Pre-orders are on a sharp decline

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preorders

Pre-orders. They’re what the marketing side of gaming uses to measure how well a game is going to do. They feed off of them, like some sort of gaming succubus or siren – tempting gamers with incentives, to coax them out of their money before games are even available. The gaming industry lives on pre-orders. Pity then that consumers seem to be wising up. It seems that pre-order numbers are dropping.

In the UK, it looks like the number of people who pre-order has dropped dramatically.

According to MCV UK, “20 per cent of UK gamers say they are either pre-ordering fewer titles, or have stopped pre-ordering altogether.”

That’s significant, as the UK has traditionally been the territory with the highest number of pre-orders in Europe. It’s not just the UK though; according to the same site, “For UK, France, Germany and Spain combined, 12 per cent of gamers (10.3m) have either stopped or reduced the number of titles they have pre-ordered.”

The reasons cited include consumers wanting to spend money on other goods, and people waiting for prices to come down. And honestly, it’s about time. Unless you know there are logistical issues, or genuine limited editions, there’s no good reason to pre-order games unless you appreciate the dangling carrot that publishers perpetually wave – but that practice just breeds more of it. More content gets locked out, available only to those who pre-order. More DLC. More season passes.

Gamers have probably also had their fill of games that launch broken – the number of games that have launched in near unplayable states this generation is frankly appalling, and it’s a situation that’s only made worse by the myriad, multi-gigabyte patches that flood through post-release. Is it really worth playing a broken game for that extra suit of armour, or a shiny metal case?

There are likely other reasons too – like PlayStation Plus and Xbox’s Games for Gold. Why pre-order the latest games, when they’ll eventually be given for “free”? Steam’s perpetual sales have also fostered a class of gamer who prefers to wait.

Yes, there will always be people who need to be part of the zeitgeist, who need to play a game on or around release date – but you don’t need to pre-order to do that. Wait to see if a game really is good before spending your hard earned money.

Last Updated: April 23, 2015

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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