Why I Don't Preorder Games
Preordering games can be risky while saving just a bit of money. There are plenty of examples where it's either a good or bad choice to make. Here is the case I make for not preordering.
You take a pretty big risk to save $5. There have been stories where games have gone horribly wrong when they're released. Some large, experienced developers have hyperbolic announcements only to be underwhelming when it's released. I end up waiting until games release and view reviews on YouTube, gameplay on Twitch, and professional articles across the internet. If you wait long enough, you can even catch it on sale.
Take the story of Valve's Artifact for example. Valve knows how to make games with some of the biggest games in the industry including Half Life, Team Fortress 2, Portal, and more. It had been years since Valve published a game. When Artifact was announced, it was already years in the making.
Artifact was going to be a game that was going to change the deck-building genre. It did in fact do that. Freemium games were plentiful, and Artifact's $20 price point was a large premium in the deck-building genre. After Artifact was released, it met with a lot of criticism from players and the number of players dropped dramatically within a month. It seemed to tank the entire genre with it to the point that deck-building games were no longer as popular.
Valve then decided to remake the game dubbed Artifact Foundry. Unfortunately, due to the small number of participants during the beta, Valve decided to terminate any further development. If you preordered the game at $20, you now have a game that devolved into a permanent beta state that anyone else can now play for free.
Further reading: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2021/03/valve-scraps-revamped-artifact-dumps-free-unfinished-2-0-version-on-steam/
CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077
Let's turn to another popular game that many people pre-ordered, Cyberpunk 2077. Overall the game is really popular and released with critical acclaim. However, the Playstation version was notoriously buggy and unplayable. In fact, the Windows and Linux versions of the game have less bugs and much higher framerates compared to game consoles. Sony even authorized refunds for people who bought Cyberpunk 2077. Some preorder games are not as lucky to be refunded.
Then we have EA. There are many examples of where EA promises but can't deliver on its games or lies about the reason for some of the game-limiting "features" just so its DRM can work properly.
One example of this is SimCity. It had been a decade since Maxis released SimCity 4, so there was building anticipation for an updated sequel. It had been pretty hyped with great gameplay videos. I almost bought it until I read the reviews and viewed the videos in detail.
The game required an internet connection at all times, even in single player mode. First the company said that due to all of the features, it could only be reliably rendered on servers to take the load off of computers. This statement is troubling in of itself. What happens when the company determines the game is at the end of its life and the servers are shut down? I usually play games for about a decade, and it was a decade since we last saw an updated game in the franchise. Someone debunked that lie, and it finally came out that the mandatory internet connection was required because of the DRM needing to phone home.
This was another troubling aspect of the game. EA's DRM is invasive and leads to people to having an unplayable game for those who don't have a reliable internet connection. Also it keeps people from installing the game in the future when migrating to an updated version of Windows. That's right, SimCity 4 cannot be played on Windows 10 because its own DRM is not compatible. To play certain EA titles on Windows 10 that you have already bought, you need to take a trip to The Pirate Bay and download the cracked versions without the incompatible DRM. It can also be played on Linux using Wine.
Another problem was the 2km square area you were limited to building on with only a freeway connection for car traffic to feed into or out of your city. You couldn't expand and build frontage roads with the rest of the freeway system to reduce traffic congestion. This game felt like the failed SimCity Societies on steroids.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Here's a game that ended up being a great example of why preordering was a good choice. The game was great, critically acclaimed at the release, sold more copies than other game at the time, and you received exclusive content.
Be very careful when preordering new games. Some games turn out very well while others fall flat. You might get lucky and obtain a pretty good bargain by preordering with exclusive content. I'll just stick to preordering DLCs from games I know are going to be good.