With E3 upcoming in a few days, something that came to my attention was an aspect of the gaming industry that often provokes much-heated debate in the minds of developers and consumers: the thorny issue of Pre-orders, and to a lesser extent, that of hyping, especially overhyping, a game. I want to give my two cents on the matter, and I hope that I don’t bore you all.
PRE-ORDERS AND HYPE
Before I continue in this article, I would like to make a point. All games and any forms of media produced for consumption by an audience need to be hyped to a certain extent, to allow people to know about them. But there is a major difference between this and showing a demo at E3 or any other event, which appears to have a lot of promise, has amazing graphics, story and everything else (apparently), but on launch is a buggy, unplayable mess. People are angry, write a bad review, bemoan it, and move on for the next game. A very good example of this would be Watch Dogs, which looked amazing at E# in 2013, with what seemed to be next Gen Graphics, and a solid hacking aspect to boot. But we all know what happened when the game released.
This is not the first time. Think of No Man’s Sky. A short demo is shown, appears to be great, and the developers promise the water, sun and the whole solar system. As development goes on, slowly but surely, the Developers reneges on his statement, everyone is angry, and the cycle goes on. This is so normalized that I could continue to mention games like Mafia 3 (though the pressure to meet a certain ideal also comes in there. I’ll touch on this briefly later.)
Pre – Orders are much more visible and highly derided by a section of consumers. The problem with pre-orders in the concept itself; you’re literally throwing money at the developer to make the game easier for you, which makes playing the game rather pointless in the first place. Why buy it you wanna take the easy way out,? That is not the only problem here. This allows developers to ship an unfinished base game (courtesy of Hype), and then add proper content in the form of paid DLC. This is a detriment to gaming culture itself.
Two very good examples of pre-orders would be the micro transitions in Metal Gear Solid v, which basically allowed one to get through the game much faster. Another example is the system in Mortal Combat 10, which had a similar effect. I could go one, but for now, this example will suffice. Now I will briefly discuss how this process works.
The process begins with the fact that we, as Humans, naturally want what we cannot have. Thus long before release, announcements are made to excite the consumer, and essentially, make him hope. Hope is the keyword here because it allows companies to make unrealistic claims, as that is what the consumer wants to believe. Once you have convinced yourself that the game will be good, there is no going back.
Here, pre-orders come in. Pre-orders began as a way for companies to gauge how many supply and demand exists, so they do not over or under produce. This was mainly for die-hard fans. Then it became clear that with more hype, more sales. And here we are.
As I have shown above, this is an anti-consumerist, terrible marketing strategy that causes more harm than good, by dividing and polarizing people, and rewarding laziness and lies. This becomes a vicious cycle, that can cause a lot of damage if uncontained. That is why I ask you: don’t pre-order, don’t hype.