Video Game Pre-Orders Declining Across the Industry

Published 9 months ago by

Destiny ghost edition pre-order

Like microtransactions, DLC and DRM, video game pre-orders have become an increasingly controversial subject in recent years as publishers seek to incentivize them by cobbling together special editions of games complete with extra missions and bits of merchandise, such as Aiden Pearce’s “iconic” hat.

It’s easy to see why gamers might start to become disillusioned by pre-order culture. Since it’s possible for developers to fix bugs and glitches after games have already been released, a “ship now, patch later” attitude has meant that gamers who play games on day one will often find themselves running up against technical issues, effectively putting down money to “gamma test” the product. Furthermore, even pre-order bonuses like Alien: Isolation‘s extra missions, which feature almost the entire cast of the original Alien, will often became available for download some time after the game’s release anyway.

Whatever the reason, it seems that the glamor of pre-orders may be wearing off. According to GamesIndustry, Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg has reported an industry-wide “secular downtown” in the number of games being pre-ordered, attributing this decline to different factors such as the growing dominance of digital downloads, the wide availability of games on day one and the decline in demand for titles on last-gen consoles.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Mitchell

Hirshberg said that it’s important to “reset expectations” when it comes to pre-orders, since the number of pre-orders for a title doesn’t reveal as much about demand for a game as it used to. Better predictors for success, he claimed, are metrics like consumer awareness and purchase intent.

Gamers were given yet another reason to be disgruntled with Activision’s pre-orders this week, as a number of Best Buy customers had their Destiny Limited Edition pre-orders cancelled due to supply shortages. This comes in the wake of Destiny‘s Ghost Edition pre-orders being cancelled for some customers at Walmart last month, which led to pre-orders being auctioned off for up to $1000 on eBay.

With regards to Activision’s major upcoming title Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Hirshberg said that it was not been immune to the downward trend in pre-orders, but that purchase intent is much higher than last year’s Call of Duty: Ghosts. Only time will tell whether this downturn has any effect on the way video game publishers and retailers treat pre-orders, but for now let us know in the comments if you like to pre-order games, or prefer to wait and see how well they’re reviewed first.

Source: GamesIndustry

TAGS: Activision, Call of Duty, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Destiny

  • Galvus the Bandit

    Oh well. Do something about people who buy 6 copies from 6 different stores then inflate the price by 300% and list them on Ebay within 24 hours of release. Or, wait for it….why don’t you consider making a great “complete” game with no pre-order this, or worthless dlc that. Do you really think charging MORE MONEY for whimsical junk is going to sell copies? I like how the actual game is always compromised for eye candy, or that exterior look. Its the same as cereal makers making the box lavish and exciting so that kids want to buy it up for no other reason.

    • Marcus

      *thumbs up*

  • bio

    Maybe they will go back to how DLC and exapnsions orginally were. Additions to a already complete game. Today more then half of the time it’s either some useless gimmick it adds to the game or content ripped out of the game just to be added back in for more money.

    • Marcus

      *thumbs up*

  • dan

    Could this just be that, while the volume of games being released has inflated, the relative size of the gaming population has remained the same, and thus gamers have had to pick and choose where they want to put their preorder funds?

    Personally, I think this should motivate devs to put more effort into the game itself, as opposed to adding superficial junk.

    • Marcus

      According to something I read on Forbes, the player base is drastically shrinking. Nintendo, X-Box One, and PS4 are currently being hit due to the highly expensive price tags on consoles, games, subscriptions, and utilities. ‘Free 2 Play’ (Mobile) and PC Games (Desktop & Laptop) provide a somewhat cheaper form of entertainment.

      ‘Free 2 Play’ is heading towards being government regulated; therefore, the court cases in the pile line could have an impact.

      Smaller player base + affordable entertainment = decline in console games.


    For me, it’s the attitude of developers releasing barely finished games, which are constantly patched over the coming months.. So rather than pay £50 on day one for an incomplete game, I’ll wait a couple of months, pay £25 and actually get the finished product.

    • Marcus

      Developer’s attitudes are defiantly a problem. Companies such as EA, EA/BioWare, Activision, Obsidian, and Cryptic have allowed their egos to harm public relations. After experiencing a backlash to their rpgs, BioWare started to use the LGTB community to soften negative feedback. Instead of admitting themselves for bad quality games, BioWare decided to blame fans for being homophobic.

      • Marcus

        … FIXED …

        Instead of accepting personal responsibility, BioWare decided to blame fans for their failures. Now, they are advertising, “If you do not like our games, you must be suffering from homophobia.” BioWare/EA has become a very divisive and malicious company.

  • TaboriHK

    I’d like to believe that gamers are finally getting wise to this sham gimmick, but somehow I don’t think they are. I wish this industry would have more confidence in what it makes, without having to resort to these constant gimmicks. But then, they’d have to put more heart and soul into the products they make, first.