By Joe Strange
Yesterday James wrote a great piece describing his views and experiences with pre-ordering games, and being that his article gave me quite a lot to think about, I thought I’d weigh in too, and just give my own opinion in our first RE: dialogue feature. For those of you who haven’t read James original piece, here’s a handy little link, go read this now and pop back over here because I’m going to be bouncing off of James’ points quite a bit.
Unlike James, I tend to pre-order games fairly regularly. At least, I do a lot more now that I don’t have to abide by a University study schedule or the financial restraints of not actually having a job, but saying that I do so for the pre-order bonuses and the like wouldn’t be completely accurate.
I pre-order games for the same reason that I watch certain films on the day of release, it’s not impatience, it’s the feeling of being part of a collective experiencing things for the first time. One of the reasons I love the cinema so much is because you rarely get a chance to experience something so specific with a large group of people at the same time.
A few years ago I watched Back to the Future, one of my favourite films of all time, in a one off screening at a local cinema, and getting caught up in the excitement of experiencing it all again, except this time with 200 people was awesome.
The same goes for release day showings of films with large followings, the Marvel films, the Hunger Games and that sort of experience. Seeing Xmen First Class on the opening night was an experience far greater than the film itself, because we were in a group of people who all loved the franchise, and were excited to see where it was going.
But I digress, I mean, what does my cinema habits have to do with my pre-ordering rule? Quite a bit, as it happens. It’s all about how we take in media. By not buying a game on the first day, something that’s much easier to do with pre-orders, you’re immediately excluded from the initial conversation, all you have to go on is what you’ve heard from critics, friends and the general populace, and as video game writers we’re required to keep in the loop, something that’s a lot harder to do without playing the subject of the conversation.
When Halo 4 was released, I had it pre-ordered and as such got to enjoy the thrill of a full multiplayer server and a group of friends experiencing the game at the same time as I was, and that was just a boatload of fun.
The new generation of consoles also pose a new reason to pre-order, that isn’t the bonuses that James discussed, and laying my cards on the table, I’m not a fan of these exclusive items and tricks either. With many of the games aimed for release being multiplayer based or at least featuring multiplayer in a much larger way than the previous generation, not being a part of the initial surge could potentially devoid you from a key part of the game.
Saying that, it’s fairly clear that many of these games are big AAA features that won’t see a drop in users any time soon, but there’s a chance that Destiny could suck absolute balls I suppose.
The price drop that James references is also a real point to consider. Games aren’t cheap, that much is painfully obvious, and being able to shave a bit off of a big game is actually very helpful, and something that I’m no stranger too either; only earlier this year I bought a copy of Skyrim, because I never actually owned it. I also waited a good long time for both Assassins Creed Black Flag and Far Cry 3, so what’s the deal with my contradictory practices?
Like most people, I only have a certain number of hours in a day to play games, so to that end I have two ‘playing modes’ the social multiplayer gamer where I’ll get a group together to chat and play, or jump into an online game willy nilly, and the solitary single player, who often comes out at the end of a night shift or on a weekend morning. I think it’s this split in play styles which has created the split in game buying.
With the multiplayer aspect I will more likely be playing a current, up to date game where the people I play with will hopefully be enthused by the relevance of the game, on the other hand I’m not as picky with the single player games, and often use this as a technique to catch up on games I missed, like Skyrim and Far Cry 3. Frankly it’s difficult to decide with style I prefer.
Admittedly, through this article I’ve strayed from the path somewhat, but at the crux of it, pre-ordering can be positive, it allows you to be sure you’ll get to play the game you want to play as soon as you can, a process made much easier by delivery services, but it’s by no means always necessary, and by picking and choosing which games we pre-order, and thinking just a little more about it, we may just be able to reduce the silliness of store specific pre-order bonuses.