Opinion: Pre-order? Why bother?

Is it really any surprise gamers are becoming more reluctant to pre-order?

Over the past 12 months, there have been several examples of games that just didn’t live up to their expectations; games that launched full of bugs, and online games that couldn’t actually connect online.

We can recall at least four games released in October that had their prices cleaved in half less than a month later.

Day one customers are almost treated as testers these days, used to iron out the bugs – except they have to pay over the odds for the privilege.

Is this really worth that extra piece of DLC or that shiny limited edition case?

Pre-order data has become crucial to the games market. It helps publishers manage stock levels, predict results and ensure they have the online infrastructure to cope with the number of people that want to play their game. In a market devoid of accurate data, pre-order figures have become the best way of predicting how well a game will do.

Yet the real concern in the data we’ve obtained from GameTrack is that the top reason gamers are pre-ordering fewer games is because they’re spending their money on other ‘non-gaming’ products.

In other words, gamers are not excited enough to pre-order.

This might sound a little hollow in the wake of reveals for the likes of Guitar Hero, Call of Duty, LEGO Dimensions and Star Wars Battlefront, but where are those big game announcements we were promised? With Uncharted, Zelda and Quantum Break already pushed out of Christmas, is this year going to be another wash out?

Whenever MCV asks these questions on social media, we receive a barrage of commentators naming unproven indie games such as No Man’s Sky, Rime, Below, The Witness and Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture. I am personally excited by all these games, but they’re hardly going to get gamers queuing around the block upon release.

E3 might hold some of the answers. Xbox is stirring up excitement about its event, while Sony, Nintendo, EA and Ubisoft are preparing their usual June showcases. (Plus, Bethesda has a press conference for the first time, too.)

So perhaps we’re worrying too early. But in a week that has seen movies like Avengers, Star Wars, Batman vs Superman and Jurassic World steal the headlines, I can’t help but feel video games is being left behind during what has been a muted first half of 2015.

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