Pressure to Buy Now

We’ve been bothered by the increasing number of games pressuring the consumer to buy right away.  In the past we would want to buy a game right away because we’re excited to play.  Now we want to buy a game right away because if we don’t we miss out; In a way, we get punished.

Prototype 2, something we really want to play, but feel perfectly fine picking up a few months after launch, has a “Radnet” edition that awards pre-order early adopters.  It adds a #$!%-list load of content.  Comes with a Radnet access code (7 weeks digital content or access to them that you have to buy — unclear), 55 exclusive in-game events, 55 unique pieces of digital content, etc.

Darksiders 2 Limited Edition.  If we don’t pre-order, do we not get the “limited edition”?  It comes with exclusive side-quests.

Battlefield 3 offered a limited edition (Karkand DLC) for no additional cost to customers locked in at a full price pre-order.

Putting on the pre-order pressure is becoming the norm.

This is why it’s hard to wait to get games until Christmas or Birthdays because they force you to get it early or end up paying more for it later via DLC or even miss content entirely.

We understand the concept of rewarding first movers, and we recognize the reasons for minimizing used game sales.  If those are their reasons, why not just include a one time activation code inside the box?  If it’s simply a marketing strategy to secure sales, this pressure to buy is starting to cross the line to the point of driving consumers away.  The average gamer can’t afford to buy every game on its launch date, and they don’t have the time to play every new release.  Punishing them for that sucks.


  • Truly bad move on the behalf of the seller, since it also punishes people who are not well informed on every game, or the general market. Which in turn will put even more pressure on the pre-sales hype machine.

  • I understand the dilemma they face which is that the games industry suffers the movie industry paradigm of “opening weekend sales are everything”. So for them they want to ensure those first day sales are maxed out.
    You can bet some staff bonuses are based on those (as well as being based on Metacritic reviews it seems).

    I think they crossed the line quite a while back and I now just don’t even look at the early adopter bonuses and special editions most of the time.

  • Don’t forget Guild Wars 2 pre-purchase program. Have to pay in-full right now if you want to get in the beta weekends and the 3 day head start. I agree it’s very worrisome, and it actually drove me from the game and back into WoW…which pisses me off more than anything.

  • Thing about Battlefield 3 (at least locally, and I do admit being around a smaller city) is that we could still get the Limited Edition (with Karkland) for a few months after the release.

  • It is a pretty sad state of affairs for consumers, overall.

    Clearly, the idea is for there to be “Limited Editions” that are priced at a premium on launch day so that the developer isn’t leaving cash on the table from the diehard Day 1 fans (who would have paid $100 instead of merely $60). Back in the day, those special boxes would have maps, posters, figurines, and other physical bonuses. Nowadays, it’s in-game items or DLC, both of which arguably only exists to be Limited Edition bonuses; as in, they were most likely pulled from the default content and put behind a paywall. It’s win-win for the developers, who now have an cheap incentive to get X% more profit from the same amount of work (those items/maps/etc were going to exist anyway), plus it discourages used game sales (or recoups some costs via online passes).

    Luckily, we have Steam/Amazon/Dealzon/etc. As long as you don’t get swept up in the marketing hype machines, you can simply wait until everything is $20 cheaper, even if you have to buy the DLC later.

  • Yes the increase in pre-order or else type deals in recent years is kind of scary. Give us cash now or pay double for DLC. 😉

  • @Azuriel: The problem is even worse than that, though. Some of these limited editions offer this content ONLY if you pre-order (or buy in the initial production wave) leaving no way to ever get that content if you wait — not even in DLC.

  • Probably, need to show a sizeable preorder so they can borrow or get more investment to finish the game in a lot of cases.

    I have a feeling GW2 is done so they get a good idea of how much infrastructure they need to put in place.

  • Don’t be surprised if they stealth in similar items later as DLC. Prior to launch they say only with pre-purchase can you get into the VIP lounge and use the special vendor. Post launch they say, well you can get into the VIP lounge if you do this, but although you can’t use that specific vendor we happen to have another unique vendor you can purchase.

    The greed that led them to offer pre-purchase perks, will not have abated post-launch. Similar perks will likely become available later on.

  • Few things;

    1. 1 time use activation code for preorder exclusive content doesn’t make it exclusive anymore.

    2. Know your budget, be smart with your purchases. “the average gamer” is a pretty broad statement. Said average gamer probably isn’t a hardcore gamer thus would not purchase that many games on their launch dates anyways.

    3. Preordering games is a marketing strategy and a very good one that does secure buyers, this is why it has been going on for decades. I still remember preordering Tekken 3 and getting a shirt, yes I was damn happy I got that shirt and both parties won.

    4. Exclusive preorder bonus, key word “exclusive”. This means if you get it later it’s your own fault for missing out on it due to its exclusiveness.

    Sorry if I come off harsh but I don’t see an argument here. You’re either going to like a game enough to buy it when it comes out and get free stuff and help the company that made the game. Or you’re going to wait and buy it later and not get free stuff. Free stuff that is considered a “gift” to the consumer for preordering their product.

    I think it comes down to people’s perspective on said exclusive content. You can either look at it how I do “a gift from the company to me for supporting them”. Or you can look at it like “the company had time to make this content, why should I have to jump through hoops to get it, it should come with the game”.

    I think that’s the real argument if any. Personally the only thing I don’t like that’s currently happening is DLC on day one and DLC that’s already on the disc that you can only get from buying it on the marketplace, like Street Fighter X Tekken’s. Both of those are just ways of sucking more than $60 out of your pocket on release day and are pretty shady.

  • Probably will pre-order GW2. I don’t really see the problem, it’s a standard purchasing decision, if you like what’s on offer, buy it, otherwise don’t. I don’t think that Arenanet are pulling the wool over our eyes at least that wasn’t their business model with GW1, but:

    People seem to expect Arenanet to act as some sort of MMO charity, which would hardly make good business sense and also MMO fans should appreciate that the prepurchase model somewhat mitigates the very high development costs of MMOs and the long gap between inception and profitability. That’s good for MMO developers and so good for the future of MMOs.

  • Preordering is ok but Prepurchasing like with GW2 is actually illegal in several countries. I am not sure how they are getting around it in Australia.

  • @Don – Good point on the server infrastructure. Pre-orders would be a good way to judge the potential server load.

    Another idea I have is that they are trying to get a substantial amount of potential players now so that they can test high server loads and prevent any major lag on launch.

    @The Merovingian – Thanks for the heads up. Totally lost track of time. I will be pre-ordering either tomorrow or Wednesday. I’m thinking Wednesday instead so that I can give them time to work out any potential pre-order bugs.

  • Articles like this one is a major reason I visit this site more and more.Another great piece.

  • I’m not pre-ordering GW2 because it’s a pre-purchase meaning they take my money long before the game is really ready.
    Also it’s currently overpriced in the UK so waiting for Amazon to do their thing: oddly they don’t seem to know that they are one of the 5 UK “Retail Partners” yet…

  • I’m very torn about the GW2 pre-purchase. I want in the beta’s to try the game, but I feel like I am stupid to pre-purchase a game with a NDA. I’ll probably go for it. Worst case scenario I lose $60, but at least there won’t be a subscription.

  • I may also go for it, unlike my usual habit to wait to try before I buy, simply because the game is “free to play”. I’m pretty sure I’ll get my 50+ euros worth from that game even if I end not playing it for years, just like for SW:TOR, with the added benefit that I can always come back whenever I want to do some WvW PvP, since there’s no monthly fee required.
    Even without the beta, from all the videos and info provided so far, I don’t see how GW2 could fail so badly that I don’t want to play it at least a couple of months – and that will be enough to compensate for my investment.

  • Remember the good old days just a few years back when pre-ordering maybe got you into beta and possibly a three day head start (if MMO) as well as some small exclusive item that wasn’t game breaking?

    These days you almost are required to preorder if you want to be sure you have full access to all the quest, even then a if you don’t get the collectors or limited editions you might miss out.

    And now we are seeing ArenaNet going with the Pre-Purchase deal for GW2. It will not be long before you no longer can just pre-order but will have to pre-purchase.

    I shudder to think where everything is heading over the next few years and pretty soon I may drop video gaming all together. In the good old days you owned a game or console and you could play it for ever. These days you buy a game knowing that one day you are going to get screwed and no longer able to play a game when online support is dropped and so forth.

    If the industry wants to put a end to pirating and game resales punishing the paying consumer is a bad way to go. That is another reason I am buying more and more Indie games these days.

  • $60 for a game and then you are looking at sometimes another $60 or more for DLC over the course of the games lifespan. And a lot of companies still want to call DLC microtransactions when sometimes the DLC cost 1/2 the price of the game but provides only a fraction of the content.

    Look at Kingdoms of Amalur, already one DLC out and another one coming out very soon. These days DLC = patches in a lot of cases. Patches that we are paying for. At least there are some companies out there like CDProject that provide DLC level patches for free.

  • @Neuronomad – So by your calculations, expect to spend about $120 on GW2 including micro transactions or DLC (in the first 6 months, year, or lifespan?). I don’t see that as a bad amount of money to spend on GW2.

    Have you played a subscription MMO before? How much money did you spend on it? I played DAOC for a year. With at least $40 spent on the software itself, and then about $10 a month, I spent roughly $160 on DAOC. Had the population not severely declined on the classic servers, I would have gladly stayed longer and spent more money.

    My point is, is a one time cost of $60 + DLC + micro-transaction estimate of another $60 really so horrible when compared to a subscription mmo?

  • I think it’s just another side effect of games development maturing into a fully fledged business.

    The primary concern of any company is profit.. Everything they do is beholden to that core concept. Profits must be made.

    So they offer services for money. They’ve figured out that there are those who are willing to pay for special bonuses, so they’re going to sell to them.

    Do they care about the impact this has on the remainder of the player base? At this point, not really. Not until there is a clear impact demonstrated to the return on investment.

    Gamers unfortunately tend to be some of the most vocal, yet fickle customer groups of any demographic. You’ll have people screaming in the forums for months, only to show up on launch day to pay up along with everyone else.

    The only control any consumer really has is not to buy a product or service. Because money is all a corporation really gives a damn about. Look at EA.

  • Meh, just wait a couple years and buy it on Steam for $5 and get all the DLC to boot.

  • Of course I am going to pre-purchase GW2 tomorrow! Everything I have seen about it looks fantastic. With SWTOR I had doubts they could pull off the MMORPG monthly sub angle, but here I feel certain I will like it and for the same price I am buying the whole game without a sub. Why wouldn’t anyone buy it if they are interested in this genre unless they don’t want the beta experience to spoil the launch newness feeling. I am glad to support the effort to establish a new subscription-less standard if only to see if it can work.

  • I actually gave in to the dark side and bought the GW2 Digital Deluxe version… the “guild” item (Tome of Influence) will most likely be useful for my guild too. I wouldn’t have done this if GW2 was “pay to play”.
    I hope this won’t be an “Age of Conan”, “Warhammer” or “Rift” like deception.

  • I support the things that i like and forsake all others. I have pre-purchased my GW2 account allready and i feel GREAT! The waiting is the hardest part. Thank you Tom Petty.