And so, the year of 2014 has come to pass. Happy New Year to all you lovely readers! Did any of you make any New Year’s resolutions? I did. ” I shall never again pre-order a game. Ever.”
As far as I’m concerned, that little phase should be notched directly into the Tablets of Stone, overwriting some of the more useless commandments! You’re not religious? Tattoo it on your arm then! This is important, after all!
2014 was a year with many new promising games for videogamers to feast on:
The arguably most hyped game of all time, Watch_Dogs, the biggest moneycow of the Xbox empire x5, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, PS4’s first driving game, featuring some stunning visuals WITH A “FREE” PS+ VERSION! DriveClub. And then there was the most ambitious Assassin’s Creed game yet (And probably the most expensive one. Hell, it was probably one of the biggest releases Ubisoft threw out to the lynching crowds).
I think you’ll all agree these games were highly anticipated in 2014, yeah? As you probably know, they all have one thing in common. THEY DIDN’T F*CKING WORK ON LAUNCH! Hell, some of them still don’t work properly now.
Pre-Ordered Watch_Dogs? Well, I’m sure you had fun at launch, staring at the error messages because of the DRM system (damn Uplay), making the game unplayable for days. Not to forget all the framerate issues on PC. (Also worth mentioning are the very noticeably downgraded graphics, and the inexplicable hidden graphics options just waiting to be turned on, but somehow missing from the game unless you go digging in the code. These options made the game look much better on PC and also fixed some of the many performance issues for some users).
Pre-Ordered Halo: The Master Chief Collection? That didn’t work out well either, did it? The arguably most important part of the games in the collection, the multiplayer, wasn’t working quite as expected. Well, it wasn’t really working at all, was it? The multiplayer issues were such a big problem that the president of 343 Games had to apologize to their customers, giving out free copies of Halo 3: ODST, a free month of xbox live, a new map, and plenty of heartfelt words, I’m sure. Very disappointing, as this was arguably the biggest system seller the Xbox One has had at this point.
With all the early reviews praising the game, which came after playing the multiplayer at review events (and obviously didn’t represent what consumers got in the final package), there should have been consequences for those that pushed early reviews, refusing to see the games as the regular consumer would – however there were none. This is another problem rising from pre-orders, as you would have only heard the voices of reviewers, not ordinary gamers, and therefore you would never have gotten the full picture. The fact that a game that was broken weeks after release still holds an 85 on MetaCritic is a testament to a broken system, but that’s a discussion for another time!
DriveClub? I hardly know her! *ehm*. Well, that launch was… disastrous.. Evolution made a pretty good driving game. Such a shame their servers were toasted 2 minutes after launch, burning the multiplayer to the ground. The free ps+ version is nowhere to be seen having been postponed indefinitely. Safe to say people were pretty pissed… At least we just got the weather patch, right guys? Those raindrops… Nevermind.
And the unforgettable launch of Assassin’s Creed Unity. Not unforgettable in a good way though. Unity was probably the most disastrous launch Ubisoft has ever had, actually devaluing their stocks, turning consumers into pitchfork-wielding mobs filled with a fierce blood-lust. Unity was absolutely littered with bugs, massive pop-in problems, faces disappearing in cutscenes, players falling through solid ground plummeting to the foggy depths of the animus, players walking in the air, massive framerate drops…
The PC port was absolutely awful as well. Ubisoft is even afraid of getting sued by customers, adding a legal catch to their “free game if you bought the Unity Season Pass,” saying that the consumers cannot sue Ubisoft should they take up that offer. After a myriad of problems patches have been released, but some of those problems still persist. I actually had Unity preordered, managing to cancel the second I heard about the issues. This is the only time I’ve ever praised a European release being a couple of days later than the US one!
So, why do people even pre-order to begin with? Convenience? Pre-order incentives? Anticipation? When I’ve pre-ordered in the past, it’s been a mixture of convenience and massive anticipation of a game. The urge to get a game on launch is a great and irresistible one. Pair that with a small DLC pack as a pre-order incentive, and who wouldn’t be tempted? These past years, companies have been pushing pre-orders to an extreme, cutting off content and making it pre-order exclusives. These companies will go to great lengths to secure your money, without giving you the opportunity to actually test the product they are promising.
If you didn’t know this already, this might come as a shock to you… But these companies aren’t your friends. They’ve shown time upon time again, that they do not hold your best interest at heart. Their thoughts are on the bottom-line, on the upcoming meeting with the investors. Do you think Sega and Gearbox thought about the gamers when they released Aliens: Colonial Marines after deceiving the world at E3 with a version of the game that wasn’t at all representative of the final product. Do you think the pre-order incentives for Colonial Marines was worth the pre-order? Think about that one for a second.
The heavy focus on getting the consumers to pre-order games, the recent launch-failures of high profile games, Unity having a review embargo that ended after the game was actually released, downgraded games, massive marketing campaigns… All of this is behavior from publishers that screams “ANTI-CONSUMER.”
They don’t offer pre-order exclusive DLC and cut content as a favor to consumers. They do it to make you disregard any and all final opinions on the game at launch. Anything that would make you doubt the potential purchase is washed away when you pre-order a game (this is especially the case when embargo dates are set at a very late time).
By pre-ordering, you’re also saying that you’re ok with them cutting content, and that you don’t mind the bugs and problems of the launch copies. These days, we’re not supposed to expect playing a “fixed” game until weeks after launch when the big patches have arrived. “Well, that’s to be expected with big games launching, right?” NO! It’s not, and by pre-ordering a game, you’re saying you’re alright with releasing bug-ridden games filled with problems and issues.
If you wait patiently, and buy the game when it’s actually playing the way it’s supposed to, waiting for opinions from trusted sources with your best interests at heart, you’re sending a very different message to developers and publishers: “I will not pay to be a beta tester!”
So by pre-ordering games, you’re not just gambling with your money; You are also contributing to anti-consumer business practices that altogether hurt the game industry. I don’t know about all of you, but I won’t be pre-ordering any more. I’ve been burned enough times, and I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. The leesson of 2014 is one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. I’m writing this IMO to share my view on pre-orders, and if you agree, you should tell your friends! Make strong arguments, with plenty of examples to back it up. This pre-order craze needs to stop, and it will be for the best of the consumers. For the gamers! For us!
Do you pre-order? Did you get burned in 2014? Why do you pre-order your games? Will you keep pre-ordering?