RPS Asks: Have You Ever Regretted A Pre-Order?

REGRETS

Question: Have you ever regretted a pre-order?

I was thinking about this because of the Bethesda review policy announcement chat. As you can imagine it circles back round to ongoing conversations about pre-ordering and reviews. Generally my advice on the matter is “don’t do it” but that’s actually a truncated version of a more complicated sentiment: “Don’t do it unless you feel informed enough to make a judgement about the game’s worth to you given whatever factors you want to take into consideration personally, or if you think there’s a robust enough refund policy, or if the actual quality of the game maybe just isn’t a huge part of why you want it.”

It doesn’t really trip off the tongue, that.

I don’t tend to feel the need to pre-order games. I never have felt the need, so I don’t really have a wealth of stories to choose from for my own pre-ordering regrets or successes. At least part of that is because, until recently, I didn’t have a group of friends with which to discuss them so it didn’t matter whether I was up to date with anything. I wasn’t going to get a game spoiled and there was no mileage in being able to say whether something was good or bad in that first week. It really takes the pressure off in that respect.

I got into Destiny post-release but have since pre-ordered all the expansions and things. That’s more because I’m comfy with the developers of that game in the sense that I trust what they’ve done so far and am happy to keep investing. I don’t exactly feel the need to pre-order, but given I assume I’ll be picking it up anyway I don’t mind just laying the cash down when I remember, which tends to be when friends are chatting about it on voice comms before it comes out. I don’t know what the relationship would be like if a paid expansion bombed. I guess it would depend on what the problem was, how they addressed it and a few other elements as to whether it eroded the goodwill that’s built up for me there.

The only other time I can remember pre-ordering was for Skyrim, which I picked up on Xbox 360. I actually went so far as to book the whole day off and had to explain to my editor at the fashion publication why I wanted this one day in November at home. We had a slightly confused conversation about dragons and swords and Ayleid ruins as I explained my attachment to Oblivion and that I was excited to do the next thing, given I’d long since mined out the previous game’s world in terms of activities.

I wouldn’t say I regretted it, exactly, but it was definitely a case of not quite gelling with the game for a fair while. Looking back, what I’d wanted was more Oblivion. I’d have been far happier with just a big chunk of DLC or something to do with the characters I’d grown attached to. Skyrim is the game people tend to prefer of the two, but for me it was a bit of a damp squib because of how my own relationship with the game interacted with the marketing hype. I think I ended up spending part of my day off on Skyrim and part of it baking or doing some chores or whatever as my interest waxed and waned.

I’d think a lot of people have had moments like that which teach them something about how hype works and whether or not they want to learn to resist it.

Adam: They have and I’m one of them. Hello!

I very rarely preorder games, partly because I’m so busy these days writing about the blasted things that I rarely find time to pick anything up that isn’t work-related, and partly because when I do find that time it’s often a few months after a game has been released. There are exceptions though and they’re predictable ones: annually released sports games. I only preorder rarely, but I always end up buying them regardless of reviews.

It’s a weakness of mine, the desire to buy a new Madden, MLB: The Show, Football Manager, WWE and FIFA (PES this year actually) every year, but these are games that always make me happy for at least a while. Because I know that I’m going to buy them, I often (though not always) preorder if I see a good deal. Even when any apparent improvements are slight, there’s a satisfaction in having the shiny new version of a thing that serves as a comfort blanket rather than a shot of adrenaline or imagination. And, yes, over the years I’ve bought some duds, particularly when it comes to the wrasslin’ games.

I’ve never regretted buying them though – the money has already been put aside because I know the release schedule and I know, broadly speaking, what to expect. “This is a bit shit,” I might say to myself a few days later, but that’s about it. I’ll still play with friends from time to time, and poke at singleplayer modes even if they’re undercooked. Part of that is because I find games interesting in and of themselves, so picking at the slightest of changes and trying to figure out what it does and why it has happened is a form of entertainment in itself.

This year was slightly different though. I had a week’s holiday right around the time when No Man’s Sky came out, and I ended up with an unexpected couple of free days during that break. One was the release day for No Man’s Sky on PS4. I bought it through the PlayStation Store so that I could play at midnight, and play at midnight I did. All told, I probably got forty hours out of the game: the first ten I loved, the next twenty I endured, the final ten I felt sad during because I was remembering how good the first ten had been. I was always going to play it, for professional reasons if nothing else, but I wouldn’t have been quite as keen to buy it that night if I’d already read reviews from people I trusted. It’s not the money that I regret – my choice, my loss – but a good review would have told me that there was nothing beyond those first hours that was likely to appeal. Going in with expectations calibrated would have been useful, and maybe I would have waited until later.

One takeaway from this is that I’m happier to preorder the expected, even when I expect mediocrity, than I am to take a chance on the experimental. That’s a bit rubbish, isn’t it? The opposite is true when it comes to regular post-release purchases though. I read as much as I can about all of the weird and wonderful games that I can find, and I end up buying far more than I’ll ever find the time to play. Essentially, pre-orders are reserved for games that I know I’ll buy no matter what, or impulsive late night digital purchases when I’ve got too much free time on my hands.

In a lot of ways I wish I’d held off on No Man’s Sky, but even at the silly price I paid, it was almost a pound per hour spent, and that doesn’t seem too bad, even if I spent some of those hours becoming increasingly disenchanted. It’s those hours spent, rather than the money, that I regret. If I’d known I wasn’t moving or building toward anything, I’d probably have given up much sooner. A good review wouldn’t have told me that the game was bad or good, but it might well have let me know that whatever it was, it wasn’t going to appeal to me for long.

Oh, and I bought Thi4f ahead of release because I really really wanted more Thief. That one I do regret.

So yes, have you ever regretted a pre-order?

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193 Comments

  1. CartonofMilk says:

    I have been buying games since i wanna say 1988 (ok well my parents still bought most of them then but i bought some too with my pocket money or the grandparents xmas money). I have never pre-ordered a game in my life.

    *smug self-satisfied look*

    • SBLux says:

      Me too. But then again I am mostly skint.

      • Ghostwise says:

        I buy pretty much everything as a GOTY package on 75% discount 5+ years later. Fully patched, with a mature modding scene, and the possibility of cranking all settings to 11 because there have been 3 generations of GPUs since.

        With the saving thus accrued I have bought five villas, a three stories garage filled with classic collector’s cars, an Olympic-class pool and a prototype hoverboard. I was also considering retaining several top models as cocottes, but for some reason none of them is interested. This is very puzzling.

    • Jerek Adams says:

      LOL’s to pre-ordering.

      I find it humorous when there are those who have wasted their money on a pre-order always showing off this or that little real life or digital trinket in some desperate attempt to justify their decision. OOOOHHHHH look at this map! Look at my special forum icon. I got this special music!

      At least that’s how it reads between the lines.

      The part of the article I found more concerning was the bit about paying certain “influencers” to review your game just so. This is far more insidious than withholding review copies. This in my opinion borders on the line of false advertising.

      In this article it speaks specifically of “influencers” who review a game favorably (for a ‘reward’). Remember though that the market is an extremely competitive place. Thus it can very reasonably be assumed that as much as one may “encourage” an “influencer” to review a game a certain way in a positive light one could easily manage to do so for a competitors product in a negative light.

      I do however see this as a mechanism to ensure the pre-order dollars stay exactly where the producing company wants them, in their pocket. It’s a potential opening for an exploitative model. (Yeah really tell us something we don’t know about the real world right?)

      That’s why I prefer user reviews now in most cases and actually find myself using RPS as a baseline starting point for my research.

      Also I always get at least 25% off the game before buying, these games are getting rather rich.

    • ooshp says:

      I love pre-orders. It’s the only way I can send gifts to future-me. Mostly I just give that guy giant hangovers, angry house calls from drug dealers and questionable sleeping arrangements.

      But every now and then when I’m super drunk and know future-me isn’t going to remember anything I do, I like pre-ordering a game I know he’s gonna like, and golly…. you should see his face when he gets that Steam key in his email. Like a melted Christmas tree, it’s hideous and smelly but if you squint you can almost imagine it was once a beautiful thing.

  2. Graeme says:

    Godus was the game to turn me off pre-ordering and Kickstarter in general.

    • JarinArenos says:

      It was Starforge that broke me. Never pre-ordering again, and never kickstarting unless I really know and trust the developers (or just like them enough to consider it a gift)

    • Ahkey says:

      So much this.

      I mean, it should’ve been so obvious from the fact that 22can’s only game to date was a seemingly never-ending tap-to-win cube – the rough equivalent to Mass Effect 2’s Mining Simulator 2185 – but I loved Populous 3 and Dungeon Keeper II (as it turned out, the two Bullfrog games Peter had little-to-no involvement in) and Black & White and Fable had some great ideas in them.

      I didn’t mind the game so much initially, the mechanics were fairly simplistic but seemed sound enough. But as it moved through versions, to Beta, to whatever state it’s been left in now, it became obvious that it would never become anything greater than a few neat ideas, poorly executed. I still Kickstart games from time to time (Pillars of Eternity was well done and Torment is shaping up to be great), but Godus was the point at which I became far more circumspect about the whole funding process.

    • exile2k4 says:

      Dragon Age II was the first game I pre-ordered, and also the first (and only) pre-order I’ve cancelled, after seeing more previews of the game in action. It put me off for a while, but over the past year or so probably over half the money I’ve spent on games has been on pre-orders, and I haven’t regretted any.

      I tend to pre-order from developers whose past games I’ve loved, and wait on other games until they’re in a sale. Even with ones I’ve been mildly disappointed by (I thought Ashes of Ariandel was the weakest Dark Souls DLC of the series), I can’t say I regret pre-ordering. It’s a series I’ve loved so much and had so much enjoyment out of, I was always going to buy it regardless of what other people thought of it.

      I don’t mean to sound smug, but for me No Man’s Sky is a classic example of a game that I thought looked really interesting in previews, but would never have pre-ordered. It seemed like far too vague a premise, from a developer I had no previous experience of.

    • Oozo says:

      I wish people would stop conflating Kickstarter and pre-ordering. It might look like it’s functionally the same thing from a customer’s point of view, but even here, it’s easy to disagree. (A well-made Kickstarter is, at the very least, always a way of having an insiderish look at the development, something that pre-orders in most cases won’t offer you.) From the perspective of the developer, though, it is, at least ideally, totally different: Kickstarted games usually wouldn’t get made without the Kickstarter. You are not pre-ordering, you are helping to fund somebody’s aspiration of making something; or at least that’s the idea. Going in with that expectations, you might deal with it differently.

      I have backed multiple Kickstarters that were abandoned, or that do look like they are stearing into that direction. Of all of those, I regret having backed only one, Clang, because that really was a clusterfuck, not least when it comes to communication. The others, though? Those were made by people, who often just had bad luck. You know, shit happens. In one case, for example, a health problem got in the way — if that would have been a pre-order for a AAA game, I would have been cross. It was a Kickstarter, though, and I was ok with it — simply because I liked the guy’s initial vision, I liked the way he kept me up to date on it, and I was happy to have contributed to him being able to work at least for some time on a project he was passionate about.

      (That said, I do know that YMMV and that things are not always that clear-cut — big developers turning to Kickstarter blurred the lines even further. Still, I think that thinking of Kickstarter as a pre-ordering channel will necessarily lead to frustration more often than it should.)

  3. Gandor says:

    Never preordered, until last week and Civilization 6. Had really good early reviews, and I’ve played them all since second one, so I thought, what the hell.

    Never again.

    Some 15 hours in, and I regret it. It lacks charm, it’s unpolished, and I feel like an idiot for buying it, preorder or no. Should have waited for GOTY or someething.

    Oh well, fool me once…

    • zarthrag says:

      I’ve played them all since the *original* Amiga version. (Yeah, IBM was technically first. But… link to youtube.com) I was all of 10, *begged* my dad. So many turns…

      As of late Civ games tend to get *major* tune-ups in the expansion. Civ 4/5 weren’t worth it on release, compared to with expansions (I skipped Beyond Earth – my memories of Alpha Centauri need to remain pristine). Next xmas, there will be a GOTY, and it will be great.

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      I didn’t pre-order Civ6, but I did buy it very soon after launch.

      I also regret it.

      I had a lot of fun with Civ5 (which I didn’t buy until after Gods & Kings), and really I should have waited for the major expansions before buying six. I feel very much like Pip from the discussion the other day, frustrated at the UI and systems that don’t really work for me.

  4. PopeRatzo says:

    I regret every pre-order I’ve ever made, because pre-orders have contributed to new AAA PC games being crappy for the most part. There used to be dozens of really good titles released every year. Now, we’re lucky to get 2 or 3.

    It’s not entirely the fault of pre-orders, of course. Consoles have contributed to there being more crappy PC games, but pre-ordering stuff you know isn’t going to work on day 1 does not encourage the game industry to do better.

    • Jerek Adams says:

      +1.

      We need an up/down vote button.

    • cakeisalie says:

      Yeah, this is the thing that a lot of people don’t seem to get. Pre-ordering is bad for the consumer in the long-term, lowering standards both in terms of the quality of gameplay, etc and the quality of day one builds. Not only does it take the pressure off developers to produce the goods, but it means that they’re locked into releasing on a specified day rather than delaying launch in order to fix all the issues.

      • ooshp says:

        Prove it.

        Seriously, prove it. Can you? Oh look, here comes more anecdotal evidence about your confirmation bias.

        Seriously, half the fun of pre-ordering is upsetting the vocal minority who actually think it’s bringing forward the end of days.

        • Regicider 12.4% says:

          I like to pretend my non-preordering is lighting a small, tiny, microscopic ember under their asses to make them sweat and make better games instead of investing all their time awake on day-1 get-rich-quick schemes.
          Also I’m poor as balls.

      • FreshHands says:

        Well!

        No one can say that AssCreedBlaFlag is a poor game – it’s my childhood-dreams come true! Only I find it very lacking now that I am presumably wiser. But…

        The magic is not in the game. It’s in you (or not).

  5. reech says:

    Mass Effect 3 Collectors Edition, massive regret. Not because I ordered it and it was crap, but because I pre-ordered it and the chain I ordered it from (GAME) was going through financial difficulties and didn’t pay its suppliers. Grrr.

    Haven’t preordered anything from them since. And like the bitter old man I am, remind them everytime they ask ‘do you have anything you want to pre-order?’ of what happened last time.

    The long-standing staff who are pre-programmed to ask this during their indoctrination training experience a weird moment of cognitive dissonance as the programming makes them say it even though they know what’s coming next. The look of barely disguised horror in their eyes as they realise that they cannot stop themselves, while all the time knowing that they are going to be subject to my ranty response kindles a fierce, dark pleasure in my soul because I am a bad person.

    See kids – preorders ruin lives.

    • Hammer says:

      I’d forgotten about that utter farce. It was about the time I stopped pre-ordering regularly as well, for the exact same reason.

      Incredibly, they repeated that affair with Fallout 4.

  6. FeedFilter says:

    Yeah, Star Citizen. They built the most toxic official game forums I’ve ever seen (worse than MWO even), missed milestone after milestone while still adding extra garbage, and just announced yet another delay with little new stuff to show for it.

    Got my refund tho so if it ever actually happens I can give it a shot at the time.

    • Elric666 says:

      Just wanted to say I’ve never preordered a game, until I read your post and remembered that I’m also a Star Citizen backer.

      Is backing a game on Kickstarter the same as preordering a game?

      Anyway, I haven’t regretted it… yet.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      How and when did you get your refund, may I ask? My request was refused.

  7. Dan Lawrence says:

    I definitely identify with Adam’s experience with No Man’s Sky. I pre-ordered on impulse and with a vague feeling of wanting to support an indie studio trying something bold and exciting.

    I really wanted to love it, but in the end there was no depth to the systems and I kept playing it long after boredom had set in to try and extract more value from the money I had spent.

    • pookielomez says:

      Registered to say “No Man’s Sky”. For me, it was the pre-order to end all pre-orders. I hope I have enough control to make that statement true.

      • DuncUK says:

        Oh god, this. No Man’s Sky was a lesson to me in hype vs reality and I bought the hype hook line and sinker. The state the game initially launched in had me staring in disbelief at the dithered resolution and stuttering performance and yet for some reason I persisted, presuming behind it all that there was a decent game worth persevering for. By the time I realised there was not, I was way beyond the 2 hour refund time. What an absolute stinker. Lesson well and truly learned!

    • TheMightyEthan says:

      No Man’s Sky is actually the only game preorder I’ve ever regretted. It’s especially weird because I didn’t preorder until after the console version (and attendant reviews) were out, so I went in confident I knew what I was getting.

      I ended up playing 22 hours, and while I enjoyed it initially it just turned into a slog as it went on. I have no desire to return to it, and I do not feel I got my money’s worth out of it. Had I paid $15 I’d be happy, but alas I did not.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        Exactly my situation, to the letter.

        However I will say that ‘regret’ is a strong word. I mean, I’ve lost no sleep over it, it doesn’t weight down my shoulders. I just wish it cost a bit less.

        Digital preorders are pointless though, and I’m not quite sure why I bothered. Back in the day it was the only way for me to play on day one.

        Other than that I’ve had great experience with pre-orders and early access. Even the games that haven’t quite turned out how I’d hoped are nowhere near a ‘regret’.

  8. piercehead says:

    I’ve pre-ordered more than 1 co-op/MP game with the knowledge other friends had bought it too. If friends stop playing it soon, that’s when regret sets in. Hi there, Titanfall.

  9. peda says:

    PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale

  10. geldonyetich says:

    The last game I preordered, I was certain from my 30-something years if gaming experience that it would, if not a worthwhile game, surely be an engine worthy of full AAA cost.

    That game was No Man’s Sky.

  11. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    An occassional pre-orderer here. I’m fairly strict about what I pre-order, it’s only those games I can guarantee I’ll like, usually from rave previews and/or games from a series or developer I’ve already loved. Very few I’d say can guarantee quality, but Firaxis, Klei, From Software come to mind.

    Couple of dodgy ones were pre-ordering Elite: Dangerous and No Man’s Sky, but I wouldn’t say I regret either. I knew what I was letting myself in for and loved both for a period of time. It helped NMS was on PS4 so I could sell the game on second hand when I got bored a few weeks later.

    Biggest regret is definitely Battlefield 4. DICE used to be in the happy to pre-order pile but, yeah, that was a buggy mess that wasn’t really playable for months after release. A great game once it got there, but really no need to pay full whack for day one.

    I think most games now, unless you could get a good bargain, I just wouldn’t bother pre-ordering. There’s too many examples of janky release day builds to make it worthwhile, even from the big corporate behemoths you’d expect to at least have product quality down.

    That’s the biggest issue though, not the lack of a review. The way previews and let’s plays and all that stuff have taken over games journalism I would say you can predict 9 out of 10 review scores before a site reviews them. Doesn’t make them worthless, but they’re not the thing I wait for when choosing to buy something nowadays.

    • Archonsod says:

      I think we’re the problem :)

      It’s interesting you point out the issues with reviews. One thing I suspect is that for those games I do pre-order, say the next XCom or whatever, I’ll be doing so even if the entire games media came around to my house and spent a week waving ‘don’t do it’ placards. It’s not the reviews and previews that are the problem, more that it’s a series I’ve found consistently enjoyable for so long that I’m always going to want to see for myself.
      I tend to find reviews more useful for the games I don’t pre-order – when something interesting pops up on the Steam storefront or similar I might go read a couple of reviews to get a feel for it, but these aren’t generally games I was ever going to pre-order to begin with.

      There’s not been many pre-orders I’ve regretted, and to be honest if I have it’s rarely the game. TW Medieval 2 is the last one I remember – pre-ordered the digital version, found the collector’s edition box set in the local HMV for about ten quid cheaper a week or two after it released (was on sale for some reason).

      • Jerek Adams says:

        The problem that is manifesting more and more with the above mentioned nomenclature is this kind of system opens up a gateway to exploit the pre-order system.

        Namely a developer can get away with a lot more for releasing poor and/or incomplete content. They don’t have to worry about the review community calling them out on their crap.

        I could see how as a producer/publisher this would be most desirable.

        In the end there is not much to be done as a developer is not required to release a review copy to anybody.

    • DThor says:

      Witcher 3 is about the only preorder I’ve not regretted. I just plain trust those guys. I never did tons of preorders in the past but like you BF4 was a huge letdown for me – I played III to death and couldn’t imagine how Dice could go wrong, but I literally could not connect with BF4 – it’s a game written for somebody else. I’ve never done it since. Of course there’s the odd early access I’ve gotten into, like Universe 2, Divinity, and been very happy, but I don’t equate EA with preorder. Never again!

  12. sicanshu says:

    No. But then, the only game I’ve ever pre-ordered was Final Fantasy 3 for Super Nintendo way back in ’94.

  13. Derpkovsky says:

    With the amount of games in my library I still need to play, I have never felt the need to play a game early, and have therefore never pre-ordered.

  14. wisnoskij says:

    Better question, has there ever been a preorder that you were very happy about?

    More often than not you can buy the game cheaper at launch than with a pre-order. And I have never heard of a pre-order bonus that was worth getting. At best you get exactly the same thing as if you waited for the launch.

    • dare says:

      I think I’ve only ever pre-ordered Dishonored. I was very happy with it. (Also, some Kickstarter backings, but I’ve been happy with them as well.)

  15. Halk says:

    Darksiders 2.
    It was just climbing around, always collecting 3 of something and puzzles took minutes to complete, even if you already solved them in your mind.

  16. yusefsmith says:

    You say you were “happy to keep investing” in Destiny.

    We keep seeing that word for the pre-orders and the crowdfunding.

    But if you were to buy the DLC one week after release, you wouldn’t say you ‘invested’.

    When I order a pizza and it takes an hour to arrive, I didn’t ‘invest’ in a pizza.

    But we feel good about investing. So paying for things before we get them, if the period is long enough, gets falsely labeled as investing.

    Investing requires the potential for a return. Giving something up now, for something more later.

    Even if you ‘save’ $5 or 10 dollarpounds by ordering early, you’re still just exchanging money for a product.

    We call that ‘purchasing’ and it doesn’t have quite the same moral aura as ‘investing’.

    • TheAntsAreBack says:

      Exactly this.

    • Philippa Warr says:

      Investments don’t have to be purely financial. They can involve time or money or emotion any other resource/combination of resources. When I say investing, I’m using the word because I’m happy to keep investing my time and money in Destiny. I spend money on that game in order to access the ongoing changes and additions. If I were to buy the DLC later it would still be an investment of my time and money.

      I’m spending those resources in the expectation of achieving something with that. This is different from becoming an investor in the strictly financial sense where you’re backing something with money and expecting to see a return on that in terms of more money. They’re related because it’s the same concept but the word investment covers a broad range of things.

      • yusefsmith says:

        “When I say investing, I’m using the word because I’m happy to keep investing my time and money in Destiny.”

        Right. That’s what I’m saying. We use the term investing instead of purchasing here due to the emotional component. Nothing wrong with that.

        • Jerek Adams says:

          Don’t forget the currency of blood!

          I distinctly remember having to pay with blood while playing Mario Kart 64 with my friends!

          So many bruises!

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Well, that would be true, but she didn’t say investing money. But hey, pedantry right?

      What Pip means is investing the time to keep playing the game, and being comfortable pre-ordering expansions because she knows that she’ll feel okay about continuing to play. As I’m sure you’re aware, continuing to spend time on something is an investment in the hopes that time will pay off in some fashion, be it a paycheck, a feeling of fun, a sense of accomplishment or escaping a burden.

      All of this is something that both Pip and Adam acknowledge, and apparently you missed entirely – they don’t regret purchasing as per the definition so much as investing the time they spent hoping that a game would meet their expectations.

      Gotta love our language right? The vernacular for using time is parallel to that of using money.

      • yusefsmith says:

        Sorry, not pedantic, because I’m not talking about purely in the sense of a return on a price paid.

        I’m talking about the positive emotional associations with the word ‘investing’ which have led that term to be applied to what would be, in another context, a ‘purchase’.

        The term is not wrong, in itself – it has been adopted by the games industry and its boosters to encourage people to make purchases.

        Let’s talk later. I invested $100 dollarpounds in my local Chinese eatery to occasionally send me delicious meals, and one has just arrived.

        • Philippa Warr says:

          That’s still not quite the meaning I had. There is a broader investment in the game that acts as an umbrella under which specific purchases sit. I think that’s where the confusion is creeping in. When I say I invest in Destiny it means every resource I spend in relation to that game. What I’m getting at is that I’m not referring to those specific DLC purchases as investments, I’m referring to the broader spend of emotion/time/money/anything else which takes place across the whole of my interaction with the game.

          That’s why I think there’s resistance to some of your points. I’m not seeking to romanticise the act of purchasing – I haven’t felt particular excitement over those early purchases – I reserve that for when I find a bit in the game which surprises me or impresses me. I’m explaining that my broader investment in that game means I’m fine with buying these things to have at my disposal without waiting for review.

          • Jac says:

            I don’t think what you were saying was unclear.

            Got any other good stock tips?

  17. oggnogg says:

    Battlefield 4. I loved and hated that buggy piece of shit software for the first half year. Then it stopped crashing, and after a year most bugs that annoyed me were gone. Great success.
    I don’t count crowd-funding as pre-order. Pre-order: I pay for the contract of getting a working game at a known date in the future. Crowd-funding: I pay someone so they can try to build a game, which may or may not work out.

  18. Hammer says:

    The biggest pre-order regret I’ve had was the Wii. I utterly bought into the hype, bought one on day one with a couple of games and only ended up playing it when we had people round to the house. I ended up trading it in a couple of years later.

    Other regrets included Civ V, which has never gelled with me; No Man’s Sky which was a complete mistake after a friend and I got too excited about it when drunk; and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, which I can’t even vaguely justify.

    On the other hand, I have some that’d I’d happily pay full price for an pre-order again: BioShock, Civ 3, Fallout 3, Forza 4, Forza Horizon 3 and XCOM 2 off the top of my head. I’ve had more than my money’s worth out of all of those games and then some.

    • Hammer says:

      The sidebar has reminded me that I preordered Spore as well.

      Thank god I don’t work in a position of responsibility, because I clearly lack some sense of judgement.

  19. Winged Nazgul says:

    Brink and Batman: Arkham Knight. That’s about it I think. I’ve resolved to never pre-order again but I also promised that the last time I pre-ordered as well.

    But this Bethesda malarkey might be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back for me. Here’s hoping anyways.

  20. Axelius says:

    As a huge Paradox Development Studio fan (and more recently employee) their two most recent titles, Stellaris and Hearts of Iron IV, were my most recent pre-orders. Both games got shaky reviews at launch and I’m really not gonna disagree with that general tone, but I enjoyed them still for what they were and got 100 hundred or so hours into each in the first week of purchase. I felt absolutely no “need” to pre-order, but having watched the development of both titles for a couple of months I felt like I knew what to expect in both cases and I knew I would get them sooner or later, and preferably sooner.

    I’m still waiting for Star Citizen, and so far I feel it is too early for me to feel regret for it. Not that it means that I support or even feel comfortable with all the things the devs are doing with the continued marketing, but I’ll wait until it is “done” or cancelled to decide to feel regret or not.

    • Fnord73 says:

      I admire your Ninja-skills, sir. I have played a lot of grand strategy, including Paradox-titles and Hearts of Iron 4 was just beyond me. (Stellaris, on the other hand, was just meh. Galactic Civ without any diplomacy.)

    • wackazoa says:

      I like Paradox too. However I take a totally different approach. I wait for 3 or 4 DLC”expansions” to be released before I purchase any of their games anymore. I bought EU4 and the first expansion day one, and ever after will only purchase games/DLC from them in bunches when they have a sale. Like their stuff, they just make so damn much of it that it wears on me. So will try Stellaris and HOI4 sometime next summer, and will buy the last 4 or 5 CK2 and EU4 expansion DLCs at this years christmas sale.

  21. Kefren says:

    Only pre-ordered twice. Regretted it both times.

    1. Bioshock. Years ago. I’d loved System Shock 2. Wanted to support them. Then it arrived (CD from Amazon) and required online activation, licences and so on. I’ve always hated DRM and felt somehow betrayed. I sent it back.

    2. Witcher 3. I didn’t really enjoy Witcher 1 and 2 (I don’t really like 3rd person games), but wanted to support devs releasing DRM-free games. Then it launched and the final specs weren’t what I’d expected, and it wouldn’t run on my PC – as in, the software did a check and refused to install, even at low-res. It seemed strange, I’d been buying and playing games with no problem for years. GOG refused to refund me because the game wasn’t technically broken. In the end after lots of research I bought a new graphics card. Lots of expense and hassle, and a game I wasn’t enamoured by. I decided that was it, I wouldn’t pre-order again. I only did it to support devs. I can do that by purchasing after release, when the specs are known, the DRM system known, the patches applied, and all the DLC and crud included in some sort of bundled edition at half the price.

  22. brulleks says:

    I don’t remember pre-ordering a game, but I do remember splashing out on a DVD player so I could buy and install Deus Ex:Invisible War on release (previously, games had always come out on CD).

    Enough said.

    • Guzzleguts says:

      I pre-ordered that one from the states, the one with ‘the new war on terror’ on the box. Paid additional import charges and everything. I had been dreaming about how amazing it was going to be for months beforehand.

  23. Distec says:

    I’ve preordered a grand total of 2 games: Doom 2016 and No Man’s Sky. For the former, I was getting very good vibes from the single-player gameplay being shown and I needed that Revenant figurine. For the latter, it was getting an acute case of last-minute hype and seeing some nifty stuff in my brother’s PS4 copy.

    I couldn’t have been more pleased with Doom, so I think that one worked out. But with No Man’s Sky… well, I think the internet has said enough about it and I don’t feel like repeating the criticisms here. You could pull a random assortment of gripes from a hat and I’d probably sync up with the majority of them.

    In both cases, I was well aware of the fact that I may be burning myself. So I went in knowing I had nobody to blame but myself if my experience went sour. It’s why I never requested a refund on NMS, even though I probably could have gotten my sixty bucks back.

    I was always generally against preordering, although I do have my personal caveats based on prior experience and trust. I think I got my just punishment with NMS, which has since reinforced that opinion. But I would absolutely throw those principles out the window for, say, a Half-Life 3.

  24. Gorbachev says:

    The only reason I would pre-order a game these days was, if the pre-order discount was significant enough to warrant it. For example I got Forza Horizon 3 $20 off retail with a pre-ordering discount.

    Even successful games these days go on sale pretty soon after release. I have no real need to play new games on day one, in particular, because almost every online game will suffer from server issues on that inevitable first week traffic jam. I can wait a month or two and pick up the game sometimes with a steep discount.

  25. Gus314 says:

    As a youth I occasionally preordered games I was worried would sell out. As an adult I never do. I can probably get 20% off on release day if reviews are great and usually indie games keep me entertained. I’ll very rarely use early access, last was factorio which I didn’t regret as it was excellent at time of purchase and I’d loved the demo

  26. TheAngriestHobo says:

    I pre-ordered Final Fantasy XIII when I heard it was coming to the PC.

    I honestly don’t know what I was thinking.

  27. klops says:

    I have never regretted a pre-order since I’ve only pre-ordered Left 4 Dead 2, after a demo and after the first one, so it was very clear what I was getting. I also got a TF hat that I sold to some brilliant mind for $9.

    I’ve kickstarted/early accessed some games and that’s a bit different experience. Best have been Gollop’s Chaos Reborn and Age of Decadence. Those games also had a demo so I knew what to expect. Biggest disappointment is “That Which Sleeps” which is if not a scam, then given a lot of false promises in the campaign. It’ll never be published.

  28. Xocrates says:

    On the occasions I do pre-order I tend to try and do a “day-0” pre-order, in that the reviews are out but the game still technically isn’t, so I can still get whatever pre-order bonuses there might be, though even then usually only when there’s a discount – as an example, I had no intention of pre-ordering Dishonored 2, even though I’m pretty much guaranteed to buy it, but given the recent developments I might wait a few days.

    The point being that I generally only pre-order games that I either feel like I have enough hands-on information of, or games I would get even if they were crap. As a result even for games I’m disappointed by I cannot reasonably argue I regret pre-ordering them.

  29. Premium User Badge

    Big Dunc says:

    I don’t usually pre-order as I like to see some reviews first, and to be honest, I’ve got enough games in my unplayed stack to keep me going for a year. However, I did pre-order both Broken Age and Stellaris. Broken Age I do sort of regret as I thought it was average at best, despite it’s lineage. I haven’t gotten around to playing Stellaris yet, and probably won’t until the mid game has been improved.

  30. RobertB says:

    Sword of the Stars II — pre-ordered because the original game was (and still is) IMO the greatest space 4x of all time. This game was, at release, the worst game I have ever played for more than 5 minutes. Fortunately that turned into a refund situation, but that was the last time I pre-ordered something way in advance out of loyalty to a developer.

    • Biscuitry says:

      I was also burned on SotS2. Unlike you, I didn’t try for a refund, and hung on to it to see if, with time and patches, it could hold a candle to the original.

      You were right to get your refund.

  31. Premium User Badge

    bsplines says:

    No, but I think I ‘ve only ever pre-ordered 4 games and from these, two had already been released for consoles (Dark souls II, Valkyria Chronicles) and one had already very positive word from the community (Binding of Isaac:Rebirth) so I really only ever risked it once (Alice: Madness Returns).
    I ‘ve been more disappointed buying games at launch day if that counts (looking at you Dragon Age II).

  32. Palimpsest says:

    RPS, today you are pushing hard against pre-ordering and against what you call ‘anti-consumerism’ brought about by publisher’s economic agendas. I think there is some hypocrisy here in that if you were fully for the consumer, you wouldn’t just advise against pre-ordering, you’d advise against buying new games altogether and instead waiting until you have the hardware to run them in their full glory (if you haven’t already), they’re fully patched up and they’re extremely cheap. You can’t do that because it goes against your own agenda of creating hype for new stuff and generating visits to your site. No different to the publishers. Neither are you are doing anything ‘wrong’, imo, it’s just not right that you should be assuming the moral high ground.

    • ThePuzzler says:

      Yeah, RPS, why don’t you advocate for everyone waiting a couple of years after release before buying any new games? That would work great for consumers, apart from killing the games industry.

  33. Shinan says:

    If Kickstarters count as preorders I have maybe sort of regretted some that I haven’t managed to play and then they have been on sale before I managed to play them so basically I could have gotten them cheaper if I hadn’t bought them so early.

    For real pre-orders I’ve done that twice. Crusader Kings 2 and Hearts of Iron 4. I can’t say I regretted any of those.

  34. Rond says:

    Preordering X:Rebirth after clocking hundreds of hours in X3.

  35. Premium User Badge

    keefybabe says:

    Godus for me. In me second only to my friend who preordered Aliens: Colonial Marines.

    Aliens Colonial Marines: at least it’s not Godus

  36. playzintraffic says:

    I preordered the Mass Effect sequels, and didn’t regret it, even with the poor ending of ME3. Took me a month to get to that ending anyways, so I didn’t really care. And I got to thoroughly enjoy the “Day 1” experience of popping the game in and playing it, which was worth the cost to me.

    Destiny convinced me to never preorder another game that isn’t a ME sequel. I was sold on Destiny’s grand promise of a big space opera along the lines of ME but perhaps shoot-ier. I was thoroughly disappointed from the get-go.

  37. Premium User Badge

    Aitrus says:

    I pre-ordered Halo Wars for the Xbox 360, thinking “it’s like Age of Empires except with Halo!”. Got five hours out of the game. It was stupid, I really only did it for the access to the Halo: Reach multiplayer beta.

  38. ResonanceCascade says:

    “Regret” is a pretty strong word for something that is ultimately so unimportant/petty. I have preordered a handful of games that I didn’t end up liking much, but I enjoy the whole process of waiting for an anticipated game to come out, unlocking it right at release, and then jumping in for the first time and chatting with my friends who are doing the same. I like being a part of the conversation right when a game comes out.

    In the event that the game sucks, well, it’s not the end of the world. Gaming is on the cheaper end as far as hobbies go. Certainly cheaper than ATVs, hunting, fishing (unless you fish without a boat), autosports, or any of the other common hobbies where I live.

    I guess I just have a hard time getting riled up about the whole thing. I know I’m supposed to be constantly outraged at the evil greedy corporations who are exploiting me and roooooning gaming, but the stakes are ultimately too low for me to waste any of my “Stressed Out Capital” worrying about it. It’s a very low-priority life complaint.

    Also, I disagree with game reviewers often enough (tangent: what is that Arthur Gies guy at Polygon smoking? I can practically buy games by going with the opposite of what he says) that having access to them before a game releases doesn’t tell me much, if anything, more than going with my gut.

    I can guarantee you that I would hate Battlefield 1, despite the glowing reviews. Conversely, remember that Dark Messiah feature here the other day that was full of adoring fans in the comments? Yeah, that game got bad-to-middling reviews from most of the major outlets. I love Dark Messiah more than any game that’s been showered with 9’s and 10’s over the last decade, though.

    Anyway, I get the arguments against pre-orders, but I don’t think I’m going to participate in trying to kill the practice. No boycotts, protests, or wringing of fists from me.

    Sorry, that turned into a ramble. Guess I had a lot to say about this subject.

  39. Rosveen says:

    I pre-order rarely and only when I know I definitely want to play the game at release no matter what the reviews are, so if I regret something, it’s the purchase in general, not specifically pre-order. But I don’t think it’s ever happened to me, the games I care about enough to pre-order are typically solid. I’m a very casual buyer otherwise, I often buy games months after release when they’ve been dissected a million times so I know exactly what I’m buying.

    • Jeremy says:

      I’m in the same boat. I have only ever pre-ordered a handful of games (if you count EA or Kickstarter as pre-order), and have been pretty happy each time. In every case, I ask myself what the expectations of the game are going to be, and if it sounds impossible on paper (No Man’s Sky), then I don’t pre-order. As I think about it, it seems that most of my pre-orders have come through KickStarter, and I have been super happy with each purchase so far: Darkest Dungeon(KS), RimWorld(KS), Civ VI(10pm the night before it released), Divinity: Original Sin(KS), and Divinity: Original Sin 2(KS). These were games I was going to be purchasing anyway, and so it never felt like I was buying into any sort of hype.

  40. Synesthesia says:

    Oh. Yes.

    red orchestra 2. The state of the game as launch was nothing short of abysmal, and the netcode was an absolute disaster. All criticism of it was ignored, or mocked by the guy in charge of it. In time, we made enough noise that the guy got reassigned and the problem solved, but those were some rocky first months.

  41. v1tr1ol says:

    Yarrr?

  42. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Certainly. The one time the hype got the better of me which haunts me with gamer’s regret is my preordering of Warhammer Online (that it was a collector’s edition doesn’t help).

    I think I played that game for less than half a year. And that’s being generous.

  43. frenz0rz says:

    Empire: Total War. I’d be lying if I said I never preordered a game again after that, but the experience with Empire on day one certainly made me a hell of a lot more wary toward preordering from franchises/developers I trust.

  44. lukebee says:

    I don’t regret any pre-orders I’ve made, but that’s probably because I’ve only ever pre-ordered two games: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, and Zero Time Dilemma. In both cases, I got something extra out of it (a discount on Rebirth and a watch for ZTD), and in both cases the predecessors to the pre-ordered games were some of my all-time favorite games. Had either of those things not been the case, I probably would have just waited for reviews (and depending on those reviews, maybe waited for the game to be sold at a steep enough discount). As it turned out, Rebirth was good enough that I’ve put 100s of hours into it, and barely touched the original since, and while ZTD was possibly the low point of the Zero Escape series, that really says more about what a high bar the first two games set, because it was still fantastic. So yeah, no regrets here.

    • malkav11 says:

      I regret preordering Zero Time Dilemma because when I did so it was only coming out for handhelds, and the physical launch was an utter trainwreck, with Amazon refusing to ship preorder copies for well over a week after they were already selling it on their site. And then apparently more problems with getting the watches to people, but I’d already cancelled and got the Steam version because as amusing as the watch might have been to own I had no interest in getting jerked around still more when the version I actually wanted was mere clicks away.

  45. Ashrik says:

    BRINK! Yikes, what a mess that turned out to be. Most times I pre-order, it’s when I’ve already got a good idea on how the game works. For instance, I played Battlefield 1 already and quite liked it. Most things, I wait for post-release reviews. Glad I didn’t take the plunge with No Man’s Sky!

  46. Sorbicol says:

    No, never. The one I was cross about was Dragon Age: Inquisition because the second patch after launch rendered the game completely unplayable for me for the best part of a year. Because it didn’t break until the second patch I’d already played over the refund time limit so I was stuck with a game I couldn’t play due to performance issues, which to this day EA and Bioware never acknowledge was anything to do with them.

    Pre-ordering is a choice in the end. Usually for me pre-ordering is about getting the game I know I’m going to play as soon as it’s available so that I’m in the zeitgeist at release with the rest of community when it starts. XCOM:EU and XCOM 2 are probably the best examples there – so glad I pre-ordered them even if they were a little buggy and unbalanced when they were released.

  47. shocked says:

    I preordered once, because I’ve already seen 3 or 4 hours of gameplay on YT a week before release and I knew that it would be a good game for me. That game was Cities:Skylines and it worked out ok, because I played about 200 hours of it. (I haven’t touched it for a long time though, because the first DLC somehow made it worse, as it became clear that the “simulation” is actually super shallow.)

    But that was a fairly safe buy, because Colossal Order decided to let a bunch of youtubers play the game a week ahead and all of them enjoyed it.

    I wouldn’t preorder a game otherwise.

  48. Asrafil says:

    Wasteland 2 I regretted. A decent game but nowhere near of being a classic or must play in this limited time that I have as an adult.

    • laggerific says:

      That was one of the first things I ever kickstarted (after I was introduced to Kickstarter through the order of the stick campaign. In fact that Kickstarter still hasn’t paid in full, but still one of my favorite kickstarters ever).

      But, yeah, that was one of the first games I thought of when pondering this question. I had so much hope for that game, and even though I didn’t end up playing the game deeply until the updated edition, it still felt like a hollow game compared to what I was expecting.

      I’m not excited about wasteland 3, but very excited for bards tale IV.

  49. Ieolus says:

    Oh yes, I regretted a pre-order once or twice.

    First that comes to mind? Dragon Age 2. Pre-ordered on the strength of Dragon Age:Origins.

    Pre-ordering DA:I was on me after that. :(

  50. mrvega says:

    Pre-ordered Stellaris and Cities Skylines. Happy with both. Go Paradox.

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