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Is Pre-Ordering Games A Good Idea? - Steam Punks

The decision to pre-order or not to pre-order plagues gamers torn between bonuses, discounts, and losing the gamble. We talk about the times it's been worth buying early and the times it really, really wasn't.

In this week’s episode of Steam Punks, GameSpot’s PC-focussed show, we tackle whether or not you should be pre-ordering games. We explain when we’ve done it in the past, whether we’ll do it going forward, and what games we’ve been burned by (I’m looking at you, Watch Dogs).

Pre-ordering and incentives to pre-order, like in-game bonuses, have become extremely common, but they've also become extremely controversial. The idea of pre-ordering becomes problematic when the marketing for certain games don’t line up with the finished product, something which has spurred a sect of gamers to participate in a pre-order boycott. In the wake of the biggest game release season of the year, we talk about whether it’s ultimately worth purchasing games before knowing if they’re worth the money.

Pre-orders originated from a time when brick-and-mortar retail stores would only have so many copies of each game, so it was important to get your pre-order in to ensure you would get one of those copies. That time is well and truly gone and now pre-ordering is based around publishers attempting to entice gamers into committing their dollars early with a variety of bonuses only available to those who purchase the game before release. Sometimes those bonuses are very worthwhile and sometimes they’re meaningless. A fairly new kind of pre-order bonus is access to pre-release betas, such is the case with Fallout 76. This presents yet another difficult player-unfriendly stepping stone as gamers want to get a sense for the game through the beta but are unable to unless they commit to a purchase.

Games like No Man’s Sky, Mass Effect: Andromeda, and Watch Dogs contributed to the disappointment around placing pre-orders for games that ultimately ended up falling short of expectations. On the other hand, we discuss many cases where we were glad we placed pre-orders or supported Kickstarters, and discover that there appears to be a connection between having pre-existing faith in the developer or series and feeling confident in pre-ordering.

What do you think of pre-orders? Do you support the boycott, or do you enjoy the bonuses or discounts that come with purchasing early? Let us know what pre-orders you’ve been burned by and what PC topics you’d like to see us discuss on the show next week!

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Steam Punks