Why You Shouldn’t Pre-Order Games

Pre-ordering games is quite common in modern gaming culture, but there are many reasons why you shouldn't do so.

In the modern gaming industry, you see all the big titles going up for pre-orders months and even years before their official release. And, it’s not just the bigger names; sometimes, even small games developed by indie developers are up for pre-order months before they come out.

Now, pre-ordering is quite favorable for developers. They’re getting paid before delivering their product. It is definitely not a bad thing considering they’re putting a lot of work into the games. Then, why is pre-ordering considered bad?

The first thing that comes to mind is that there are no more physical copies of the game. That era is over. Now, everywhere you go, you’ll find digital copies of games. The thing with digital copies is that there’s no risk of them ever running out.

Back in the day, you could pre-order a much-awaited title at your local store because you knew that the physical copies would run out as soon as the game’s release, and that made sense. But, with digital copies, there’s no such issue to worry about. A million people could buy a digital copy of a game at once, and it will never run out.

Another issue is that most games on launch are outright terrible. It doesn’t matter if the game has been under development for years. Once it comes out, it’s going to have bugs in it.

Cyberpunk 2077 was full of bugs on launch day, despite heavy advertisement.
Cyberpunk 2077 was full of bugs on launch day, despite heavy advertisement.

However, it is valid that most bugs are usually discovered after players have had their time with the game, but isn’t that the whole point of pre-orders? We’re paying them money before trying out their product, so they can hire testers and work on the game to deliver an excellent finished product.

It’s also important to note that pre-orders aren’t always bad. Pre-ordering can also be an excellent way to support your favorite indie developers or small video game companies. Buying pre-orders for indie games is the best way to show your love and support for the developers.

It is a common scenario where a big video game studio reveals a flashy cinematic trailer of an upcoming game. After watching the trailer, the fans get hyped over the game and instantly pre-order it. Once the game is released, it turns out that the game doesn’t look anything close to the cinematic trailer or everything advertised.

Cyberpunk 2077 is a pretty good example of this. The game was hyped for years. Almost everyone in the world pre-ordered it, including me. But, once it was released, the fans were quite disappointed due to all the bugs. The entirety of the game was underwhelming and basically nothing more than an unmitigated disaster.

One of the several bugs in Cyberpunk 2077 at launch.
One of the several bugs in Cyberpunk 2077 at launch.

Nevertheless, CDPR didn’t give up on it and made it into the awesome game it is today. But, not every gaming studio is CDPR; sometimes, games that are terrible on release stay terrible for years.

Everyone’s heard of Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky. That game was all over the internet with how huge that game was going to be. Fans were expecting to be able to travel to different planets and discover all sorts of new things.

No Man's Sky received backlash over not delivering promised features.
No Man’s Sky received backlash over not delivering promised features.

But, when the game was officially released, the game received a massive backlash. The game didn’t have many features the advertisement promised, leading to many gamers filing for a refund.

However, Hello Games kept improving the game by adding several new features. At this point, No Man’s Sky is overall a decent multiplayer game.

Another example of such a game is Ubisoft’s Assassin Creed: Unity. While the earlier installments of the AC franchise received positive feedback from the fans, Unity was the first game where Ubisoft messed up. The game was rushed and released in a somewhat unfinished state with all sorts of bugs and glitches.

A graphical glitch from Assassin's Creed: Unity after the launch.
A graphical glitch from Assassin’s Creed: Unity after the launch.

AC: Unity was broken to the point that Ubisoft had to apologize publicly by ensuring the fans that they won’t repeat the same mistakes with the release of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.

Like the other games mentioned, Assassin’s Creed: Unity was also fixed later on by Ubisoft through several patches.

The point is that if you have to wait months for the game to become actually playable, what’s the point of pre-ordering it six months before the release?

When pre-ordering a game, they usually offer you artbooks or some in-game items that could give you a head start. But that’s not worth the money, as you get most of those items later in the game anyway.

Even if the reward for pre-ordering is something exclusive, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re buying a game at full price that’s not even half finished yet.

Pre-ordering a game only makes sense if you’re sure you will buy the game anyway. Otherwise, paying full money for a game six months before its official launch just because you saw a cinematic trailer isn’t the smartest thing to do.

Video game studios are pretty good at knowing their audience. They know what everyone wants. And, they’re going to show exactly that to make people pre-order their products, even if it isn’t as good as they advertised.

Some of the time, companies such as Ubisoft announce pre-orders for games. They do so to gauge how interested the audience is in their game.

If the video game company is trusted by its fans and they have complete faith in the company, then pre-ordering the game sounds somewhat justified. For example, if you’re a big fan of FromSoftware, you’d try pre-ordering any of their games. But, in any other case, the best move is to wait.

Wait for the game’s official launch, and see for yourself if the game is what they advertised. If you like it, you can buy it; if you don’t, that saves you money. The whole point of this argument is to not pay money for the thing that hasn’t been delivered yet.

If anyone wants to support any indie developer or a small video game company by pre-ordering their product, then that’s brilliant, and they should totally go for it. But, if you’re pre-ordering a game just because of the hype of it, then that’s not the best thing to do.

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Matt Toledo


Matt is a student from the US. He is an avid gamer and is interested in the intersection of the gaming industry and finance. He is a fan of Halo, Mass Effect and Star Wars

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