Pre-ordering video games is always a hot topic for many critics. And it jumped to the forefront again yesterday after Bethesda announced it will send review copies one day before launch. Here’s how the blog post announcing the review policy begins.
“At Bethesda, we value media reviews.” Your actions say otherwise. Kotaku points out Bethesda’s policy doesn’t apply to avid fans on YouTube, one of which has had a final copy of Skyrim Special Edition for a month now.
Polygon touched on the common theme of Bethesda wanting your money before the review hits. Well, it’s a business after all.
Bethesda points to DOOM as a reason why gamers shouldn’t fret. “Earlier this year we released DOOM. We sent review copies to arrive the day before launch, which led to speculation about the quality of the game. Since then DOOM has emerged as a critical and commercial hit, and is now one of the highest-rated shooters of the past few years.”
Alright Bethesda, I’ll give you that. You can thank DOOM’s rock solid single player and Mick Gordon’s stellar soundtrack for the success. You pushed pretty much only multiplayer pre-release and that part of the game was panned by nearly everyone.
Today, pre-order incentives are quickly including earlier access to the game. We saw it with Gears of War 4 and Battlefield 1. And we’re going to see it with Dishonored 2. When you pre-order Dishonored 2, you’ll be playing it the same day as the media (one day earlier).
I could criticize this move all day like other outlets, but I want to take a different approach. I can’t sit here and tell you not to pre-order games when I do it myself sometimes. Why do I do it? First off, I don’t do it for every game. Most games I preorder, I know I’m going to like. And they tend to be multiplayer games.
I preordered Battlefield 1. Why? Because DICE already ran a beta for it, and I loved it. Same thing with Gears of War 4. For Honor is on my radar after I played its recent alpha.
Plus, there’s a more practical side for preordering for many people. Preloading. This is another aspect developers/publishers control. And they always announce when preloading goes live. More and more of us are going digital, and not all of us have Google Fiber to start playing quickly. With AAA games cracking 40 GB+ regularly, preloading allows fans to be able to play on launch day.
That is, before another common trend strikes. Day one patches.
Respawn is about to buck the trend of hefty day one patches with Titanfall 2. In a world where multi-gigabyte patches on release day are the norm, seeing 88 MB is a downright shocking.
Should you be wary of Bethesda holding review copies until the day before launch? Absolutely. There’s a reason Bethesda came out with a pre-emptive statement. They want to get out in front of this. They don’t want you to hear it from your favorite reviewers. Does it mean Dishonored 2 is going to suck? Not necessarily. But, it doesn’t instill confidence like the much earlier embargos of Gears of War 4 and Battlefield 1.
Bethesda is making the bet that you don’t need to see early reviews for Dishonored 2 and Skyrim Special Edition. They can make this bet because both are established franchises with strong track records. But this move does leave me wondering about Dishonored 2’s quality. We’ll all find out together on November 11th.
In the meantime, here’s some badass Dishonored 2 gameplay from YouTuber Volound.