We see all sorts of stories on pre-orders for games. Is it a good idea? Are companies holding demos and betas hostage behind pre-order walls? Should people just wait and buy the games after launch? This is not that. Today, we are going to look at the motivations behind pre-orders. Some 2018 incidents offer an interesting look into a factor that might help determine whether or not people put down money for a game.
There are two games where the pre-order situation might be a reflection of what people know about the companies behind the games. These are EA and DICE’s Battlefield V and Insomniac and Sony’s Marvel’s Spider-Man. Both are games you would expect to have a large pre-order presence. They are highly anticipated titles with followings. Yet, there is a reaction here that might not be totally influenced by the hype train and gameplay footage so far. I mean certainly, gameplay footage and advance information are going to heavily impact sales. But maybe, in these cases, the companies behind them have some influence?
Take Battlefield V as an example. It has already been noted that the pre-orders are going slow and are not as robust as people have expected. Part of this could be due to it choosing World War II as its base, something Call of Duty: WWII did last year. Some people are upset over the role women take in the game. But, we also have to take into account EA’s scandals. The company is hurting after Star Wars Battlefront II, a game from EA and DICE that had one of the worst loot box situations in recent history. It got so bad, people revolted and they were removed from the game. Battlefield V has no loot boxes in it as a result. But, perhaps the damage is already done? People remember what these companies have done at launch in other games, and that might be impacting pre-orders this time around.
With Marvel’s Spider-Man, we have a different approach. Insomniac and Sony have both been very open about the game. When we have instances of DLC, the preliminary items are always early unlocks for something you could also earn in the game. We also know Insomniac’s recent games, like Ratchet & Clank, Sunset Overdrive, Song of the Deep, and Fuse all were relatively solid. They had large fanbases and received a lot of support. Meanwhile, Sony has been publishing fantastic hits like God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Shadow of the Colossus, all games that did not try to nickel and dime folks or fail to deliver on promises. This developer and publisher both have stellar track records, and Marvel’s Spider-Man now has strong pre-orders. While the game certainly looks great, maybe it is that solid background that is also resulting in an amazing show of faith.
Of course, there will always be cases that show that demand can overcome even a company’s reputation. Regardless of a company’s track record, some games are always going to get pre-orders. Rockstar Games is one such company. Some people love them, to be sure. Grand Theft Auto V qualifies as a gaming legend by now. But, the company has also been resorting to all sorts of microtransactions and in-game cash purchases with Grand Theft Auto Online. It even ignored GTA V story DLC, in favor of add-ons and updates that could keep the GTA Online cash cow alive. Yet, its reputation isn’t hurting Red Dead Redemption 2 pre-orders. People are too happy the game actually exists to care.
The company behind the game is just another factor to consider before buying a game. Think about the track record of the publisher or developer. How has it treated its customers in the past? What has it done with its current games? Maybe even think about how the employees making the games are treated. All of these factors could be as important to a possible pre-order as knowing you might get access to a special trial or be able to enjoy exclusive DLC.