Happy New Year, everyone! It was a wild year in games back in 2015, and 2016 is looking to be another full to bursting year of great games. With new games comes the natural excitement that any of us feel to get our hands on them. The temptation takes hold to put your money down early, guaranteeing yourself ownership on the first day of release. Here at GamerKulture however, we have a saying, and it’s one you might have heard us use if you listen to the podcast: #nopreorders.

Pre-ordering games is a trend that has taken a tight hold in recent years, such that most triple A titles offer some sort of benefit for pre-ordering their game, be it extra in game content or physical rewards like art books, soundtracks, or figurines. While these extra rewards are worth it to many, do not be fooled with the allure of gimmicks.

First, and foremost, pre-orders are just a marketing scheme.

Pre-orders are usually fueled through hype, a dangerous tool in its own right. Generating hype for your game puts the roots of desire in the minds of consumers, like yourself, and by then offering further rewards for the early purchase, you snap the trap closed.

This is blind loyalty, and for even the most die hard fan, it’s dangerous.

Take the glaring example of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5, which we covered last year. Early

Are YOU gonna argue with him?

orders were rewarded with an exclusive skateboard design in game, and, naturally, the guarantee to be able to play day one. Upon release, the game was a buggy mess that did not even contain the full game, requiring a patch to download the rest of it. Batman Arkham Knight was another mess, being so buggy and un-optimized that the game was pulled, ‘fixed’, and still did not work as well for many people.

IF you still desire to pre-purchase games, be sure to look for warning signs. Hold off on buying until the month or so before release, when many major reviewers are getting review copies. If you aren’t hearing anything, such as with THPS, it’s a red flag. Not releasing early review copies usually means the studio isn’t happy with the product, but doesn’t want negative press to hurt day one sales. If this is the case, wait to buy until after you’ve found some review material.

Secondly, inflated scores. While i’m not a fan of numerical scores (I find them too subjective), it’s the norm for many outlets. With higher profile games, you might see numbers like 9/10, or even 10/10! Be HIGHLY suspicious of ‘perfect’ scores. No game is perfect. Nearly all major reviewer outlets gave the game at least a 9, with IGN giving it a 9.5. If you’ve played the game, you know that it was actually fairly buggy, with graphical glitches and bugs with AI. It also gave us a world with much to do, but nothing with a good deal of depth. Not damning problems by any means, but not at all worthy of near perfect scores. Look instead for the middle of the road reviews. Those that praise the good and critique the bad. Many large reviewers are given incentives from publishers for giving positive words, because negative reviews can sometimes lead to lack of review copies in the future. So be wary.

All in all, if you truly want to grab up those rewards, go for it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting that extra loot. Be smart and educated in your purchasing though, and don’t be just another fish swimming towards that baited hook.

Thanks everyone, stay Kultured!