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Pre-Orders Are Not Ruining The Industry
In some of my previous articles I discussed topics from either side of the issue to have a fair discussion on the subject at hand. I will not be discussing every position in this argument. I’m not Charles Dickens, after all. Instead, I will focus on one major argument for brevity’s sake.
What we see here is the idea that when a company gets your money early they stop caring and that is the last you see of a quality project. Now that they have your money, the argument claims, they are more concerned with shipping the product to you on time than putting out a finished game. We see this with games like Assassin’s Creed: Unity, where the game launched broken and buggy (and was not the first Assassin’s Creed game to do so), or Watch Dogs, where the game itself was much less than people were hoping for after a staggeringly good E3 showing a couple years prior to release.
This is a fair point, but the issue may be the company causing trouble rather than the sales method. CD Projekt RED, for example, has been selling pre-orders of The Witcher 3 through Good Old Games (their website) and Steam almost since its reveal and yet people still trust them to put out a good product. Why? Well, they consistently put out good products and have, to be frank, excellent costumer relations.
I sincerely believe the real issue here is patching, as companies can now put out an unfinished game and actually be able to finish it at a later date, but we shall discuss other things as I have already discussed patches.
Personally, I have only pre-ordered a handful of games, and from that handful of games I have never once been burned. I follow a set of personal rules that govern what I am willing to spend my money on in terms of unreleased projects.
First, you must ask yourself if you are willing to trust this company. Have they done anything you find shady? Do you have reason to believe they will put out a broken or boring game? Finally, have they behaved in such a way that you feel confident that they have the consumer in mind? Essentially, are you dealing with Ubisoft or a company whose quality you can trust?
Step two involves asking yourself if you would enjoy this game. Is it from a franchise you love? Does the promotional material that you can trust show it to be good (meaning no E3 vertical slices for journalists, no CG trailers that show you nothing about a game, but just solid gameplay)?
Step three is a simple matter of anything known or rumored about the game that makes you not want it. For example, I saw the trailer for Sword Coast Legends and was in awe of what it promised. It seemed to imply complete creative freedom for the Dungeon Master, which is all a Dungeons & Dragons game needs to be top tier. But word reached me regarding DLC skulduggery and a lack of actual creative freedom, painting the game more like Dungeonland than the Dungeons & Dragons I love. So, I decided to not pre-order and instead wait for more information.
Those three steps can save you a lot of trouble when it comes to pre-ordering. They certainly serve me well enough, though I expect others to be able to raise further questions and maybe even more steps to keep the consumer safe, and that is a wonderful thing. Just don’t blame pre-ordering games for companies treating you poorly.