The Flaw of the Culture
Pre-orders started as a way for people to ensure getting a copy of a game. This saved the old hassle of having to drive around to different game stores or wait till the game re-stocked. This was the reason I started pre-ordering games. It only took one instance of losing out on the physical copy for me to begin. I ended up getting a digital copy. That was later lost when I sold the system for an upgrade. But the desire to get a physical copy is no longer the sole reason for pre-ordering a game.
Now it is not just about the physical copy of the games, but the rewards that come with it. The rewards can vary from extra game content, levels, costumes, or weapons. Or physical rewards: game soundtracks or a steelbook case for the game. Pre-ordering isn’t even only done on physical copies but digital copies, as well.
Before going further, I want to explain why I pre-order and how. As I mentioned before, I started doing it to guarantee getting physical copies of the games. If I have the choice between digital and physical, I’ll take the physical. The collector in me would much rather have my game cases displayed than to see the list of games on my systems. Pre-ordering has also trained me to be more aware of release dates for games. I need to be aware of when games are coming out to be able to buy them. I mostly pre-order games I know I am going to get. The ones I excitedly wait and look out for new content are the priority. The games I am more uncertain of I often wait to hear feedback on before wanting to get, so I save time, money, and potential disappointment by not pre-ordering.
Now that I’ve shared my enjoyment of the pre-order system, it is time to talk about how this system has been flawed. Or rather how companies handle their pre-order rewards poorly. The most prominent issue comes from the pre-order rewards that involve extra game content. Some companies are starting to share this bonus for those who buy the Day One edition, not just for those who pre-order. But these extra content bonuses are not always made available for those who could not buy it or did not pre-order.
This winds up being cruel to people who did not even have the ability to pre-order the games. I remember growing up that my ability to get new games was limited to holidays. I rarely had a chance during this time to get games as soon they came out. Thinking of all those who are like that now and all the content they could miss out on is almost depressing.
It is understandable why this extra content is protected and promoted. The makers of these games want pre-orders to help ensure the success of their game titles. Why would people pre-order for the extra content if they can get it later anyway? That question is an easy answer. With pre-orders, this extra content is free with the purchase of the game. The people who purchase the game after the fact will need to pay for the extra content. While this sounds simple, it is not something companies tend to utilize.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided attempted what was the worst pre-order reward system conceived. The ‘Augment your Pre-order’ system might have sounded good on paper, but it did not last. This system was intended to be that, with a certain amount of pre-orders, tiers would be met to give extra content to players. With each tier only one reward could be chosen. The first tier was given automatically, but the amount to get to the next tier was unknown and only shown through percentages. Another downfall being that these tier would be giving piece of content that those buying Collections Editions were paying for. This system was later scrapped due to fan complaints.
I’ve come across people who refuse to pre-order in protest of the flaws of this system. I can understand those who prefer not paying for a game before they can play it. But, the game content that is exclusive to the pre-order is the main issue. Companies that do not give access to this content are truly leaving money on the table. It is all about being aware. Companies need to realize that we want the content. Just because we didn’t or couldn’t pre-order at the time of release does not make a fan less of a fan of a game or series. The only way to make them more aware is by talking about it. Complain about it if need be. If fan complain can end the ‘Augement my Pre-Order’ system then it should be able to get some pre-order exclusive content available.