Preordering is one of the more obnoxious aspects of modern gaming; it’s an archaic practice centered on the idea that a website that specializes in fulfillment or a store that sells literally nothing else would run out of video games. But it also guarantees sales, so it’s not going anywhere. In fact, GameStop wants to make it even worse.
VentureBeat recently dug into GameStop’s plans to stay relevant in a world where games are often bought digitally and malls are closing as people realize they’re pits of misery. It turns out that plan mostly boils down to making large chunks of the game a GameStop exclusive, or even make it impossible to buy a physical copy of the game anywhere else:
We also reached out to GameStop and asked if it is trying to get involved earlier in a game’s development to secure better and more important exclusives for its preorder customers. GameStop said that is “accurate.”
“We are working with our [development] partners to build in a longer lead time,” GameStop public-relations spokesperson Jackie Smith told GamesBeat. “And we are working with them to get both physical and digital exclusives for our customers.”
Right now, preorder bonuses are, at best, fairly minor. Most publishers are savvy enough to make those exclusives little more than a few maps or maybe a “Desert Camouflage” skin for your grenade launcher or whatever. And one hopes publishers wouldn’t be so dumb as to sign on to a plan where, say, you can only get the best ending from GameStop.
That said, these are video game publishers we’re talking about. Nobody seriously expects EA or Ubisoft to actually put their customer ahead of their own self interest. If there’s enough money on the table, or they think they can make more money, then the consumer is going straight under the bus.