Once upon a time I felt as though pre-ordering a video game was a helpful consumer service but nowadays? With a handful of exceptions pre-ordering video games is all about serving your corporate overlords by informing retailers and publishers of demand and the impact of marketing campaigns. Well, there's that and there's the whole getting hype thing.
Don't get me wrong — I don't think pre-ordering video games is necessarily a bad thing. I've done it plenty of times. I pre-ordered Metal Gear Solid IV, I pre-ordered Halo 2. There's something a little satisfying about knowing that a video game you are anticipating has been bought and paid for. It's sort of like 'aaaaaaaaaah'. It's like ticking boxes. Sometimes it feels good to just scratch things off a list.
It's gone too far. The scary thing about pre-ordering video games is that consumers have very few rights when it comes to getting money back when it all goes arse up. If a retailer goes belly up, you're at the bottom of the list when it comes to creditors. Pre-ordering is definitely a thing you want to do selectively.
Particularly when the chances of games actually selling out in stores is slim. Most of the time games sell out because they are not traditional blockbusters and retail has underestimated demand. Luigi's Mansion 2 is a good example. That game was tough to find. Grand Theft Auto V? Sure it sold out day one, but that's the exception and Rockstar was quick to get units in store.
It's crazy. And the thing that irritates me most is stores taking pre-orders for games that barely exist or — worse — haven't even been announced yet!
With that said. Here are the five games I actually can't believe you can pre-order.
NOTE: As this was originally posted on Kotaku AU, all links are to EB Games Australia, Gamestop's local outposts.
Halo Xbox One Working Title (Xbox One)
Okay, here's an idea. If a game doesn't have a proper, official name yet. Maybe you shouldn't be offering it up for pre-orders. It's called Halo Xbox One Working Title on the EB Games website for God's sake!
All we've seen of Halo 5, or Halo: [INSERT SUB-TITLE HERE] is a CGI trailer. That's it. Master Chief wearing a rag to cover his helmeted, robotic face from the desert winds for some reason.
This game exists. Barely. It just about exists. Of course a new Halo is being worked on, of course it will be released at some point. But we have no idea what that game looks like. We know literally nothing about it!
A picture of ye olde maps moving around, all animated and shit. A mention of Nathan Drake's name. A moody voiceover. Mystery. Intrigue.
50 seconds of nothing. Guys — IT'S NOTHING.
Devil's Third (360)
Recent news informs us this game is still being worked on. Despite absolutely nothing being shown since goddamn years ago. Literally years ago.
Does this game still exist? Does anyone have any idea what it looks like at this stage, what it plays like? I faintly remember Tomonobu Itagaki going on about military powers and whatnot when I interviewed him YEARS AGO about this game, but I still know next to nothing about this game.
Are people really pre-ordering this? Apparently it's 80% complete. But man, there is just no information about the kind of shape this game will take at all.
Mirror's Edge 2 (Xbox One/PS4/PC)
I almost forgive this one. The original was a cult game. The sequel is highly anticipated. It's a game we didn't really expect to get. For those reasons I can sort of understand why people might want to pre-order this and, hence, why some retailers are accepting pre-orders for it.
But no. The key word here is almost. Who knows if this game will even get finished. Who knows when we'll even get our first glimpse of gameplay? Seriously. At the moment this game is just an idea. It's an idea based on our collective love for an under-appreciated video game. Mirror's Edge 2 as we hope it will eventually become does not even exist yet.
It's just an idea.
The Legend Of Zelda (Wii U)
This one is easily the worst. Easily.
As far as we're concerned this video game literally does not exist. There has been no announcement. No game footage. No real discussion of the game. Nothing. NADA.
Of course we all know that a Zelda is coming on the Wii U. But come on! Pre-ordering? Now?