If you have any experience with video gaming at all, there’s a good chance that you’re aware of pre-ordering and pre-order bonuses. These two things loosely describe the practice of buying a product before its release date and being rewarded in some way for doing so. In the gaming industry, pre-order sales usually come with virtual gifts like in-game costumes, as well as more tangible things, like clothing.
The audience for games has long been split over the benefits of pre-ordering, largely due to the fact that AAA titles are sometimes released in a poor, even unplayable, state. Examples include Callisto Protocol, No Man’s Sky, Cyberpunk 2077, SimCity (2013), Final Fantasy XIV (2010), Assassin’s Creed Unity – the list goes on. In essence, when pre-ordering, consumers end up buying a promise rather than a product.
Due to the expanding number of titles that fall into the ‘broken at launch’ category, the idea of avoiding pre-orders altogether has become a bit of a mantra among the gaming community. It’s easy to see why. Coupled with the risk of buying another dud is the fact that pre-orders seemingly have no real use in a modern commercial environment. They’re the remnants of an earlier time.
Back in the era of physical discs and cartridges, pre-orders were a way for players to ensure the availability of a game on release day. They were also useful for gauging the number of items that needed to be ordered from the supplier. Today, though, the concept of a sold-out video game doesn’t exist anymore, largely due to the fact that almost all new titles are delivered via digital means.
The problem for gamers is that pre-orders do serve a purpose for publishers and developers. As in many other areas of commerce, treats and incentives boost customer activity – even if it’s something simple, like two-for-one on groceries. Of course, companies that can easily provide some kind of digital reward with a purchase have the advantage here, such as a bookstore that bundles free e-books with physical hardbacks.
Alongside video gaming, welcome bonuses are also common on casino websites, which give out free turns on slot machines, no-deposit offers, and even free coins to play with. This practice is common regardless of a casino’s geographical location, suggesting that it’s not bound by cultural trends or gameplay preferences. You can visit this site to learn all you need to know about this practice in Japan.
Despite the growth in the number of pre-order campaigns happening at any one time, they may actually be underused by developers. Game monetisation company Xsolla describes pre-order sales as a “critical” part of any developer’s marketing campaigns yet one that’s still overlooked by indie creators in particular. Around 20-30% of first-year sales come from people who pre-order. In fact, well-hyped games such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Grand Theft Auto V turned a profit before launch day.
Unfortunately, there’s no position where gamers and creators come together on the topic of pre-ordering – and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. While it’s easy to view the chance to buy action figures, cloth maps, and art books along with a game as a good thing for consumers, it’s still sometimes considered a way to nickel-and-dime devoted fans, just like ads and micro-transactions do in full games.
Inevitably, some of the fans’ disdain comes from badly-run pre-order campaigns, like Sonic Lost World, which gave the player 25 in-game lives. Then, there’s pirate romp Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, which came with an American football (of all things), and the remote-controlled tank that was bundled with Gears of War 2. Quite unlike a normal tank, it couldn’t turn or drive on carpet.
Overall, pre-ordering and pre-order bonuses occupy an awkward position in gaming, as a necessity for developers yet a frequent burden for players.