Jimquisition: The Poison of Pre-Order Culture

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Anytime a seemingly important piece of content is partitioned off for pre-order or day one DLC content, I realize how little the developers care about the cohesion or completeness of their own narrative.

EA, of course, is the worst offender with this. How can you sell a fantasy RPG with entire characters as partitioned off content? We saw it happen to Dragon Age and Mass Effect where they started designing party members that were meaningless to the overall plot due to the way they designed "content" to be dropped in and out at will. These practices hurt videogames more than people realize.

ObsidianJones:
And more over... it's free content. I keep looking to see where you have to pay extra because I never pre-ordered before. Looking up the process, it seems like you put 5 dollars down to pre-order, and that five dollars is taken off of the final purchase? So, in a sense it would be like getting '400 Days' bundled with the Walking Dead Season 1 for really no extra money.

The thing about pre-ordering is you're committing to buy before you even know if the game is any good. They want you to get hyped and excited because people who are excited are more likely to put down their money sight unseen for a game that, for all they know, could be a complete and utter piece of shit. You won't know until the reviews come in. And if there's a review embargo until release day, you won't know until it's in your hands. If you're lucky, you'll get to see the reviews before picking up a physical copy in a store and they might let you cancel the pre-order at no cost to yourself. More likely, if you were excited enough to slap your money down on it before it's out, you might have it in your hands and pop it into a system before you know it's shit. Now that extra content isn't free because best case scenario you trade it in for half it's value. Worst case scenario, you pre-ordered a digital copy on the platform of your choice and you're out your full purchase price when it turns out the game is shit. That free content just cost you $60.

Pre-order bonuses exist for one reason: to get people to part with their money. In the case of bonuses for bad games, it's to get them to part with their money before they know any better and realize the game was a bad buy. The entire concept of pre-ordering a game before the reviews are out is idiotic and only benefits the company making the game. The idea of withholding the only content the majority of people will give a shit about and making it a pre-order bonus so you only get it if you do the stupid thing that benefits them is borderline unethical. I say borderline because anyone who lacks the intelligence to recognize the customer is being played probably won't do a very good job holding onto their money anyway.

I agree with several of the posts here indicating that "pre-order fever" has even gotten to indie development with "early access" for me that is worse then an AAA studio for you are pre-ordering and never even sure if you will get the finished project good or bad.

Demonchaser27:

If it takes the whole thing collapsing then so be it.

Assuming it would collapse, which is a pretty big assumption. We're not in the 80s anymore. That kind of crash is obscenely unlikely.

The next generation of developers and publishers will be forced to learn from that mistake or suffer the same fate.

Going back to the "takeaway" message, they might learn from their mistakes and institute other predatory processes which are more successful. Hell, this is why people are switching to the F2P model.

There are going to be more THQ's whether we like it or not.

THQ's demise came largely at the hands of overspeculation on niche, proprietary hardware and games based upon that. IT's actually kind of unlikely we'll see a lot of those, whether you like it or not. The only reason I can think to claim that is because you actually want it to happen, but wishful thinking isn't very pragmatic.

I'm sorry I'm not buying games that give me less content for more money than 10 years ago.

So, if I might be so bold as to ask, what was the last game you bought? Because that seems to apply to most of the game industry, indies included, unless you count sales. In which case, you could nullify the argument by a single Steam Sale.

Elyxard:
Anytime a seemingly important piece of content is partitioned off for pre-order or day one DLC content, I realize how little the developers care about the cohesion or completeness of their own narrative.

EA, of course, is the worst offender with this. How can you sell a fantasy RPG with entire characters as partitioned off content? We saw it happen to Dragon Age and Mass Effect where they started designing party members that were meaningless to the overall plot due to the way they designed "content" to be dropped in and out at will. These practices hurt videogames more than people realize.

I disagree that EA is the worst offender, for I do believe if those characters weren't included as DLC we would never get them at all and I am of the opinion that would have been for the best if they just scrapped and never brought to the game.

The pre-order bonuses that are bothering me the most are the ones that are exclusive to a specific platform such as what Ubisoft is doing with Assassin's Creed where you have entire aspects of the game restricted to one of platforms that the game is one.

I think these days the only time I preorder anything is when the game in question has a collectors edition with a physical bonus I feel is worth the asking price.

Usually that just boils down to the next World of Warcraft expansion pack which usually comes with an art book and a copy of the sound track. These are things I like that, probably could be delivered in a DDL method but I rather prefer to have as physical copies.

Vivi22:
[quote="ObsidianJones" post="6.855337.21179893"]The thing about pre-ordering is you're committing to buy before you even know if the game is any good. They want you to get hyped and excited because people who are excited are more likely to put down their money sight unseen for a game that, for all they know, could be a complete and utter piece of shit. You won't know until the reviews come in. And if there's a review embargo until release day, you won't know until it's in your hands. If you're lucky, you'll get to see the reviews before picking up a physical copy in a store and they might let you cancel the pre-order at no cost to yourself. More likely, if you were excited enough to slap your money down on it before it's out, you might have it in your hands and pop it into a system before you know it's shit. Now that extra content isn't free because best case scenario you trade it in for half it's value. Worst case scenario, you pre-ordered a digital copy on the platform of your choice and you're out your full purchase price when it turns out the game is shit. That free content just cost you $60.

Pre-order bonuses exist for one reason: to get people to part with their money. In the case of bonuses for bad games, it's to get them to part with their money before they know any better and realize the game was a bad buy. The entire concept of pre-ordering a game before the reviews are out is idiotic and only benefits the company making the game. The idea of withholding the only content the majority of people will give a shit about and making it a pre-order bonus so you only get it if you do the stupid thing that benefits them is borderline unethical. I say borderline because anyone who lacks the intelligence to recognize the customer is being played probably won't do a very good job holding onto their money anyway.

But then it all becomes subjective, doesn't it? I paid full price for Titanfall, hearing the reviews... And I didn't like it. I just didn't like it. Reviews, let's plays, all that stuff can all be positive and you can play it and not like it. All content will cost. How it affects you as a customer is what means something.

I'm not lying when I say this, but there are some games I feel bad for getting on a Steam Sale. That there is so much and it means that much to me, I actually feel guilty that I got something I treasure at a discount. Like the Secret World. I've had so much fun with that game and so much love as been put into it I feel like a freaking thief. But then, I paid full for games like Titanfall and... simply wish I didn't. No matter how many game of the year awards it might pull down.

youji itami:
The developers do care it's the publisher's who are c**t's,

The developers are keeping silent on the subject. Until Jim himself gets an email from an anonymous developer confessing his anger with the leash Sega has put on him, I'm going to assume the dev doesn't have a problem with how this is turning out.

Is that a pissy attitude to take? Yes. But disappointment after disappointment has hardened me. They have to EARN my trust.

Well that turned unexpectedly erotic there at the end, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who kept scrolling the timer back.

I've pre-ordered two games in my life.

NEVER AGAIN.

Maybe it's just me but I think the Jimquisition could use a more positive episode. Less "These guys keep doing it wrong!" and more "Look at what an awesome job these guys are doing! Wouldn't the industry be more awesome if more companies were like that?"

Just a suggestion.

Ronack:
Pre-orders are a nifty tool for distributors to distribute their games according to the demand of certain area's. They'd want their games to be available at all times, so pre-ordering can get them to ship additional copies with the core shipment. THAT is how pre-orders should be used. Instead, the games industry has taken it and warped it in to a hideous monstrosity to be used as performance ratings like they do with Meta-Critic and also allow stores like GameStop to take a monopoly on exclusive content so that they will draw in more buyers. It's a load of crock. The fact that they're withholding Alien content from an Aliens game only shows just how deep they've fallen in to the rabbit hole.

If this was the first video game every sold. You'd have a very strong point. However there is an extreme plethora of demographic information which is available to pretty much all distributors that give them a pretty darn good idea how many copies they need to send where to make sure it is available. I would be wiling to bet the problem behind pre-orders is bad KPI. Day one sales has somehow become the biggest indication of game success, more important than year one sales, more important that profitability, more important that consumer review, more important than critical review. Further Game journalists need to take partial credit for that. It is so easy to report on how many day one copies a game sold and then talk about how wonderful that game is. Reporting on overall game reception over the period of year takes time, diligence, and the ability to do some research. Somehow day one sales became the equivalent of opening weekend tickets for a movie.

There are games on GOG that have been selling copies for more than 10 years. Lets have more stories about that and make longevity the KPI that the studios want to hit and less of the "XYZ sold X million copies in 1 day" stories which abound on this website.

rbstewart7263:

Bindal:
And I can't even remotely agree with Jim here:
Alien Isolation is about Amanda Ripley. Selling a DLC with the original Nostromo Crew (which are all but one, at the time Isolation takes place, are kinda, sorta... you know... dead?) telling a story we already know, then that's fine by me. It's a bonus in every way.
Now if the game would advertise itself as playable version of the original movie or a parallel story where you may run into the original cast, it would be a whole different case. But as it stands, it's not. And if you don't want to pre-order or get the DLC later but still want to know about it... Alien is over 25 years old - get it and freaking watch it!

Im with this guy here. I kind of think that the dlc is both justified and makes a full purchase of the new game worth it. The only thing stingy here is that sega doesnt have my trust like cd project but perhaps this is there way of being sincere. Time will tell.

Plus someone pointed out how they are trying to "force it down your throat before gameplay is revealed. Well youl still be able to preorder right up until near the game comes out and we have a whole slew of gameplay videos to watch. So if someone wants to preorder now and risk getting dashconned in the process(OH! OH!!!!!! ) lmao Well thats on them.

If the content is appropriate or not to be a DLC is not the point, really. It is the fact that a huge investment in content is being made, before the game is even out, to coerce fans of the franchise. They don't know if the game they are making will be well received, but they know fans won't be able to pass the original cast in playable form.

I would totally be in favor of an expansion (or DLC) further down the road on those lines, to complement a game that have sold on its merits alone. But all this effort to get our money before the game is out will most often lead to a lack of focus in the game itself.

Jim, is right, a few years ago, this would be a cool unlockable in the game. It would contribute to make the game better. It is now being used as a marketing tool. IN terms of gameplay, value and consumer respect we are going backwards.

In any case, I do agree that this particular content is not being cut from the game itself and is mostly a bonus, but it is still our loss that it is not in the game. I don't know, maybe the game itself is full of content with incredible extras, great replayability, unlockables and nifty surprises along the way, but I somehow doubt it.

The point is: instead of worrying about making a great game, they are more worried about finding ways to make us buy it without seeing it.

Sanunes:

Elyxard:
Anytime a seemingly important piece of content is partitioned off for pre-order or day one DLC content, I realize how little the developers care about the cohesion or completeness of their own narrative.

EA, of course, is the worst offender with this. How can you sell a fantasy RPG with entire characters as partitioned off content? We saw it happen to Dragon Age and Mass Effect where they started designing party members that were meaningless to the overall plot due to the way they designed "content" to be dropped in and out at will. These practices hurt videogames more than people realize.

I disagree that EA is the worst offender, for I do believe if those characters weren't included as DLC we would never get them at all and I am of the opinion that would have been for the best if they just scrapped and never brought to the game.

The pre-order bonuses that are bothering me the most are the ones that are exclusive to a specific platform such as what Ubisoft is doing with Assassin's Creed where you have entire aspects of the game restricted to one of platforms that the game is one.

Actually, in the case of Dragon Age 2 Sebastian was clearly cut from the main content to be used as DLC. There are several items in the game that you can't even use (unless you make yourself an archer :D) without the character.

Well, wasn't going to comment, but then you mimicked someone literally sticking their head up someones ass and licking it dry, that I had to... for no particular reason, aside from that probably being the first time anyone on the face of the planet did that, and I wanted the world to know I was witnessed it.

Oh yeah, and fuck pre-order bonuses, fuck this backward ass industry, but especially fuck the people that apologize for this crap and allow it to happen.

Only game I don't regret pre-ordering was Xenoblade Chronicles, because I was a part of Operation Rainfall that wanted to prove people still were hungry for JRPGs when even Square Enix was claiming otherwise.

Then the game went out of print quickly, the praise skyrocketed, and the game itself was a fully-complete and massively robust without any need for any DLC ever.

Just like everything else in the gaming industry (DLC, microtransactions, online multiplayer, etc) pre-orders used to be good, but game publishers have manipulated and twisted the concept into a tool to screw over consumers.

And the whole Gamestop getting exclusive story levels, isn't that illegal? I thought the most you got was retail exclusive editions was bonus items, character skins and maybe a gameplay area where the only dialog is to explain what you are doing there? This is an entire storyline that only pre-orders at Gamestop will get? Doesn't seem legal.

Jim's impersonation of a game publisher was amazingly spot on... get this man an award!... ..anyways.. i've never been dumb enough to pre-order a game.. there's been a few i've considered pre-ordering directly from the game company's website because they came with a limited edition poster and statue/figure that wouldn't be available separately.. i ended up not pre-ordering and didn't miss out on anything really.. i've never seen the logic of pre-ordering a game when you have no idea if the game will actually be good or not.. you only really have the word of the developer/publisher that the game will be perfect.. but it could end up having game breaking bugs in it.. that's why no matter how much i want a game, i always wait for reviews and never pre-order

Would you guys consider kickstarter and things like that in the same realm as preorders or is this more in line with the whole retail exclusive/season pass nonsense? I ask because every game I've backed on kickstarter I have given enough for a copy of the game on release and haven't been disappointed so far. I've also bought a select few early access games and have had good experience with them as well. I know of a few early access games that fell short for people, but I've never paid for one of those.

Shdwrnr:
Would you guys consider kickstarter and things like that in the same realm as preorders

Kickstarter is different you are not pre-ordering a game you are funding it.

Ehh, Respectfully, I disagree. I wouldn't let a couple rotten apples (or in this case, the entire triple A gaming industry) ruin the bunch. Maybe it's because I like the feelies, seeing that I preordered both the new Persona games just to get those 22 Major Arcana cards, or maybe I like paying off a game five dollars at a time over a couple months rather than dropping 60 bucks in one go.

There's also the fact that midnight releases are just fun. I remember the Pokemon X/Y release had that enthusiastic atmosphere that I normally ave to wait for a convention for, not to mention I would rather a physical copy than digital distribution, but that's just preference.

So, yes. Some preorders are bad. Some Dlc is bad, but that doesn't mean they all are.

Your impersonations at the end had me laughing out loud great video, Jim.

Personally I don't mind pre-ordering something if I really want it, but I never pre-order from stores as it's not worth it (GAME, Grainger Games or a supermarket are by and large the only choice in the UK to my knowledge). I always pre-order from Amazon as they tend to be the cheapest option but also that the price never gets any higher then when you pre-ordered the item in question but also the fact they don't charge until they send the thing. These days, however, I usually only trust Nintendo when pre-ordering things as they always deliver and don't cut content for DLC, which has been bothering me for a long time, such as when Codemasters had about five different packs with exclusive cars and track variants for GRiD 2 for different retailers for the console versions but gave them all away on Steam along with (the frankly better) original and again, the price was better.

Thing is, Jim, we're not the people who need telling this. It's the average person in the street who doesn't know there's better alternatives who isn't trying to fleece them.

And this is why dear viewers you buy used.

The only things game wise I've pre-ordered this year;

Super Robot Wars OG Saga Masou Kishin F Coffin of the End
Person Q Wild Card Edition
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus
Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson
Tales of Xillia 2

These are games from companies I've got no problem giving that little extra help as their games typically don't have many copies printed, especially with Persona Q cause as I'm in the UK we've got the same collector's edition as the US but its very limited and plus Atlus aren't total jerks with their consumers at least in my experience. Same can be said for Banpresto with their Super Robot Wars games.
I see it as its fine to pre-order if you know its gonna sell like hot cakes like Jim mentioned but if its something you know is gonna be around for quite awhile then don't bother. In truth I wasn't really bothered with Alien: Isolation as like many others I was cautious after Colonial Marines. Seeing that they're pulling more dlc bullshit I don't think I'll be bothering at all with this game at launch.

Funny, i don't actually think that DLC really need to be in Alien Isolation. It dosent seem to be essential of the story, and it seem to just be a retread of the last act of the original movie. Dosent seem essential to enjoy the game. The annoncement of that DLC did nothing for me to want to preorder that game, me that also is a big Alien fan

LoneWolf83:
On topic: I don't pre-ordering a game. I don't even understand buying a game at launch. Why do people feel they need to get it right away? Why can't you people wait a few months or at least a week? Why do you have to have it now?

Well, I wasn't all that hyped about The Last of Us and didn't actively seek information about it, but before I bought it from sale about 5-6 months after its release I had already been spoiled about the prologue and some other key parts of the story - one of which was from GameTrailers' GT Countdown or some other official gaming video about other games than just TLoU. (Too soon, GT, and no any kind of heads up! -warning...)

The situation is that good in the states with games?

I've been wondering about using the Eshop more, but I live in the third or fourth bigest city in Finland, and our gamestop only gets 5 copys per game, Nintendogames mind me, unless I pre-order it it will be damn difficult to get my hadns on it.

There are only one or two other stores that sell videogames (one which is closing) and they gett games in like 3 months after released since they're actually electronic stores.

So over here pre-order is a pretty big thing unless you use the internet and its services.

Ah yes, I stopped pre-ordering after Skyrim came as an unplayable mess, and Twisted Metal's fundamentally broken skirmish AI with tacked on singleplayer campaign.

I pre-ordered Destiny, but I played that for 2 weeks already to decide.

This seems like an odd example to make a decisive stand over though. Its not pre-order exclusive (even in the not-really, we'll release it in a few months sense most of it is), being put out as DLC ontop. And its very obviously not part of the main story, its definitely bonus content. It seems more like letting one store sell the Ultimate/GotY/Complete/Legend edition at cut rate then anything.

I've never been a big fan of pre-orders. The last time I recall doing it was for Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls expansion, and that's specifically because I wanted the glowy wings cosmetic perk to run around with. I was fairly confident the quality of the game was going to be on par with D3, so I wasn't too worried about getting scammed.

Aside from that though, meh, don't really care to play a game on release date that badly anymore. I've been playing video games for...god...31 years basically. The shine of the new release has long since worn away. xD

Sanunes:

Elyxard:
Anytime a seemingly important piece of content is partitioned off for pre-order or day one DLC content, I realize how little the developers care about the cohesion or completeness of their own narrative.

EA, of course, is the worst offender with this. How can you sell a fantasy RPG with entire characters as partitioned off content? We saw it happen to Dragon Age and Mass Effect where they started designing party members that were meaningless to the overall plot due to the way they designed "content" to be dropped in and out at will. These practices hurt videogames more than people realize.

I disagree that EA is the worst offender, for I do believe if those characters weren't included as DLC we would never get them at all

Unfortunately we know that to be incorrect....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRRpGlmtws8

Jim, I get that you want to point out the problems and such, but you look rather foolish to call shit on someone without offering a solution. I'm sure that you have one, so why not share it?

I've preordered a total of one game. It was Arkham City, and even then it was only because HMV were giving out an Arkham t-shirt and the first issue of the accompanying graphic novel free if you did so.

But preordering for a chunk of in-game content? That's something I can't get behind, especially since us non-US gamers won't have a chance of getting exclusive Gamestop content in the first place.

Hutzpah Chicken:
Jim, I get that you want to point out the problems and such, but you look rather foolish to call shit on someone without offering a solution. I'm sure that you have one, so why not share it?

He did. And he offered it to you. It's: "don't fucking pre-order games."

P.S.: it's really nice how so many people here offer excuses for why they pre-ordered a game and how it was alright when they did it that one time.........

Hey, people, we all vomited on our own shoes at some point in our life.
It's fine.
As long as you learn from it and stop being a weak pussy after you learned your lesson.

You know who did the Pre-Order thing right? Fable 3. All you got was a nifty sword that was only good for evil characters, or at least was meant for them. It wasn't even a particularly strong sword. It just looked cool.

What that is, is nothing more than a nice little bonus for those who bought the game new. THAT is what all Pre-Order DLC should be. A nice little bonus you can live without, but is still nice to have around.

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