There Are Only Three Reasons to Pre-Order Video Games

Resident Evil 7

Lightgun Galaxy’s Josh Wirtanen recently explained 10 reasons why pre-order culture won’t bring about the apocalypse. He made some good points, which actually made me reconsider my stance on the whole concept. Or, at least, I feel less opposed to the idea of pre-ordering as a whole.

Still, I would argue there are only three reasons to pre-order anything, whether it’s a video game or a tub of peanut butter.

1. The item is super rare.

Sometimes, a game/console/accessory/movie ticket/whatever is rare or popular enough, in such short supply or a combination of these scenarios that you might not be able to simply walk into a store and find it readily available for purchase. This sometimes happens with niche JRPGs, games from smaller developments studios, and pretty much anything that has to do with Nintendo.

I’ve fallen victim to this in the past. There were times I assumed the game I wanted would certainly be available whenever I had interest in buying it and the money to do so. In times like these, being wrong can break a guy’s game-loving heart.

Sometimes pre-ordering is the only way to guarantee a successful acquisition of an item. Josh himself had an issue with amiibo figures, as recounted in a podcast episode long, long ago.

Of course, retailers might artificially inflate the risks of not pre-ordering something, but by and large this isn’t an epidemic; it’s just a bit underhanded.

2. You can pre-install a game before launch and unlock it the second it becomes available.

If you already know you’re going to purchase a title no matter what the reviews may say, why not pre-order it digitally and pre-install it so that it’s fully playable the second it launches? This option isn’t available for every game, of course, but when it is, it’s a no-brainer — especially if it’s available to play at midnight on launch day.

But make sure you read the description beforehand, as digital pre-orders don’t always allow pre-installation.

3. Those goddamn pre-order bonuses.

As Josh had mentioned, a lot of times companies will offer an incentive to pre-order, a costume or special gun or a car made out of Rockstar Energy Drink cans.

Mad Max Thirst Cutter

Most often it is just some glitzy bullshit that has no bearing on the game’s playability. However, there are rare occasions when the game sees an element stripped out completely in order to be offered as a pre-order bonus.

This was the case for Metro: Last Light.  Sort of. In order to play the game on its hardest setting, Ranger Mode, one needed to get their hands on the first run of Last Light. Pre-ordering was the only way to guarantee you’d get Ranger Mode without having to pay an extra $5 for the DLC upgrade.

With Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, we saw the pre-order taken to extreme levels of ugliness. The publisher, Square Enix, would unlock bonuses for the community based on how many units of the game were pre-sold.

Deus Ex Pre-order

The idea failed hard, and Square Enix reversed this decision when the outcry against it was unsurprisingly vitriolic. Although this was an isolated misstep, it could hint at the direction pre-order culture might go if things are allowed to get out of hand.

This is the kind of bullshit that drives gamers nuts, and this is one of the reasons pre-orders have become so maligned in the gaming community. And I can’t say I blame anyone for feeling that way.

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