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Should Anyone Buy Anything on Day One Anymore?

The industry is obsessed with day-one purchases. Publishers love pushing the idea that you should pay a large amount of money on software - often times without the possibility of a refund - about which you know very little. For a game that's complete garbage like Aliens: Colonial Marines , getting as many sales on day one before people find is essential. If you don't sell a game like that as quickly as possible, you'll lose out on the ignorant impulse-buyer crowd.

Day one impulse purchases are very important to the industry for games well-made and shitty alike. Developing a computer game is a complicated and expensive process, so I can't exactly fault publishers for trying to incentivise consumers to make a risky day one purchase in order to make back the money they spent trying to make the product itself. Still, there's something contradictory about it all that really makes me scratch my head.

With every big release, publishers insist you buy the game right away. They incentivise you to do so with lame pre-order bonuses that will inevitably be on sale later down the line. They hype up their release to such a point where you can't wait even one day later than you have to get your hands on a product you've never played before. The intent here is to coerce you into buying their product now by capitalising on the fear of missing out.

Missing out on pre-order bonuses makes me feel like I've been punished for being a patient consumer. If I had bought the game before it was released, I could have gotten that timed exclusive offer that I'll now never get. Normally, this would all make sense... if I didn't feel like nearly every pre-order and day one purchase I've made was a huge mistake.

The  Last of Us: Remastered releases tomorrow, featuring slightly better graphics and a decent framerate, along with an actual options menu (perhaps a first for a console game) and a slew of additional content. All of this is available for the same price for which The Last of Us was sold a year ago. The original game is now clearly an inferior product to the new version, but they both cost the same at release.

In my eagerness to play Naughty Dog's newest title, I ended up getting the worst version of the game, the one with the least amount of content and a low framerate. Now my options are to stick with an inferior version of the game or pay full price for an upgraded version of a game I already own.

When The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was still in it's hype cycle, I pre-ordered it for reasons I can't possibly remember or justify. They were never going to run out of copies, so why bother pre-ordering? The game was going to be rife with bugs, so why play the worst version of that game and not wait until all the bugs are fixed and the expansions are released? For a paper map? Now that the Legendary edition of the game is available, I really have to wonder why my adventures in Skyrim couldn't wait.

The same is true of Grand Theft Auto V. Again, I bought into the hype for one of the most overrated games of the previous generation, because I just had to play it as soon as possible. What I ended up playing however, was a very tepid experience that easily could have waited at least a year. Now the PC version is on its way, and I feel like an idiot for ever wasting my time and money on the inferior console version.

I bought the first two Borderlands games before the DLC was released, at the behest of my buddies who wanted to play with me. They eventually lost interest in the game, and when I found out I could get a Game of the Year edition for a fraction of the cost with twice as much content, I felt like a real dummy for paying so much for relatively so little.

What I'm getting at is that despite the industry's insistence that I buy their games right now, they seem to be going out of their way to make me feel stupid for doing so. I'm getting mixed signals from publishers and developers very eager to double dip their consumers as quickly as they can. Of course, I can't really get mad about a great value, but seeing how every game has DLC and a Game of the Year edition, it really makes me wonder if there's any point to buying anything on day one anymore, even as retailers insist that I do.

Is there any reason to pre-order any more? Had I pre-ordered Metal Gear Rising: Revengance on day one, I would have gotten one out of a small handful of cheap pre-order items. When the PC version came out less than a year later at half the cost, I was able to get the best iteration of the game with all of the DLC included. That's a value of about $80, for less than $30, because the only pre-purchase incentive I needed to buy a Platinum game (other than the sheer merit of it being a Platinum game) was a discount, and that's after the price was slashed in half!

It strikes me as almost hypocritical that the publishers and developers of the gaming industry desperately want me to buy their game the day of release, but turn around and make me feel stupid for doing so just a few months later. In certain situations, if I can save a little bit of money by getting a discount on a game I know I'll want and will be good (i.e. Metal Gear Rising: Revengance), I'll probably pre-purchase it. For the most part however, I won't be buying very many AAA console games, and I certainly won't be paying full price on day one for a game I know will be re-sold as an improved version bundled with more content at a lower price. With dozens upon dozens of better games in my back log, why should I buy anything on day one anymore?
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About Kenneth Cummingsone of us since 5:17 AM on 03.22.2013

My name is Ken. I have a deep passion for art and storytelling, video games in particular. You can follow me on Twitter here: