Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Just Say "No" to Pre-orders

With the rise of digital distribution the whole notion of reserving a copy before launch day feels a bit antiquated.  That said, video games publishers still care a great deal about pre-order numbers.  So much so they're more than willing to make "exclusive" offers to entice would-be buyers before a game's release date.  The thing is though pre-ordering has become an increasingly bad idea of late and here's three reasons why:

If you're not familiar with the term "bullshots" by all means look it up.  Sufficed to say gaming companies have demonstrated that they are perfectly willing to use smoke-and-mirrors videos and screenshots to deceive consumers into pre-purchasing a product that isn't up to the quality it claims to be.  And while such business practices are deplorable, it's really up to consumers to bring this kind of exploitation to an end.  It's not that hard either.  Exercising common sense is all that's needed.

Case in point, Aliens: Colonial Marines.  Let me start by asking the question, "has there ever been a good video game adaptation of the Aliens IP?"  The only halfway decent title I can think of in this failed franchise is Aliens vs Predator 2.  Even then it's a crossover series rather than a game set purely in the Aliens universe.  Now, I haven't played every single Aliens game to come out, but my first brush with the xenomorphs in interactive media was Aliens: The Computer Game way back on the Apple IIc followed several years later by the side-scrolling Aliens arcade game.  On consoles I missed out on the Pac-Man copycat Alien for the Atari 2600, but I did play both the SNES and Genesis versions of Alien³ (surprisingly neither of which was a port of the other).  Aside from those games, I've tried out a light gun arcade rail shooter with the rather self explanatory title of Alien 3: The Gun.  Heck, I've even got part way through the obscure PC game Aliens: A Comic Book Adventure.  Plus the Doom total conversion (which was actually very good, but not counted here because it was a free mod and not a licensed product).

So, getting back to my point, why would anyone in their right mind trust that the latest Aliens game is going to be good considering pretty much every single entry up to this point has been varying degrees of dross.  Not to mention the developer this time out is Creative Assembly, a company specializing in notoriously buggy historical strategy games gimped by bad AI.  Worse still the publisher is Sega, which despite making quality games in the past, has a rather tarnished reputation these days, particularly with regards to copyright trolling on Youtube.

Anyway, I've gone on long enough so let me wrap this up by simply saying - as tempting as it might be don't pre-order!  It isn't worth the risk, and any worthwhile bonus content offered will inevitably find its way into some DLC included with the original product (probably as a discounted "Game of the Year Edition" or "Steam sale bundle") less than a year after the release date.  Do you like code optimization, bug fixes and community made mods?  Chances are your not going to get any of them right after launch, which means your definitely not getting the most polished experience possible if you pre-order.  It's kind of like early access except waiting means you pay less instead of more.  Think about that, won't you?

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