Thought of the Day: Gaming, 28 Apr 12

I was discussing preorders with a friend recently in my comments, and I decided to respond at length. He said to me, "It costs the same to pre-order as it does to buy the game at launch without a pre-order."

No, it doesn't cost the same because you are giving a company money prior to receiving the good or service that your money purchased. That is called a loan. In the case of this loan, you are not charging GameStop or EA or whoever any interest. That is called getting ripped off. If you are a shrewd business, you can convince a horde of suckers to give you money, interest-free, for something you have not yet given them. This used to be called lay-a-way, and it was one method that companies used to prey on the poor. Now game publishers are doing basically the same thing, except they're preying on...gamers who don't have their thinking cap on. (I had used a nastier word.)

I'm not really sure why people get suckered into this sort of thing. Tell me, would you go for this deal: Your local grocery says to you, "We've noticed you normally buy $200 of food per month. Tell you what, pay $50 in advance on next month?s food. Next month, you can pay the remaining $150 and get your items. We won't give you any sort of discount, nor will your food be any different than anyone else who pays for what they get at the moment, nor does giving us that $50 in advance actually guarantee there will be food here if there's some sort of crisis." So who would go for that deal? (If anyone said yes, then tell me, and I'm going to get out of private security and become a grocer.) No sane person would, but for some reason, that line seems to work on gamers.

If I don't address this, someone will in my comments. Somebody reading this is thinking, "But when you pre-order, you get special in-game items." Let's revisit our grocery scenario. It's exactly the same, except they add, "Give us that $50 in advance, and when you come get your groceries, we'll give you a free stick of gum." Yay. The pre-order extras are almost always trinkets of insignificant value. I think my comparison may be too generous there. A stick of gum is worth ten cents or so, versus $200 in groceries. The Golden Lancer is worth basically nothing, versus the $70 Gears 2 Limited Edition cost.

The fact that publishers don't offer a discount to preorders is insulting. Why is there no discount? They are taking your money for a service they have not yet provided. They should give you something in return. (And no, a worthless trinket to one of their other games doesn't count.) Tell me, if I preorder a game, and then the release date of that game gets pushed back, do I get to charge GameStop or EA or whoever a late fee? Why not? That's the way it works when a business gives me a loan and then I'm late repaying. The next time a GameStop employee asks if I want to preorder Next Big Shooter III, I'm going to respond, "Would you like to give me a ten dollars bill for the games I'm probably going to bring in here to trade in three months?"

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Posted by Palantas

I was discussing preorders with a friend recently in my comments, and I decided to respond at length. He said to me, "It costs the same to pre-order as it does to buy the game at launch without a pre-order."

No, it doesn't cost the same because you are giving a company money prior to receiving the good or service that your money purchased. That is called a loan. In the case of this loan, you are not charging GameStop or EA or whoever any interest. That is called getting ripped off. If you are a shrewd business, you can convince a horde of suckers to give you money, interest-free, for something you have not yet given them. This used to be called lay-a-way, and it was one method that companies used to prey on the poor. Now game publishers are doing basically the same thing, except they're preying on...gamers who don't have their thinking cap on. (I had used a nastier word.)

I'm not really sure why people get suckered into this sort of thing. Tell me, would you go for this deal: Your local grocery says to you, "We've noticed you normally buy $200 of food per month. Tell you what, pay $50 in advance on next month?s food. Next month, you can pay the remaining $150 and get your items. We won't give you any sort of discount, nor will your food be any different than anyone else who pays for what they get at the moment, nor does giving us that $50 in advance actually guarantee there will be food here if there's some sort of crisis." So who would go for that deal? (If anyone said yes, then tell me, and I'm going to get out of private security and become a grocer.) No sane person would, but for some reason, that line seems to work on gamers.

If I don't address this, someone will in my comments. Somebody reading this is thinking, "But when you pre-order, you get special in-game items." Let's revisit our grocery scenario. It's exactly the same, except they add, "Give us that $50 in advance, and when you come get your groceries, we'll give you a free stick of gum." Yay. The pre-order extras are almost always trinkets of insignificant value. I think my comparison may be too generous there. A stick of gum is worth ten cents or so, versus $200 in groceries. The Golden Lancer is worth basically nothing, versus the $70 Gears 2 Limited Edition cost.

The fact that publishers don't offer a discount to preorders is insulting. Why is there no discount? They are taking your money for a service they have not yet provided. They should give you something in return. (And no, a worthless trinket to one of their other games doesn't count.) Tell me, if I preorder a game, and then the release date of that game gets pushed back, do I get to charge GameStop or EA or whoever a late fee? Why not? That's the way it works when a business gives me a loan and then I'm late repaying. The next time a GameStop employee asks if I want to preorder Next Big Shooter III, I'm going to respond, "Would you like to give me a ten dollars bill for the games I'm probably going to bring in here to trade in three months?"