Yes. Misleading title, I know. But I had a very hard time figuring out exactly what I wanted to name this post, and when it came down to it, I think you’ll track my thinking by the end. I’m sure I’ll also be pushing some buttons as well.
On August 9th, 2016, No Man’s Sky was released on Playstation 4 with relatively mediocre reviews, ranging in the 6.5/10 range. It seemed for a week like people were enjoying their time in space and exploring unique planets, but then slowly things started to come together and minor details that were once promised were just plain missing. The online gaming community went into a fury when the congregation came together, and Neogaf and Reddit were lit up with missing content in No Man’s Sky that was promised to us and how you can get your money back on a game that “scammed” you.
On June 21st, 2016, Mighty No. 9 was released across numerous consoles with relatively mediocre reviews, ranging in the 5.5/10 range. Unlike No Man’s Sky, though, Mighty No. 9 was getting lit up from the start, with complaints about art style, voices, and certain design choices, and many of the people who Kickstarted the game (As well as Neogaf and Reddit, of course) went on the attack and made sure that Mighty No. 9's reputation would permanently be remembered as “one of the worst games of all time”.
Two of the most highly anticipated games of 2016 turned out to not only be disappointments, but reasons for people to demand refunds for their purchases (Or donation).
This brings me to my main point; Pre-Orders and Kickstarters.
We live in a time where pre-ordering has just become too commonplace, and with sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, we can even feel like we are “investing” in something as we technically pre-order it. Pre-orders are to video games what engagement rings are for marriages. In both cases, you are taking a chance on something that you are honestly not sure how you are going to like it or not, and also before the release date/wedding day, you can technically cancel with little-to-no problems (Well, you might not get the engagement ring back if the break up is bad, but hey! You don’t have to go through a long and loveless marriage and a terrible divorce, right??).
Now here’s where we get to what I consider to be a huge problem in the gaming world. With the releases of both Mighty No. 9 and No Man’s Sky, gamers are trying to get the engagement ring back after already getting married. Did that analogy actually work? If not, oh, well.
As consumers, we have the freedom to spend our money however we want. It’s one of the beauties of consumerism, and it’s a great way to keep the economy pumped and growing. We the consumer are tasked with researching the product, investigating claims, and then taking a chance and deciding to purchase the product. All of this absolutely applies to video games as well. However, because of things like Kickstarter and pre-ordering, gamers seem to have a sense of entitlement in regard to how they should be treated and listened to by developers.
How come we don’t feel the same way after seeing movies or watching TV shows? Sure, video games are much more interactive because we play them, but it is still purely entertainment and not a means of bettering our every day lives. It’s not like you purchased a vacuumm cleaner that claimed to make your life “70% easier every day!” A bold claim, yes? If you purchased this vacuum and it actually made you do more than the average vacuum, you would be pissed, wouldn’t you?
But video games are absolutely different. It is entertainment, and entertainment is purely subjective. As consumers of entertainment products, it is our duty to protest bad products by simply not purchasing them, but here is the problem with pre-ordering and Kickstarting; YOU ARE PURCHASING IT BEFORE KNOWING WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO.
It would be equivalent to giving an engagement ring to and marrying someone you met in Vegas on the same night. You don’t know this person, nor do you have any idea how things are going to work out in the long run. You just took a blind chance, and really, you have no one else to blame but yourself. “But it’s not fair! She told me she had her PhD, she seemed like a brilliant mind, and she loved video games! She seemed perfect, but she lied!”, you might say. Yeah. Lies happen, and life can be very disappointing. But guess what? You are responsible for your life and the crappy things that you decide to invite into it too, and that includes your poor choices in relationships, and yes, your poor video game purchasing decisions.
All too often today, we love to point the blame on anyone but ourselves, but really, we don’t have any to blame but ourselves when it comes to pre-ordering video games.
Why have we gotten to the point that we trust a product 100% months before it is even released? Some people even pre-order video games over a year before it is supposed to release. I’m not saying that we should stop pre-ordering completely, but I think we need to be honest with ourselves, look in the mirror and admit that we have a pre-ordering problem.
If we continue to pre-order games so prematurely, developers might see that as an opportunity to take advantage of popularity and release games prematurely, because guess what? At the end of the day, they are a company trying to make money, and if you are throwing money at them before they give you the goods, then you are no better off than giving an engagement ring to someone you just met. You didn’t make the developers work for your money, because you just gave it to them before they gave you the game they promised, and that is a huge problem that we have run into.
So what I’m trying to say is this; hold onto that engagement ring. Spend some time getting to know the person you are interested in. Ask other people what they think of that person, and check some facts that this person has claimed about themselves, because you know, you don’t want to marry someone who is just lying to you. Then, if you truly believe that it’s worth the investment, go ahead and give that person the engagement ring. But remember, if you decide to get married, that’s on you. Don’t blame your spouse, don’t blame your friends, and don’t blame the lies. Look in the mirror and remember that it was you who made the final decision.
Be wise about your pre-orders, and remember who’s to blame if you make a bad choice.
You’re reading TAY, Kotaku’s community-run blog. TAY is written by and for Kotaku readers like you. We write about games, art, culture and everything in between. Want to write with us? Check out our tutorial here and join in. Or follow us on Twitter @KoTAYku.
Lord Disco is a video game addict and has been playing since the ripe young age of 5-years-old. He is married to an awesome wife, has two fantastic kids (Named Logan Tiberius and JoJo), and currently lives and works in Tokyo, Japan. Not necessarily a writer by trade, but he enjoys sharing his opinions with the world, whether they like it or not. Check him out on Twitter @TheLordDisco.