A few days ago my partner in crime at The Dadcade, Nick, published an article citing that the video game industry is broken and put a lot of the blame on big publishers for the way they handle releases and DLC packs. Most notably, was the recent announcement of the Star Wars: Battlefront DLC pack that will cost gamers 50 bucks for a couple map packs post release. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand season passes and I hate pre-order bonuses with a burning rage, but the publishers aren’t the bad guys here in my opinion. Sure, they are making the decision to release the content in a manner that seems like it’s sucking you dry of every penny you own, but do you know why they are doing it? Because we tell them time and time again that it’s OK to do this based on the fact that we buy everything they throw at us.
In the video game industry, it seems a lot of people like to look at companies as being on their side. While I’m sure companies would love nothing more for our interests to align with theirs, at the end of the day, they never will, because big publishers like EA and Activision are out to make money. There are certainly some companies out there doing right by the consumers, but chances are they are much smaller than the big publishers. These are publicly owned companies who have to report to share holders who want to see an ever growing bottom line. To do this, they will try to make money any way they can, and the one major way to do that is through follow up content for games. A publisher will have their developers release a game at launch and also sell a season pass for future content. You’re basically buying all of their future content with a slight discount and maybe some additional cosmetic bonuses. We can sit and debate the evils of this practice all day and if the current game is being gutted to make an additional buck down the road. Regardless, people look at this announcing of future DLC packs and seasons passes as a blight on the gaming industry and something that should be eradicated at all costs…but then they’ll open their wallets and buy it. What kind of message does that send? If you answered, “I support your decision to block content from me until I pay more” then you answered correctly.
Nowhere is this sentiment more obvious than with pre-orders. Pre-orders are generally known to be a pain in the ass and something consumers don’t like. We are basically handing our money over to companies well ahead of the release date of a game for no good reason. Let’s face it, there isn’t going to be a shortage of Call of Duty games every November. Madden won’t all of a sudden stop their annual release schedule because pre-orders didn’t meet expectation. Retailers won’t mysteriously run out because pre-order numbers weren’t met. If you’re someone who plays obscure games that a store might only get a few copies of, by all means, pre-order to ensure you get that, but for the bigger releases, there is no real reason to do it…unless of course, you’re blinded by those shiny pre-order bonuses.
Pre-order bonuses have become an industry norm at this point. A game will come out with some minuscule content, usually cosmetic, locked out of the game and only available to those who pre-order and receive a code. To make matters worse, companies will give vendor specific pre-order bonuses to each company that you buy it from. Want that gun with stripes on it? Better pre-order from Gamestop. How about a gun with a pink barrel? Well that’s Amazon. It’s bullshit and it’s something we as consumers shouldn’t stand for. But time and time again, people will pre-order games to get those bonuses, all the while complaining about it to anyone who will listen. A recent study published by Adobe states that pre-orders are actually up 24% in 2015. That’s no small number either, people are pre-ordering games now more than ever.
So, the next time you see that big season pass go on sale months before the game actually releases, or you see some fancy gun or emote available if you pre-order a game, stick to your own guns and don’t bite. If you’re going to complain about companies and their practices, then you better be doing everything in your power to send a clear message that you don’t appreciate it. It’s akin to the non-voter complaining about the results of an election. At the end of the day, it’s not the companies fault for trying to make money, that’s what they do. They are only doing things that make money, we are the ones facilitating their plans and allowing them to make a quick buck off of something we all despise.