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MMOWTF - Pre-Order Syndrome

This week in his MMOWTF column, Dan Fortier takes on the subject of pre-orders and whether or not we should be paying for them.

Pre-Order Syndrome

When we were little kids our parents would do their best to keep us from harm. They would yell “Hot!” if you tried to climb the fireplace or make you leave the kitchen if your tried to juggle the carving knives. Some things though can only be learned by experience and I don’t mean levels. Some people have to total their car before they learn to not drive like a manic, while others may require ten stitches before realizing that your bedspread is NOT a good substitute for a parachute. Pre-ordering an MMO may not be as dangerous as anything described above, but it can still be a great way to learn a lesson the hard way. This week the doctor is in and Pre-Orders are prepped and ready for surgery. Nurse! Scalpel and lots of Gauze!

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Paying for a game before you get it is not a new concept. People have been pre-ordering things since cavemen would trade a small pebble to make sure they got the first dibs on the first fire stick before anyone else. Nowadays, pre-ordering an MMO usually involves some kind of gimmick or benefit that the folks who wait to read the reviews don’t get. It’s about as clever as those commercials that play all night long that tell you get a discount if you call in the next 15 minutes. What’s so wrong with paying more to get an edge over others you ask?

Not a damn thing because RMT buyers have been doing for years. The difference here is you’re actually doing a bit a gambling. No matter how awesome a game looks in videos there is still an element of risk involved that the game will A) Turn out like crap B) Get canceled...er...placed on ‘indefinite hold”. This isn’t like Gamestop where I walk in and put down ten bucks to (hopefully) get a game on the first day it is released. Most games require paying full price or more to take part in the pre-order festivities, thus showing your utter devotion. It’s not really about the money because frankly I could care less. The principle behind encouraging people to pay for a game while it’s still in Beta is what really gets me. They might as well change the name to “Please show our investors we don’t completely suck at making games- Order” and chalk it up to truth in advertising.

The l33t counter-argument is of course “lol wtf dewd...u no if its good wen u play the beta. U r so cheep roflcopter!!!1" If this is what you were thinking then I applaud you. While it is true that most of the smart folks in beta (open or otherwise) would have a pretty good idea if the game is worth it, not all games who take pre-orders have an open Beta or let the testers talk about the current state of the game at all before announcing the sale of pre-orders. (*Cough DnL Cough*) Obviously not all pre-orders are scams, but it’s always a gamble.

For those of you ready to offer up your hard earned cash for a head start on the newest merry-go-round, I can only wish you the best. The gamer world needs you to take the leap of faith first so we can see if its safe or whether you’re a red stain on the rocks below. Thanks for reading, but the back of my head is tingling again which means it’s back to the Neurologist for me. Fill us in on your pre-order stance and stay tuned in the next couple weeks as we get in gear for the end of the year madness. Ta ta!