Sort of a tangent, and I wholly admit to speaking out of ignorance here, but…what’s so bad about pre-ordering? Like I get how it’s essentially an interest-free loan that leaves the consumer relatively vulnerable, and I get how that in itself sounds like a pretty damning answer to my own question. But when a publisher offers extra skins or early access in exchange for upfront cash that you were going to spend anyway and a (relative) guarantee that you’ll receive the game on time? Especially if it’s a game I’m excited for (I have pre-ordered Destiny 2, for instance), pre-ordering allows me to feel engaged and invested in a game as I wait for its eventual release, and that itself is valuable to me.
I also understand that, for many people without a lot of spending cash, it’s a tough ask to spend upfront money on a game that may turn out to be bad. And for those people, they should absolutely arrive at the question “should I pre-order?” on their own terms. But for me, I don’t see much virtue in waiting for a review. I like to experience a game before reviews have had a chance to inform and drive the discussions, and pre-ordering helps me achieve that. (Side note: when I had way less money to spend on games, pre-ordering helped me budget for games properly, allowing me to drop $5, $10/paycheck to ensure I could afford a certain game, but again that’s a personal thing).
What I don’t get is the fervor behind people who insist that you should never pre-order, the kind of fervor hinted at in this article, as if should be the fault of those who pre-order that games sometimes ship broken/buggy/bad, which I don’t think is fair. I won’t pretend like I understand precisely how publishers/businesses work, but I highly doubt that offering pre-orders on games is an intentional scam perpetuated by publishers to push purposefully broken games. I want to believe that most people who work on/distribute games are doing their honest best to deliver a great product, while also maximizing profit, and the assumption that companies like EA/Ubisoft are attempting to scam people who buy games leads to a certain level of toxicity that turns me away from most gaming communities.
TL;DR - I don’t think pre-ordering is that big a deal, and everybody should arrive at that decision respective to their situation and not be shamed for it either way.