We’ve all done it and it seems like a great idea. Well, it used to be a great idea, back when games weren’t available through digital download. The local video game store would have your copy waiting on the day of release and the money upfront helped smaller game development studios get the ball rolling.
Now, preorders are just a way for game studios to take your money before they even finish making the game and it has a huge negative impact on the game’s finished quality. Large game studios such as Infinity Ward, DICE, and Red Rock Studios don’t need the preorder money upfront because they have loads of capital ready to go. Games are available through digital download so there is no issue of not being able to find a copy in stores anymore.
Game studios know that you will give them your money and that you won’t complain much if the game is terrible. They get the attitude of “We already made our money on the game, no need to do a good job.”
If a game title didn’t get a single pre-order the developer is pressured to put a lot of effort to make sure the game is of the utmost highest quality to insure that the most people purchase the game so their development cost isn’t a waste.
Ask yourself this, how many games would you play if your friends didn’t play them with you? How many games did you stop playing when your friends stopped playing them?
How many games didn’t live up to your expectations? How many were REALLY worth the money you gave those companies?
I’d wager that the majority of games that you have paid for weren’t worth what you paid. The majority of the remainder weren’t purchased for the game itself but because your friends were playing it; you bought it because it was something to do with your friends.
Look at the “Call of Duty” series to include Black Ops and all related games. They are all very much the same. It’s a multiplayer game that dies out when your friends move on, probably to the next installment. Sprinkle on a very short and poorly written single player story and then add in a zombie mode and you have every single Call of Duty title since the first Modern Warfare.
Battlefield isn’t any better. Battlefield 3 was an acceptable advancement from Battlefield 2, but it had problems. If DICE (the developing studio) had fixed the problems with a patch or maybe an expansion, that would have been ideal and the right thing to do. Instead they released Battlefield 4, which largely just fixed the problems with Battlefield 3 and added new maps and such – that’s it. Then they decided to go more towards what Call of Duty is by releasing Battlefield Hardline, which is just a really crappy action movie staring you.
Other titles aren’t free from poor quality. Look at Titanfall. Once your friends stopped playing that game, so did you. This time it only took about 3 weeks before everyone forgot that they had spent $60 US Dollars on that title.
Destiny will follow suit. Dying Light is in that group. So is Evolve, which will probably be the most short-lived of them all if Turtle Rock Studios doesn’t start cranking out some content that adds to the replay value.
Do you see where I’m going here? If not, keep reading.
I have completely stopped preording 99% of my games. I first do my research and ask myself the following questions:
- Will it be fun to play without friends?
- Even if it is primarily a multiplayer game..?
- Does it have solid replay value? Will I be playing it after I have beaten the game? (And not just to “grind” levels or prestige or upgrades.)
- Is it a sequel or part of a series of titles, such as Call of Duty? If so, have the past titles been pretty much carbon copies of each other with new “maps” and models and graphics and such?
- Does it involve heavy use of in-game purchases or micro transactions?
- Do I want the game ONLY because my friends are playing it?
- Are the trailers just a bunch of flashy cinematics designed to make you say “that’s cool” instead of actual gameplay?
A lot of times I have to wait for the game to be released. Honestly, I’d rather have to wait a few extra days to get my hands on the game than realize that I had wasted my money on a game that I won’t play for more than a few weeks. Those few extra days are not going to kill you.
I also research actual player experiences instead of what the studio wants you to see. A lot of times they will show you the top 5% of a game and hold back the crappie aspects about their game. So I look for average players that aren’t in bed with the studio playing the game. Whenever possible I play the beta test for the game. If the studio still does things right, I give the free demo for the game a shot and that is something we barely see anymore.