They’re the devil I tell you, the devil!
I won’t lie, I used to like pre-orders. They made sense in a physical world, where limited copies were a problem. I want the game on that day dammit, what do you mean you’re out?
Then the interwebs came around, Steam made digital distribution the norm and pre-orders morphed. It has absolutely zero to do with reserving a copy. Nothing. Zilch. Some might say “well I can pre-install and get to play at midnight”. Then pre-order the night before if that actually means something to you.
And exclusives for pre-orders have to stop. This is horribad as they are often exclusive to a separate platform. Best Buy gives you this, Steam gives you that, GMG gives another thing. None of it is available after launch. Blargh.
Paying for Beta
And let’s get something else straight. Anyone who is paying a company to beta (hell, alpha) test their product is an idiot and part of the problem. I’m not talking about Kickstarter, where these are small companies looking for capital. I’m talking about SoE charging people for Landmark and doing nothing with it. I’m talking about Steam Early Access. I’m talking about Blizzard taking your money during Alpha for HotS.
I know a lot of bloggers opted into Landmark. I know of none that still play. I also know the game hasn’t launched.
This is in part due to the “get it out the door to make money” problem that’s always existed but it’s compounded with pre-orders. See, when you buy a pre-order it’s a contract with the developer to release on a specific date. If they miss that date, you’re eligible for a refund, without question. Even if the pre-order says they can slip a date, by law in most countries, they have to give you a return. This is why kickstarters can delay, you’re not paying for the product, you’re giving money to the company, and as a bonus, getting access to the game.
We wouldn’t have had Sims4, Diablo3, SimCity, CoD4, Dragon Age, Halo Collection and AC:Unity if people stopped pre-ordering. Well maybe they still would have shipped as shit but they wouldn’t have been paid for it. It seems like most games today have a day 1 patch that fixes a mile-long list of bugs.
Just Wait a Bit
Seriously people, just wait a couple weeks after release. Sure, you might miss out on some of the leveling experience but here’s what you gain.
- Less bugs than launch, likely 2 patches in
- A more stable network
- A downstream economy (things cost less)
- A better community review
- In today’s world, a sale
With online games, often times they will undergo drastic changes in just a few short patches. Granted, sometimes it takes longer. Diablo 3 today is nearly unrecognizable to what was launched, aside from the art and story. SimCity is offline. Unity has faces. DA:I has hair.
Vote With Your Wallet
It really isn’t complex. Companies do things if people pay them to do it. They will continue to do it and try to charge more for less work. They need to make money to survive and that’s part of the deal. Selling you a promise is what snake oil is for; selling you a product is a separate matter.
You work hard for your money, so should the person trying selling you something.