The act of pre-ordering a game is simple. You pay money in advance in order to be able to download and install a game the second it’s released. Sometimes you get extra bonuses, like special pre-order only items and cosmetics. Sometimes you get a soundtrack with it. Sometimes you get to install the game earlier than people buying the game on release. And in some cases, you get completely ripped off because the game you pre-ordered turned out to be crap.
I’ll be honest, I hate pre-ordering games. I haven’t pre-ordered many games in my short existence, but most of the ones I have pre-ordered or at least bought in Early Access have been… negative. To say the least. The last games I pre-ordered were Saints Row 4 and a Worms game that came with a free copy of Worms Armageddon. I didn’t like the class system in the Worms game and Saints Row 4 still feels like a glorified DLC to me. I couldn’t even actually play Saints Row 4 properly because the “escape back to reality” mission was broken for me due to frame rate issues. And don’t get me started on the handful of early access games I have bought or was gifted and completely screwed me over.
What we tend to forget is that re-ordering a game is a huge risk. Sure, you’re helping a developer, giving them a boost so they can get the game faster (which is why I would be more lenient on independent developers, they need that cash flow more than big developers) but there are things that can change between the pre-ordering period and release. A game might look good but on release, the game might be awful. Or maybe the game takes a different turn between pre-ordering and release and you end up not liking the game. Or maybe you buy a game and the minimum recommended specs change and you can’t play the game at all. Or maybe, like Star Wars Battlefront, the game ends up being a massive downgrade compared to its much older predecessor.
Sure, you can get refunds, but refunding games is for some reason far harder than getting a refund on most other things.
So I’ve basically vowed to never pre-order again.
Except I broke that rule to pre-order Borderlands 3.
I say that, I haven’t actually pre-ordered it. I just saved a copy at the nearest tech store. I’m buying a physical copy because… I don’t know why, but fingers crossed it means Gearbox get more money and Epic Games get none from my purchase.
You could say that pre-ordering Borderlands 3 isn’t so bad thought. It’s a Borderlands game, how bad could it be? Even if it has day one bugs and patches and all that (which I’ll probably miss because there’s no way I’ll be getting this on the 15th), Borderlands 3 is a pretty safe game to pre-order, right? You can say the same for several other games, big-name games that people have been wanting for years, like Cyberpunk 2077. Surely these are all safe bets, that your earmarked money will be well-spent?
That’s the thing, I don’t know. No one knows. No one has any idea. In fact, NO ONE knows anything until the first reviews come out, given to bigger game reviewers in order to let the rest of us know a game is worth buying. Even with famously large titles like Borderlands 3 and Cyberpunk 2077, no one has any idea what they are getting themselves into until the game is released and we can all play it.
Assuming we can play these games at all. Because there’s rarely a smooth release for any new game…