Let’s go back to December 9th 2013: No Man’s Sky is announced and the gaming world is in awe. The hype surrounding this game grows for almost 3 years and finally, on August 9th 2016, it is released. Then, what has happened with many other games happens with No Man’s Sky; disappointment. It is the same problem that games such as Evolve, Battlefield Hardline, Homefront: The Revolution and many more had being over-hyped. These games ended up underachieving. Was this the fault of gaming studios? Partially. At the same time it was also the fault of retailers and hardware manufacturers. They push so hard for pre-orders and sometimes exaggerate aspects of the games in order to secure sales so much that it doesn’t allow gamers to enjoy the game and really experience it. The game needs to be perfect out of the box.
Now, I personally enjoy No Man’s Sky, but I definitely understand the disappointment in this game. A lot of gamers feel like the game wasn’t finished upon release. The hope of multiplayer was dashed when we found out two players had located the same planet but could not locate each other. Hello Games Studio is only the latest in the revolving door of preorder disappointment. With how stringent copyright laws currently are, major retailers such as Wal-Mart cannot accept a return on a game if it has been opened, no matter the reason. So, if you spend $60 dollars to pre-order one of the most hyped games of the year and it’s a disappointment, you’re stuck with it.
The other major contributor to the current video game disappointment are the hardware manufacturers. Sony, for instance, has a 14 day return policy on the purchase of digital games. Sounds good right? Almost. The problem with this model is that the game may only be returned if the download for the game has not started. So, just like purchasing a physical copy of the game from a major retailer, if the game does not live up to the expected hype you are stuck with a $60 dollar investment that you may never use again.
One of two things has to happen: Either the manufacturers have to change their mindset on pre-orders being the best way to garner sales, or they have to adjust the return policy of not only digital versions of game, but also of physical copies. One way they could go about this with physical copies is have a seven day window where you may return a physical copy of a game even if it has been opened. As far as digital versions go, they could adjust the policy to where if the game has been played less than a predetermined amount of time, let’s use 2 hours for instance, you may revoke your license to the game and receive a full refund.
If something doesn’t change as far as the mindset of both developers and distributors when it comes to pre-orders, gamers will begin to be soured by the idea of purchasing games from certain studios. It does not matter if the studio has an amazing track record of games, it only takes one bad experience of purchasing a bad game for full retail price and being stuck with it. The consumer does not ever want to feel like they made a bad investment because they’ll be hesitant to ever purchase again.