Picture if you will, the launch day of a game you have been anticipating for a long, long time. It has finally arrived, you’re all dressed up, ready to go pick it up. When you arrive at the store, a stack of the game rests behind the counter. You walk up, slam your wallet on the counter and excitedly ask for your game. And that, is when the question is asked. “Did you preorder the game?” the clerk asks you. And this is where the conversation may go one of two ways. If you had, you’ll walk out happy and be on your merry way. But if you hadn’t, the large stack of games will only be a longing taunt to you, as the clerk tells you the store only ordered copies for those that preordered. The policy of preordering has gone through some interesting changes in recent years, and the skepticism towards it has flared up recently. As the picture I painted above tells you, preordering has become a means for a store to determine what they believe the overall consumer base will be for that game. This means the store doesn’t have to over order copies of a game that may not sell well, and essentially takes a lot of market risk out of their equation. There are games that may not be affected by these numbers, of course. Huge franchises like Call of Duty and Battlefield, are always going to be in dubious supply. So where does that leave the JRPG fans? Where does that leave the fans of niche genres and niche titles, who fear that if they don’t preorder the game, the retailer won’t even bother to stock the title? Preordering has become one of the most overwhelming marketing schemes in the gaming industry as of late. Retailers will fight tooth and claw to offer extra incentives in order to garner more sales at their respective chain. The preorder bonus strategy has become overwhelmingly robust over the past couple of years. Things like exclusive skins for weapons and soldiers in Call of Duty, to extra missions and expanded mini DLC in games like Assassins Creed. There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to throw in some incentives for purchasing at that store, but as of late, it has become a war between chains that surges so strongly that, in some cases, it makes the gamer feel like they may be missing a part of their game if they happen to even decide to preorder at the wrong store, or choose not to preorder at all! There are of course, other horrifying examples of preorder bonuses gone wacko. Look at February's Evolve, which had over seven different preorder ready games, all with various incentives based on retail chain and dollar amount. Evolve offered early access to a monster for FREE if you happened to preorder at GameStop, and if you hadn't, you would have to shell out $15 to purchase it over a month later. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with preordering. Having the ability to reserve a game, doesn’t need to be a flourished out concept that ultimately decides who gets a game and who doesn’t. Many people will take the stance that preordering is awful, and that supporting that industry will continue to give retailers the ability to stomp all over you and gobble up your money. But at the end of the day, you’re probably asking yourself, “Well yeah… but if I DON’T preorder the game, then I’ll be the only one without a copy.” It isn’t wrong to think like that. It isn’t wrong to preorder something that you know, without a shadow of doubt that you will pick up day one, or at a midnight launch, and play to your heart’s content. What’s wrong is the way policies retailers have in place for preordering games. The concept is not the overall problem, rather, it is the execution. Retailers have begun an awful trend of punishing and excluding those that don’t preorder, or even worse, don’t preorder fast enough. Think about it for a moment. Let’s say you are absolutely certain you are going to pick up Fallout 4 day one, so you are absolutely willing to put down money on a franchise you adore. But when you pop open your browser, or visit your store, money in hand, what might you be met with? “I’m sorry, we have sold out of pre-orders.” Excuse-a-what-now? What was originally a means of determining how many games to get, and determine demand, has suddenly become an exclusivity club. What was once a way to meet up with everyone on launch day and pick up one of the biggest releases of the year, is now met with all-out war to become the first person to preorder it. Think this is an over exaggeration? You won’t be when I bring up our other culprit. Amiibo. Yes that’s right, we all know the story with these don’t we? We all know the rabid, slobbering, untamable hunger that exists in the hearts of Amiibo collectors. The endless refreshing and clicking and screaming when a button that says pre-order, and has been up for all of two minutes, suddenly fades to white and tells you it is now, “Out of stock.” And how does it come to this? Things that probably haven’t even been sculpted out of the cheap Chinese plastic they’re born from, somehow aren’t available to the people that desire it? How can it be that these games, and these game figures, are completely out of our grasp when they don’t even exist yet? This is where the anger, the hatred resides. Not against preordering, but against the policies of retailers and distributors. The overall chokehold they claim to have over our money, and our desired product. And what can we do, as consumers? Most will tell you to just stop preordering. Which you can, you may, “vote with your wallet,” all you like. But in the end, we all know deep down we won’t do it. We fear exclusion, we fear missing out. How much power do gamers really even have to stop policies like this? Will GameStop simply fall to its knees and beg to have Greg’s money back because he was the only one of his group of friends that all swore they wouldn’t preorder Fallout 4, was the only one to actually do it? I think we all know the answer to that question. Instead, it’s up to gamers to continue to be vocal about it. As feeble as it sounds, we all know the policy isn’t right at the end of the day, but we also know 95% of us are going to continue to support it with our money. The real point of all this talk, is that you shouldn’t feel pressured or guilty, for preordering something that you care about. The fault isn’t on us for supporting preordering. The fault is on the policies of preordering that other chains seem to have on us. It’s up to gamers instead, to decide where they will support preordering. Will you preorder games from a store that enforces these death grip policies, or will you spend your money somewhere you are treated better? Vote with your wallet people. Not on spending it in general. But where you spend it.