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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).


What?? That Always Online thing really works huh.. Keeping out not just the pirates, but everyone else. Actually, pirates didn’t have the Uplay issues…

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!

I just wanna play :(

I just wanna play 🙁

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!

I Rest My Case

I Rest My Case

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).

No, no it wasn't worth it ;'(

Was It Worth It??

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? 

Marc Henriksen

I played my first video game when I was 4 years old and I haven't looked back since. If you can't find me playing videogames, writing, or playing music, I'm probably dead.

  • Tom Evans

    I Preorder, But I also go to an Independent retailer and sometimes want niche titles. They can’t order everything, So If interest isn’t shown, those odd titles can be out. Like guilty gear Xrd. I was one of two pre-orders. Nobody else even had interest

  • Yosharian

    Yep, anti-consumer. That’s exactly the problem.

  • coboney

    I think there’s a big difference also personally in preordering more niche titles and preordering AAA titles. The former help the development (similar to early access or such) and make sure it gets more attention ideally in the press. The latter is just big millionaires trying to milk every penny they can.

  • Nick

    Don’t pre-order myself, haven’t done a pre-order in quite a long time probably close to 10 years now.

  • I also agree. One simple rule to follow is that if there is exclusive content included with the pre-order you shouldn’t bother.

  • Sebastian Mikulec

    I have to admit I’ve been guilty of pre-ordering games in the past. It’s a practice I decided to stop last year. While I won’t cancel the lone pre-order I have left (The Witcher 3), I won’t be pre-ordering ever again, pre-order bonuses be damned.

  • Marvus

    I miss the times when games had demos before they were actually released and they were actual representation of the final product.
    Also, while I too preordered some games in the past, as far as I can remember the only game I haven’t actually played at all before preordering is the Witcher 3 and I still count that as a safe bet considering the series and the company’s past. I know, I shouldn’t, but I still have hope that there is at least one company who can be trusted and I hope their years of statements about their first priority is PC and the trust in their product and in gamers (supported this with the Witcher 3 being DRM free from day 1) isn’t just an empty bubble and they will deliver what they promised.
    Aside from that I was stable on the side of not preordering anything, especially since digital distribution is a common thing and there is no such cases as higher demand than available product, so even those, who are not patient enough to wait a few weeks for all the fixes and thorough research, can at least wait, in my opinion, until release day to see something about the actual product.

    And I think this fits here 🙂

  • Agt_Pendergast

    I have been avoiding pre-orders the past few years, but admittedly I did break it for one game in 2014. That was Bayonetta 2, so yeah, it was a gamble, but given Platinum and their track record as far as I’m concerned, seemed like low risk to me. And it ended up being my favorite game for that year. But that’s more of my exception and my moment to be a bit hypocritical as I do think pre-orders are not in the consumers best interest.

  • Alex Three

    I Pre-order games through Amazon from Nintendo, and I do this because I can still trust them. When shelter 2 comes out I’m going to probably pre-order it because I loved the first game and I’m sure the second will be good. But I’ll never pre-order some aaa garbage from a company I can’t trust.

  • Typical

    Preordering made sense back when games would sell out, Best Buy didn’t exist, and your regular department stores wouldn’t get games right away at launch. You’d go into Babbages, or EB games (now all Gamestops, bleh) and put down a few bucks to ensure you didn’t have to drive all over town looking for the game everyone but you is playing.

    The problem is, Gamestops realized they could use preorders to predict the size of initial order to make, thus preventing loss from falling values, and also creating false scarcity, making a preorder vital to getting that day 1 release. This manner of putting the cart before the horse put pressure on publishers to make sure there was a big presale or else thier initial shipping numbers would suffer, a game couldn’t be a “Bestseller” because there weren’t many non allocated copies to be bought anyway. Let’s also ignore that companies sitting on piles of preorder cash are essentially making free interest off of your money.

    So, this push to get high preorders, made early review vital, Gamestop owning Game Informer certainly helped, because they’re not going to tell you a product their parent company wants to sell you is garbage, but how to get readers of other publications fired up to preorder? Enter paid press parties and events and swag!

    Nowadays, you can walk into any store and pretty much pick up a day 1 release, because places like Walmart realized paying for expedited shipping to have a product release day pays off when customers come to your store and pick up Mt Dew and Doritos to go with the new game you have for them. There is no scarcity reason to preorder anymore. With preorders falling off because you now have more options to buy that title you want, companies have to look to other alternatives to use the easy mode of production estimation, so to get preorders up, what do they do? Well, let’s offer “exclusive” parts that 10 years ago would have been part of the game, and only let certain retailers carry these different “free bonuses”! Also, we need to pump up the review manipulation tactics to push the hype train.

    It’s just a damn shame how consumers caught on to that stuff I guess. When you really look at it, all the problems that led to Gamergate can be laid at the feet of Gamestop and their disgusting pushing of preorders and manipulating inventory based on preorders received.

    There is literally no reason to preorder anything, with digital distribution and the plethora of shopping options you WILL get a game release day without much trouble. Anything else now is just you being a gullible consumer.

  • I don’t even bother with pre order for most things anymore. WoW expansions still catch my fancy with what they offer and the fact that the game still presents a decent amount of entertainment.

  • Psyramics

    I only preorder now if I get a full other game or a hefty discount out of it. I’m pretty sure I only got Civ 5 because it came with the XCom pre-order.

  • SevTheBear

    Great read. Thanks Marc 🙂

    Pre-ordering games is a bad idea. I learned that lesson years ago. Always wait for your trusted reviewer to give you their 2 cents and if you hear about DLC plans you wait for a bundle deal. If we have learned anything over the last 8 years, it’s that early adopters gets all the fun with bugs, crashes and broken DRM.

    Games are released faster and with that we get more broken games at launch. This of course does not count for all games. But 2014 showed us that publishers is willing to release broken and unpolished products to get a fast cash in.

  • Marc Henriksen

    Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  • Rory Mitchell

    Pre-ordering has been a horrible experience for me as well, although not for the games you list. And my experience had less to do with bugs and more with simply an uninteresting gaming experience or 0-day DLC-fest that made the game feel unfinished to me.

    A question: does this resolution to not pre-order extend to supporting games via kickstarter, etc? That is another way of “pre-ordering” something, but it is also the life blood of indie developers, and healthy competition from them against the big companies could help improve the overall quality I would argue.

    Edit: I meant DLC, not DRM…oops!

  • Marc Henriksen

    Well, I don’t buy Early Access games, since I refuse to buy something that isn’t finished, hoping that it will actually be finished one day (AND live up the promises of the developers). I don’t like gambling my money. I’ve only ever supported 1 kickstarter that actually got funded, and that was Super Hot. I think Kickstarter is great. It gives a platform for developers to create what publishers wouldn’t touch, through gamers. By and for gamers. Supporting a game and making sure it is developed is one thing. Buying into a kickstarter campaign to get a copy at launch is something different (at least to me) I wouldn’t have supported the Super Hot kickstarter if it had already been funded when I saw it, but i was one of the first 100 backers at the time. I also backed a few other kickstarter campaigns that sadly never got funded.

    So that’s my view on Kickstarter. Great, but I’m not gonna use it as a form of preordering a game. Same with early access. I’m not in the mood for paying to be a guinea pig 😀

    Hope you liked the article 😉

  • dsadsada

    I never pre-ordered anyway so I’m good. Besides, most of the stuff I’m interested in comes from Japan anyway so I usually have a whole country to beta test the game for me.

  • Rory Mitchell

    Yep, very good article. Thanks for the clarification. I’m similar in my opinion on kickstarter/indiegogo/etc, but I will support a campaign to the level that I also get a copy of the game. If it isn’t completely to my liking that’s fine. The main purpose was to support greater variety and more niche games that focus more on my tastes (turn based strategy, rpg elements, etc).

    I won’t ever pre-order big games, and I’ve even taken it one step further in that I always wait for a GOTY/Platinum edition now, so that I don’t get caught up in the DLC money train.

  • At least seven years too late to learn this lesson but hey, better late than ever, right?

  • Pre-orders would be fine if instead in game dlc you would get a cool shirt or a key chain that says FIRST or something as incentive so that everyone would get a complete game and those who pre ordered something extra. Here is something you should do. Instead of buying the game day one you just wait patiently for a few months and buy the complete/definitve/goty edition for half the price. Its not like steam is gonna run out of copies :). As for reviews, I don’t read those anymore nor do I take them seriously. I just go to youtube.

  • DynastyStar

    I haven’t EVER preordered a game, not even once. I bought games used for the longest time on console, and on PC I wait awhile. Not only is preorder culture anti-consumer, but you’re rewarded more for waiting. Why should I buy a game to have it on day 1, when I can wait a couple of months to get it on sale? Hell, One Finger Death Punch(which is a game I love) was in a bundle on Bundle Stars(I believe?) a week after launch. Generally, I’ll wait a couple of years if I have to if it means that I can buy it in a bundle with some other games I’ve been wanting or look interesting or if I can buy it on a sale for 80% off. I can wait, I’ve got a HUGE backlog, that for all I know, I wouldn’t end up playing the “new game” it until a couple years from now anyways. I don’t NEED the game immediately. I can get by with games I already own until its got a big price cut.

  • DynastyStar

    in regards to Nintendo launch problems, did you not hear about the problems that Nintendo was having in regards to Super Smash Bros. 3DS? People were getting banned in tournaments for using Peach’s turnip ability. The reason for this is because in tournaments, items aren’t allowed, and in the coding, Peach’s turnip is considered an item. I can’t seem to find a video about it(I believe he did two videos but I could be wrong), but here’s a video where AlphaOmegaSin talks about people getting banned from the servers for 136 years:

  • herp derp

    I think I love you TR.