I've made a new rule for myself. I'm not going to purchase any more video games on day 1. This also means no more preordering. Conditions apply.
Why have I decided this? I'm glad you asked.
Most games are broken in some way on release
Whether it be something as small as glitchy quests/animations or things as large as faces falling off or the game crashing and deleting your save, games do not come out "finished" any more. Patches abound on nearly every game that has been released since the internet became commonplace in homes. Suffice it to say that on release, games are not in the condition they are truly meant to be played in.
This isn't necessarily a fault of anyone in particular per se, but it is becoming an increasingly large problem - especially with preorders.
It is not entirely the game developers' fault; so much can go wrong when developing a game. The best way to break it down is this: If you have one thing, it can either work or it doesn't. Two possible outcomes. If you have two things, the first thing can work or not, the second can work or not, and the first can work with the second thing or not. Six possible outcomes. As you start adding things, the possible problems that can arise with every thing expands exponentially. As games get larger and more complex, the potential issues skyrocket.
Does this mean publishers are to blame? Not entirely. They have demands to meet, consumers to please, money to make back on their games. Release schedules being pushed back means more dollars for development - with the rising number of people needed to create these massive games, costs rise as well. While big publishers like EA and Ubisoft are massive machines with big budgets and revenue, they do have a finite number of dollars.
This doesn't however mean that it is OK to release broken games to the public. The only way for players to be heard is through their wallets.
Patches patches patches
You go to the store and pick up your new game. You take it home and put the disk in the tray. You grab your controller and... Day 1 patch. it's several GB. you put the controller down, walk away and decide to come back to it tomorrow, when it's actually ready to play.
The next day, you come back to your game, ready to jump in. The patch is all downloaded and ready to go. You boot it up and... There's a new patch(!). Something urgently needed fixing and you can't play the game until the new patch is downloaded.
This is a common occurrence in today's releases. Some games get up to ridiculous version numbers - some can get as high as 20 patches over a games given lifespan. Either you can update a game every time a new patch comes out... Or you can simply wait, purchase the game, update it once, and never have to worry again.
The cost of being a gamer
Video games aren't cheap. If you're keen on picking up a title day 1, chances are it's $100 - at least. Any bonuses, special editions, extras etc drive the cost up even higher.
If you manage to wait for a few months, even just one month in some cases, guaranteed you will see a price drop. That $100 game? Now it's $80. Oh wait, now it's $60. If you can wait a year, it's $30 - $40.
I picked up Assassins Creed: Rogue Collectors Edition for $36 a few days ago. This game is 8 months old and was priced above $100 at release.
Pile of Shame
I get it. I get the hype. I get the rush of getting something new. But before you leave the house to go pickup that preorder, have a look at the shelf with all your games on it. Have you played every single game there?
I'm willing to bet real monopoly money that at least one of those games there isn't even open yet, and better still, was a game you were massively excited for when it was released.
I haven't met a gamer yet that doesn't have at least 1 game on their Pile of Shame.
There's always an exception to the rule
Oddly enough, I've found that Nintendo is the exception here. Their games are polished to the point of perfection (Toad's Treasure Tracker), they work right out of the gate, even with multiplayer (Splatoon), Nintendo games barely ever drop in price, even 3 years later (Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, released 2012) and I've personally found that most Nintendo titles have very little (if any) patches at all. They seem to be one of the only companies still dedicated to actually getting a game right before releasing it to the world.
Now that I've laid that all out - what are your thoughts on preorders? Do you pick up many games on release? Let me know in the comments.