To Pre-Order Or Not Pre-Order: Deciding When A Game Is Worthy To Be Purchased Months Ahead Of Its Release Date

When CD Projekt Red revealed more information about their current project Cyberpunk 2077 at E3 last month, those who have been watching this video game closely had every reason to be excited. Not only did gamers get new footage of the game and a release date (April 16, 2020), there was that big unveiling that Keanu Reeves would be in the video game playing a major character named Johnny Silverhand. The hype factor for Cyberpunk 2077 ballooned ten-fold. Long after the conclusion of E3, more news and interviews about the game’s development and features have been coming out since then.

The more we know about Cyberpunk 2077, the more the temptation to throw money at this game keeps getting stronger and stronger each day. This brings me to my own personal conundrum I have been struggling with as of late—should I pre-order this video game?

[Credit: CD Projekt Red]
Cary of Recollections of Play has written a wonderful article for Virtual Bastion posing this very same question. How do you know if a game is worth pre-ordering? Would it really make a difference if you wait until the game actually comes out on the day it’s supposed to release and then buy it?

I know Cyberpunk 2077 has been on my radar since the 2013 teaser CD Projekt Red posted to their YouTube channel. It has been six long years since we have heard anything new about the project and now we have solid information about what to expect from the game. Among the latest news about Cyberpunk 2077 is the mention of three unique origin stories a player can choose from, which will be known as Lifepaths in the game. It’s very similar to BioWare’s Dragon Age: Origins, where players can choose to play the stories of a human, elf, or dwarf with each background being different from the other. A feature like this in any RPG will naturally encourage multiple playthroughs to experience every character path and ending that’s possible. After hearing this new tidbit, the urge to pre-order Cyberpunk 2077 has been getting harder to ignore. This prompted me to really think about my why for pre-ordering.

I don’t pre-order too many games in general. I typically wait until the game comes out, or hold off for a sale. There aren’t a lot of games I find that are a “gotta have it” for me. Of course there are plenty of games I know I’ll be playing, but I can never justify the oftentimes pricey cost for a newly released game. $60 is a hefty price tag for something that’s more of a want than a need.

Upon further reflection, I realized what would almost always get me to cave to the pre-order allure—the promise (or hope) of a sprawling RPG with intricate storytelling, an expansive character customization feature, and enough variety in the gameplay experience to allow a player to come back to the game and start all over again from the beginning as a new character with an entirely different backstory from the one you just finished. Basically, I’m seeking another Dragon Age: Origins in most of the games I play.

It’s no secret that Dragon Age: Origins has impacted the way I game. I always credit it as one of the first games that fully made me into a gamer at a point in my life where being a gamer might not have been the greatest time to start. Most people have been gaming since they were kids, while I became more interested in gaming as an early 20s, post-college grad adult. Despite being the late bloomer gamer, I don’t regret discovering something about video games that makes me love the medium as much as I love films, television, and books. As long as there are great stories being told, I don’t care what form it takes. It’s those memorable moments that stay with you forever.

Going back to why I would pre-order a game, I guess you can say I’m easily swayed by the information and video footage I acquire about a game’s potential to be the next Dragon Age: Origins and is most likely the main reason why I’ll do something as rare as pre-order a game ahead of its announced release date. I realize I’m subconsciously ticking boxes off in my head of what I know would have me playing a video game almost immediately.

Lately BioWare’s track record of being the high standard for RPGs has been slipping in the last few years with the disappointing Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem. Those who are looking for the kind of storytelling and gameplay experiences they enjoyed from Dragon Age: Origins or Mass Effect may be looking towards Cyberpunk 2077 to step in to give gamers what they want and so much more.

I’m not saying my reason for leaning strongly towards pre-ordering Cyberpunk 2077 is a particularly good reason. It probably isn’t. But if I know I’m just going to play this game anyway and this has been the only game I’m most excited about in 2020, I say, why not? Just take my money…early.

What are some of your own reasons for pre-ordering a video game?

2 thoughts on “To Pre-Order Or Not Pre-Order: Deciding When A Game Is Worthy To Be Purchased Months Ahead Of Its Release Date

  1. Great post! (And thanks for the mention!) We still haven’t jumped on the Cyberpunk 2077 pre-order, even though it’s STILL discounted on Amazon. 🙂 I don’t see any reason to hate on pre-orders because the choice to do so or not is really up to each individual. And y’know, with sites like Amazon, they don’t charge you until the game is released, so essentially you’re just “reserving” a copy of the game, and you can always cancel if you change your mind.

    I’m sure Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be a runaway hit, and if it invokes the sprawling and immersive feelings that attract us to RPGs, all the better. I hope that we’ll get to see lots more snippets from it before next April.

    1. Thanks! Since writing the post I have decided to pre-order Cyberpunk 2077. I figured if it’s one of those few games where the urge is strong to reserve my copy now, I might as well go ahead and get it, right? 🙂 I really do hope this game will turn out to be something special.

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