Video Game Preorders have been around since the SNES and Genesis days but the Season Pass is a relatively new concept. It started popping up in 2010, actually. Anyway, folks have been talking about both all over the internet in recent months. Before we weigh the pros and cons, let’s first go over what they are.
Preordering means you pay a portion of the cost of what you’re buying before its actual release. It’s like layaway where you can pay for a game or game system over a period of time. The only difference is you’re paying in advance ahead of its actual release. This predominately applies to physical games and consoles but you can preorder and predownload content via Stream as well as select Blizzard PC games and expansions. The point is once you preorder, you’re guaranteed a copy of the game or the console in question since you paid for it at least in part prior to its release. Note this ONLY applies to physical copies of games, not digital versions.
Critics slam Gamestop (no surprise) over how aggressively they push preordering on to people. They’re not the only store that does preorders of course but they’re “the store for gamers” so…yeah. Anyways folks against preordering are in fact the ones who rarely preorder. They feel Preordering is a conpsiracy used to artificially control that first shipment size. There is also the legit concern around scalpers who preorder multiple copies of a game or console and resell their copies on Ebay. They get around the one per customer per store limitation by preordering at multiple stores for those who wonder how they do it. About a third of all Preorders are in fact resellers.
One tactic stores and companies use that irks the anti-preorder crowd are preorder bonuses. For example, I got a poster when I preordered Pokemon OmegaRuby and PokemonAlphaSapphire. I also got some goodies when I preordered Pokemon Diamond and Pearl back in the day. Preordering Fire Emblem Awakening got you an artbook. Preorder bonuses are of limited supply by design as a carrot to get folks to preorder games. Those who dom’t like it are typically the ones who don’t preorder or don’t get the preorder bonuses due to limited supply. That said, it’s interesting to note Premium Edition Games (typically cost $20 to $30 more)–which are intentionally made in limited quantities–don’t get the same scrutiny even though they serve the same purpose XD
Season Passes, on the other hand…whew. The concept of course originated with TV Shows sold on iTunes, Xbox Video and Amazon Prime. It basically meant you could buy a whole season. If the season was still airing on broadcast TV, you could download the latest episode usually within 12 hours of it airing on TV. With video games, it means you can pay for all current and future DLC Content in advance for an addition cost. Season passes usually go for $30 so for a $60 game your total purchase is $90 combined. The practice is most prevelant on Microsoft and Sony consoles as well as the Vita.
For those who don’t know, the REAL reason Season Passes for Video Games was created was to recoup revenue companies don’t get from preowned game sales. Gamestop makes 70% of its profit from preowned games. This is the industry’s way of still getting their cut though the added burden is put on consumers. DLC content in console games exist for the same reason. I already made a blog post on my stance on DLC so I’ll leave it at that. I will say that I don’t buy Season Passes since the DLC content I do buy isn’t worth getting a Season Pass over. It sounds like you’re saving money when you buy a Season Pass but if you’re only interested in getting a handful of things, that $30 was a waste of your money. The Call of Duty games prettymuch force folks to buy a Season Pass to play competatively online. It’s mostly because of how the games’ online is set up but yeah. I made that mistake with Modern Warfare 3. Never again.
To close, Season Passes are a waste of money overall. In the majority of the games that have them, the game only has a 6-month lifespan at the most before the next game in the series is announced. meanwhile, you’re stuck with a $30 additional investment that’s now obsolete.
Preorders, on the other hand are handy when used properly. For example, I use it to pay for an upcoming game or console in advance since historically, I happen to be broke unable to buy the game on release day. I also only preorder a high profile game. The last game I preordered I believe was Persona Q for the Nintendo 3DS.