD). That took the excitement away and I ended up not buying it all.

    In fluffy terms I’d say my emotional response to pre-orders is fear. The “fear” of missing out and not getting the whole bundle against the “fear” of spending all that money on a game I may not end up liking.

    • Wulfram says:

      The pre-order stuff was pretty meaningless, I don’t see why anyone would be bothered by missing out on it.

      (Bioware should actually get a small amount of credit for this. They didn’t do major day 1 DLC for DAI because people complained about it.)

  10. TheAngriestHobo says:

    I’ve certainly backed crowdfunded games before (including a few disappointments), but as mentioned above, crowdfunding is a whole different ballgame. I’ve never pre-ordered a game, although Alcohol did once on my behalf (damn you, Alcohol!). It meant well, but… never again.

    I recently noticed on Steam that one of my friends pre-ordered FO4, which had me shaking my head. That’s definitely one I’m waiting for reviews, patches, mod tools, and sales for before I even think of purchasing.

  11. Stirbelwurm says:

    I think I only ever pre-ordered two times. And both times it was something from The Binding of Isaac.

    I pre-ordered the next DLC for Rebirth, since it has a nice discount, I want to support the developer and we were shown already quite a bit from the DLC and I can’t think of a reason why this expansion should not be awesome. I this case I feel I know enough about what I’m going to get, to feel safe about this investment.
    I wouldn’t do it with a new game, where there is usually no real way to tell how it turns out (even if it’s just another entry in a long running series).

  12. kud13 says:

    I never pre-order games, unless they are made by CDPRED. because a) I adored the Witcher games and
    b) I pre-ordered on GOG, to support a DRM-free release of a AAA title.

    I occasionally support Kickstarters, but I don’t consider those pre-orders, since if I happen to like the pitch, I’ll support even projects that have virtually no chances of success–I fully endorse the “Kickstarter as patronage” point of view.

    When looking at the other AAA releases, I either get annoyed by the confusing pre-order bonus “tiers”, or I’m vary of the game hype, so I tend to wait for reviews.

  13. Geebs says:

    The sadness of pre-ordering can’t possibly compete with the sadness associated with dealing with one of Adobe’s installers :(

    • Stropp says:

      You mean the ones that install those infernal Ask Toolbars? Aargh!

    • dangermouse76 says:

      Hi this is your new laptop….HI ! I’m McAfee you dont know me but I’m gonna be around for a looooooooong time whilst you try to kill me.And you wont forget me because I will remind you every time you boot up ! Annoying isn’t it.

      So why not give up and just purchase me.

      Orbital strike initiated in 3..2..1

  14. teppic says:

    A lot of people want everything you can get in a game, and too many publishers are exploiting that by providing exclusives you can only get by pre-ordering. This is only getting worse — you’re expected to pre-order a game and then pay a fortune for a season pass.

  15. Microrocksima says:

    Why do pre-orders make me sad?

    1. It’s largely irrelevant in the way it was originally introduced, as a point of sales queueing mechanism.
    2. Too many versions of everything just hurt my head. 1 normal version and one special edition from any sales outlet is surely enough.
    3. The vision of sales and marketing teams in publishing houses trying to one-up each other by squeezing every last drop from genuine customers.
    4. The thought that a game can’t sell itself just on it’s own merits without some funky plastered on tat.

    • Josh W says:

      I think there’s still a value in pre-ordering from a cashflow perspective, particularly for small developers, which is why I will be willing to pre-order games if they have a really good demo, or if they are early access and already fun (which is almost exactly the same thing to me).

      I mainly don’t do this with big companies, as they don’t need my help, and I can just wait for the special all dlc edition which will inevitably come out.

      • Microrocksima says:

        The thought of a business model relying heavily on pre-sales/early-access funding kinda makes me wince, but that’s really a different issue in my opinion.

        My main beef is with the devious boardroom marketing execs.

  16. thelastpointer says:

    I have a nice rule for pre-orders which has worked for me so far: NOPE.

    I don’t have any regrets. I don’t really care about statues and posters and t-shirts, and I could always find other ways to support the developers when I wanted to. For some reason dropping a few bucks as donation always seemed “cleaner” than pre-ordering something.

  17. DThor says:

    Preordering games is like going to see a movie on it’s opening weekend without reading potentially spoiler reviews. I can see how some people find it acceptable, but I rarely have that level of trust. Witcher 3 was an exception. Even companies that have good reputations and the absolute best of intentions like Firaxis can release a Beyond Earth.

  18. SuicideKing says:

    A bit rich coming from Adobe and their “your software?! HAH” approach to their CC suite.

    I’ve pre-ordered twice:
    – BF3, turned out to be a mess, didn’t have any servers in the country and EA divided the community on DLC.
    – Total War Rome II. Retailer refused to honour the DLC last minute without prior notification that this was the case.

    Obviously, never again.

  19. mike2R says:

    The only pre-order bonus that’s ever really appealed to me is the Steam pre-load. But since my internet connection sucks, its a reasonable incentive for a big game I’m eager to play.

    • rabbit says:

      fair – particularly given the recent refund system implemented into steam.

  20. Jason Moyer says:

    I pretty much pre-order everything from studios or series that I like, moreso because I like getting the game on day 1 rather than caring about pre-order bonuses or whatever. Anything else I can wait until it’s 75% off or discounted into the $10 range.

  21. Kefren says:

    I have only ever pre-ordered twice, both times were a major headache. [Bioshock and Witcher 3, in case you wonder.]

    • rabbit says:

      how’d you feel on receipt + play of bioshock? don’t get me wrong – i liked it, but given the hype it received as The Next System Shock …

      • Kefren says:

        I hate remembering it! I was so excited as a System Shock fan. Back then all my games were on disc – I hated online activation, DRM, Steam etc (I’m a bit more mellow now). The game came and there were two problems – online activation, which made me really angry and was a real hassle, since I was on dial-up back then, and it hadn’t been mentioned in the pre-order; and the game hardly ran on my PC anyway, just a few frames per second. I tried for a while, and it got to the silly bit where you find a massive hypodermic needle full of scary liquid, and immediately stick it in your arm like a total idiot. I shouted “WTF!”, uninstalled, and sent it back to Amazon and got a refund. It was many, many years before I eventually played Bioshock all the way through.

  22. Mungrul says:

    I no longer pre-order games.
    And since discovering that I can customise what the Steam storefront shows me, I no longer see pre-orders or early access titles on it. This has made it a lot easier to ignore pre-ordering.

    I’ve also made a conscious effort to move away from Steam and start using DRM free suppliers such as GOG more, and this is becoming more and more viable.

    However, I do still Kickstart things (the most recent being Original Sin 2), and I struggle to define how that differs from pre-ordering, but it does feel different. I suppose it’s because there, I’m often supporting a project I have faith in.

    The only outright bad Kickstarter decision I’ve made so far has been Godus, and admittedly, that has made me a lot more careful about what I Kickstart.

    I’m still somewhat dubious about Shroud of the Avatar too, but I admittedly haven’t played that in an incredibly long time. I’m just a bit put off by their post-campaign monetisation schemes that feel similar to those implemented by Star Citizen, which I hold in contempt.

    Could somebody with better words and similar feelings explain the difference between pre-ordering and Kickstarting?

    • klops says:

      Kickstarting Divinity 2 is nothing more than a preorder. But yeah, it does feel a bit different… Better.

      I’ve preordered L4D2 since I knew it was good (from the first one and from the demo) and the price was good. Nowadays I don’t, since buiyng new games is quite useless since there are tonnes of unplayed great games for the price of a beer pint available all the time in sales.

    • kud13 says:

      With Kickstarter, you are putting down money for an idea of a game that appeals to you.

      It’s also often couched in phrases such as “this is a game in genre X, which the big name publishers would never make, because they feel there’s no market for it. By supporting us, you can show them they are wrong” or somesuch.

      Also, when not dealing with a “decently-known studio” (see: Obsidian, InExile, Larian, etc), the project is often “a labour of love” of a few individuals who are partially selling you on how likeable they are (plus the game in a genre you may have an interest in). Which certainly feels different from supporting a publisher-backed developing monster, like the hundreds of Ubisoft subsidiaries worldwide.

      Overall, despite all the debates about it, crowd-funding is, nonetheless, generally perceived as something with a higher risk of failure inherently built-in. Those who got into crowd-funding and didn’t get badly burned generally keep their expectations modestly low. Most times devs with a plan are pretty upfront about it: “we expect we need X months to finish the game. The basic goal will allow us to pay office rent and wages to all the people in the studio for X months while we make the game. For a feature Y we will require to hire extra people in departments A, B, C. The stretch goal Z will allow us to allocate the amount of money (Z-X) to hire A, B, C) and implement feature Y.”
      In the end, when you crowdfund, it’s an inherent risk, and you are essentially giving money to devs you liked to work on an idea you found intriguing. The funding is intrinsic to the idea of the game happening-in a sense that it’s highly unlikely to happen without this support. Whereas when you pre-order from an established, “AAA” dev for a publisher-backed title, you’re fairly certain there’s already a release date and the game WILL happen. There’s no anticipation that your pre-order will have any financial impact on game production.

      To put it bluntly: in crowdfunding the “pre-order” is often a necessity to ensure the game may get made. In AAA, pre-ordering is a luxury.

      • KevinLew says:

        I can understand your feelings, but the idea that “without crowdfunding, many games wouldn’t be made” is no longer true. Ironically enough, the biggest and most successful Kickstarters are the ones that break this rule the most.

        * Developer is already partnered with a publisher to get more funding anyway, or moves to partner with a publisher after Kickstarter completes. Either way, the developer insists the publisher only has limited or no input on the game, which is like suggesting that publishers are somehow angel investors–which they are absolutely not.
        * Developer will take game to Early Access on Steam to get more money, regardless if the Kickstarter was successful or not.
        * Numerous games that failed Kickstarter will simply return to Kickstarter a few months later asking for less money, or the developer will announce that they are making the game regardless that the campaign failed.

        • kud13 says:

          All true, and possibly the reason I spend less on crowd-funding than I did in the past few years (other reason being I have less time in general to browse Kickstarter).
          Nevertheless, I was speaking more of the “attitude” kickstarter attempt to convey, in order to differentiate themselves from “just another pre-order”.

        • Vandelay says:

          Backing something like Divinity is essentially a pre-order. Anything with big names attached is guaranteed to hit the mark, so you are not helping that much to the production of the game, unless you are putting up a lot of money.

  23. Asurmen says:

    Only thing I’ve pre-ordered this year is Legacy of the Void, same reason as others, because I know it’s a game I’m going to want no matter what.

  24. Thankmar says:

    Thanks to my giant backlog I never feel the need to pre-order, I’m not getting to excited anymore. Still trying to finish Witcher I. Saves a lot of money as well. The only exception is pre-ordering a boxed version of WoW Expansions for the convenience of starting on day one. I play them anyway at once, and its mostly a safe bet. Its very silly: opening the box to get the key out, then starting to play with the preloaded content. But I like my collection of Blizzardboxes.

  25. pRiM8 says:

    Yes I pre-order, but like yourself I only pre-order games I know I will buy anyway.

    Games from franchises I have enjoyed before and know I will, most likely, enjoy again I do pre-order but its never an ‘insta-pre-order’. I always do my research first before making any decisions though, try and take in as much info as possible without possibly spoiling any stories, secrets etc. If I like what I see, read and is reasonably priced and think to myself “yeah, I reckon I will enjoy this piece of entertainment” i’ll pre-order.

    Sometimes I have pre-ordered months in advance, sometimes just days before actual release and as I consider my methods quite thorough its not very often I am totally disappointed with pr-ordering a game.

    There are some games that I know I will enjoy despite what kind of reaction it gets from gamers or ratings it receives from critiques. The game would have to have monumental gameplay issues or game breaking bugs for me not to enjoy those games, which is possible of course but nothing I have experienced in those franchises so far.

    Despite my methods, it isn’t an exact science, for example I have already pre-ordered FM16 which I have pre-ordered for as long as I can remember as I know I will enjoy it (unless it is broken or has major gameplay problems) whether it is better or worse than what has been released before. On the other had I still haven’t Pre-ordered No Mans Sky even though from what i have seen and read I will probably enjoy it and im looking forwards to it, its just that there are still quite a few unknowns about the game and with no release date set im unwilling to pre-order for now.

  26. muppetts says:

    I used to Pre-Order, it took Rome Total War II for me to learn the error of my ways. Now I have a totally new set of rules that has worked really well. I can’t get anything that is not at least 6 months old and I have to get at least 30% off the main price. So far I have saved over 300 Euro and I average new games that are 8 months old and have on average 6 good sized patch’s inplemted.

    Much happier at what I receive now.

  27. Dorga says:

    Witcher 3 of course, because I knew I would buy it anyway and also because I got a nice discount for having the previous games. I’m not sure, but the last one before that was probably Max Payne 3, because it also gave me the first two titles in the series, plus L.A. Noire, so, not bad at all.

  28. Tenner says:

    I used to when it was a physical copy and I had friends, but now neither of those things exist there is no need to be certain of having it the same day as my friends, making sure we all buy from the same reliable store etc.

    “I hope it doesn’t suck” is a total valid major concern when pre-ordering. In the last 5~ years the launch day patch has become standard, and indeed if that’s all you have to suffer through you got off lightly. Simcity and Diablo 3 spring to mind as having atrocious launches for us who did preorder. With extra convenience in delivery comes less respect in production.

  29. Assirra says:

    This year i pre-ordered 2 games.
    1 Being the Witcher 3 cause i adore those games/universe and loved it from day 1 without any issues so no regrets.

    The other being tales of zesteria because you get a free copy of tales of symphonia HD with it as well. So you only pay half the price for a game that is not even out yet.

  30. Wulfram says:

    I might pre-order if it offers a genuinely good deal. Usually meaning that it’s actually cheaper.

    And I might “pre-order” just because its already out in the US but not the UK

  31. Xyth says:

    Yeah, no I don’t do pre-orders any more. I have a backlog of perfectly good games I still haven’t played yet from Dishonoured, GTA V, Witcher 3, and so on. I want to play Fallout 4, so if there is any game I would consider pre-ordering, it would be that one. But not this time. I have enough games. I will wait till it goes on sale on Steam.

  32. NightOwl says:

    I pre-ordered Just Cause 3 because a certain webshop gave me almost a 50% discount. Other than that i really only pick up games in sales because backlog. I also pre-odered the Witcher 3 DLC because it’s one of the best games I ever played and I cant wait to spend more time in that world. After playing Hearts of Stone for a dozen hours I don’t regret that decision for a second.

  33. Sorbicol says:

    Pre-ordering for me falls into 2 categories – buying a game
    I know I’ll play and I don’t want to miss the zeitgeist of being the early players – XCOM 2, civilisation games (although I still haven’t bought Beyond Earth yet) Battlefield games (I confess I’ve just pre-ordered Star Wars Battlefront on the basis of the beta) and stuff I’ve kickstarted, which is broadly for the same reasonings. I tend to consider any DLC type offerings as a bonus if there are any.

    I didn’t exactly get stung pre-ordering Dragon Age Inquisition, but after the second patch (about 10 hours into the game for me) I had horrific performance and crashing issues which took me ages to sort out. If I’d waited for the game and rad the threads about it I would still probably be waiting to buy it.

  34. Zekiel says:

    It sounds pretty arrogant (and it probably is) but I don’t really understand why anyone pre-orders. There is literally no reason to believe that the game will be good at the point you’re spending money on it. Even if its a sequel to an amazing game and/or made by a developer/publisher you like – see e.g. Arkham Knight and Assassin’s Creed Unity. Even if its had good previews.

    Added to this that pre-orders are almost the most expensive price you can pay (i.e. usually launch price -10%) – there is no way I’m gambling £40-50 on something that might be awful.

    Compare with waiting 3-9 months and you’ll have the benefit of:
    a) Knowing whether the game is any good, and
    b) Having any bugs (big or small) patched (or if they’re not, they probably won’t ever be, so in that case you’re making a more informed buying decision), and
    c) Buying it at half price or less

    To be fair I can see the attraction if its a multiplayer game where buying it late will lead to a skill gap and/or fewer opponents. But I don’t play multiplayer games so that doesn’t impact me.

    • freedomispopular says:

      GMG almost always offers 25% off preorders for major releases, and sometimes even as much as 35 or 40% off. If it’s something I’m really wanting to play asap and don’t want to wait a few months for the price to drop on, with those discounts there’s no reason NOT to.

      • Zekiel says:

        Ah I didn’t know that. That does make the financial element much more attractive then.

  35. cpt_freakout says:

    I also only pre-order titles I know I’m gonna buy anyway, regardless of reviews. Most recently, I did it with Blood Bowl 2, for example, which many would think of as… dumb, given Cyanide’s record. I’d actually agree, in that it was a dumb decision, but one which I very consciously took as such.

    So I do think it’s stupid to pre-order at this point in gaming’s history, but I also think that people are no longer taking this decision because of stupidity. I mean, the chances of disappointment are very high, in the sense that everyone is disappointed by pre-ordering at some point in life. The “findings” could suggest not so much consuming out of ignorance and then being disappointed for it, but doing so in spite of a sadness already experienced before. This is hard to know, of course, but I’m certain that given we’re not rational machines optimizing every decision for efficiency there’s a possibility of acting ‘against our interests’ and choosing the stupid option, which we already know might end in disappointment.

    Yeah, yeah, I’m stupid, and that’s fine by me.

  36. SuperDion says:

    I preordered a game once. Still haven’t started the game up. It’s been over a year. The money I spent is so daunting I’ve never(spacebar)bought a AAA game at full price ever since. I waste too many money.

  37. Cropduster says:

    I pre-ordered Witcher 3 and GTAV, both the day before launch, pretty much knowing what I was going to get at that point, and it still made me feel sad about my lack restraint.

    • Cropduster says:

      And actually considering I held of getting super involved with Witcher 3 until a few patches came out I feel much worse in hindsight. Not much benefit to early adoption.

      Never bought a season pass though so I’m only 50% damned.

  38. Jay Load says:

    I wouldn’t say I’m sad about pre-orders, I’m angry. They’ve become such a cynical, exploitative practice.

    It bothers me as a consumer when content is produced and locked away only to those who fall for the hype machine – e.g: Activision’s ‘Cybertron’ Transformers games. There’s some argument for it if you release as paid DLC later but not everyone does this.

    I hate the way quality control has declined to the point where at launch many games can’t even charitably be called “beta ” products. Kerberos will likely never make another 4X after the appalling release-state shambles that was Sword of the Stars 2. (I doubt the bruises from the kicking they received have even faded yet) But I can recall many personal examples of similar pre-orders needing months of patches before the game was even playable, not just Day One patching. IT’s why I vowed never to buy another Egosoft product Day One and was beautifully rewarded for this caution when X: Rebirth launched not only buggy as fuck but such a neutered experience as well.

    Also, none of the trinkets they offer ever entice. Art books, Soundtracks, statues…I’m buying a game? Just give me the game, please, without charging me twice the price for the God Emperor Ultra-Mega Deluxe Edition. Highly subjective, but there you go.

  39. stoner says:

    I pre-ordered, AKA early access, Kerbal Space Program, Prison Architect, Space Engineers, and Medieval Engineers. Glad I did. I’ve seen the games grow. More importantly, the mechanics have not been an all-at-once learning curve.

    Just after the release of PA, I saw a comment from another player who had followed/played the game for about two years. He expressed the same sentiment.

    Downside: You get burned-out, having played through multiple times. To quote the legendary B. B. King: The Thrill Is Gone.

  40. Thulsa Hex says:

    I used to pre-order sometimes during the GameCube era as availability wasn’t always guaranteed – at least in Cork, Ireland. When consoles started going mainstream, this stopped being a problem, so I stopped putting money down in advance. I don’t think I pre-ordered a single Xbox 360 game despite buying many. My last big physical pre-order was for the Wii launch. I just happened to pop into the toy shop on the way to work a few months before and put my name down. Little did I know that come December it was going to be the most desirable gift for Christmas. I had to laugh when during the launch day chaos I found out mine was order #001. They even took a photo of me for the paper :\

    I have NEVER bought into the stupid pre-order incentive crap publishers have been peddling since the advent of console DLC. It does make me sad. It makes me sad that there are enough gullible people out there who continue to fund this model. I used to be more cynical about buying digital than I am now but game stores have become so unpleasant in the last 10 years that I almost feel grateful to skip that step. I know there are exceptions but most seem to want to fleece you. I wish they were more like local book stores.

    Since PC gaming in particular has embraced digital, pre-ordering has become a somewhat different animal. Now there’s hardly any point unless you get a decent early adopter discount or some other deal. My first pre-orders since the Wii console were the Witcher 3 (it was going for ~$45 and went up to $60 on launch) and MGSV (I was pretty much guaranteed to get it day one and that extra copy of Ground Zeroes made for a nice gift to a friend). So yeah, give me least 20% off and there’s a chance I’ll put down early, but feck off with your alternative character skins, or unique weapon unlocks, or whatever else.

  41. BathroomCitizen says:

    I never preorder.

    But, if we count Kickstarter and Early Access, yeah I do that. That’s because Kickstarter represents an idea of game that could be made, and if I like that I idea I support it with my money.

    Early Access: to me it’s a bit rarer to support early access titles – I fear that I’ll soon become bored of that alpha version, and when it reaches completion I won’t have the will to retry it.

    • Thulsa Hex says:

      I’ve indulged in (and enjoyed) the odd Kickstarter, for sure. It feels good when something nice happens as a result. But I’m not into early access, even if it happens as a result of a Kickstarter. I like playing my games when they’re feature-complete. I also like that launch day buzz, even if it’s something I’ve not picked-up. Games being “launched” after early access seem to have a hard time generating new excitement.

    • Zekiel says:

      Although I’ve only done it once (Torment) I think backing Kickstarters is very healthy – provided the reasoning is “I want this game to be made and am happy to support people to try to do that” – with the knowledge that that game might turn out to be disappointing (or not to be made at all).

  42. Auldman says:

    I’ve been burned by pre-orders. I won’t do it now unless it’s part of a series I already have a bunch of the games for and therefore a certain relationship exists between me and developer where I trust that company. I know I’ll pre-order the next Mass Effect and the next Dragon Age cause I am invested in those series to that extent and I know CDPR have my goodwill based on the way they have handled their customers which, from my pov, is pretty damn solid. But I won’t for other games. I’ll wait for the reviews and let’s play’s.

  43. Premium User Badge

    Qazinsky says:

    I do pre-order games I know I’m going to buy anyway. Unlike most people, I don’t really have a backlog as much as a few games I feel indifferent about that I bought on sales. Preordering usually lets me preload the game so that I can play it ASAP. I value not having to wait another few months way more than the money.

    I do dislike most of the stupid extras you get, I don’t want to start with a weapon that renders the loot mechanic useless or some instanced little extra area that usually feels out of place, thank you. I like getting another game tossed in as a bonus though.

    Sometimes the games are bad, it’s unusual but it happens, the thing is, there is never a guarantee that the game is good, no matter if it gets straight 100% scores and glowing WITs that checks all points on your list, you might still not like it personally when you finally play it. Or your computer might not be able to play it, even though it should and everyone else is playing happily.

  44. fish99 says:

    There’s definitely a price benefit to pre-ordering. This doesn’t apply to the people who blindly buy everything through Steam, but if you shop around there’s a price curve games go through. The best price will be a month (or more) before release, then it’ll start to go back up, hit a peak at release then slowly start to go back down.

    Buy a game on release day and you definitely pay a premium.

    Also when I can preorder Arkham Knight for under £15, or Mad Max for £12 those are such good prices that the chance of it being poor at release barely matter. And some games you know won’t be bad, like Fallout 4, which I have pre-ordered.

  45. NarcoSleepy says:

    I’ve stopped pre-ordering after being burned so bad in the past year or so. The only exception for this will be Fallout, which I will probably pre-order as soon as reviews come out.

  46. Phantom_Renegade says:

    I pre-order when I’m reasonably certain I wouldn’t get the CE otherwise due to it being limited. And sometimes, even when I pre-order a year in advance, I still get screwed, see Witcher 3 where Bandai turned out to be asshole idiots.

    Only for CE’s with physical goodies from a game I know I’ll want. The rest will almost always become paid dlc later down the line. Just snatch that stuff up during a steam sale.

  47. Nereus says:

    I preordered the Witcher 3 because they gave me a discount on it for owning the first two. That and I felt the quality was probably going to be of a similar level even if the hype train leading up to its release was really putting me off.

    Prior to that I think the last game I preordered was World of Warcraft’s Wrath of the Lich King in a boxed copy.

  48. Neurothustra says:

    Blade Runner reference noted. Well done.

  49. suibhne says:

    I’ve backed plenty of Kickstarters, which are basically glorified pre-orders with a side of project risk. Then again, the discounts can be substantial – much more than Steam’s typical 10% pre-order discount.

    Otherwise, I only pre-order games that I’m certain I’ll want to play immediately. That rarely occurs. I grabbed GMG’s 23% (or whatever) discount on Fallout 4, and I didn’t hesitate to pre-order The Witcher 3 through GOG.com (partly from loyalty, partly for the discount for TW1/2 owners).

    My new rule – which defeats most pre-orders and many later purchases, too – is to buy something only when I’m about 95% certain I’ll play it in the next few weeks. What with all the peskiness of adult existence, that’s a pretty high bar.

    • suibhne says:

      Incidentally, one of my biggest irritations as a business-type guy is the practice, from pretty much everyone, of billing you for digital pre-purchases even months before the game is out. I forgave GOG.com, because part of my rationale was to support CDP, but it’s a basic problem with digital pre-orders that you fork over the cash long before you get anything. A physical pre-order on, say, Amazon doesn’t get billed till it ships, but a digital pre-order gets billed as soon as you click the button. Which means it’s hugely more valuable for publishers and actually more expensive for buyers, due to time discounting.

      • neotribe says:

        Or, in simpler terms, its an interest free loan from the time of preorder to release.

  50. Dominare says:

    I haven’t preordered anything since Colonial Marines. It’s going to take me a long time to get over that one.