Before we start, I like potatoes. I know I like potatoes because I've eaten them a few times and they taste pretty good. They're also a great source of carbohydrates, but let's not get off topic.
If you are a keen peruser of the internet, you may have noticed some chatter around the concept of pre-ordering, namely that the whole process is evil and should be burned at the stake. While there are many reasons to raise an eyebrow at pre-order offerings and the connotations that surround them, there seems to be one glaring omission from the entire debate: you don't have to do anything.
Be it GAME, Gamestop, Amazon, Tesco, Zavvi, ShopTo or whoever, those in charge of these stores are employed to do one thing: sell product. With that in mind, if Sega gives one of them a call and says 'Hey, we've got some great content that not only adds an extra element to our game but will entice people to buy said game from you' then it stands to reason some sort of deal is going to go down. It benefits the publisher and, yes, it benefits the retailer. Depending on the individual, it can also benefit you.
Taking Alien: Isolation as an example: if the idea of playing as a digital Ellen Ripley appeals to you, there's absolutely nothing wrong in deciding to drop money down on a pre-order. Could it turn out to be terrible? Absolutely. But that's hardly the end of the world, is it? How many times have you read a book and it turned out to be utter gumpf? Or downloaded an album only to realise it's an insult to your ears? It's your hard-earned cash, and you have the right to do whatever the hell you please with it.
Furthermore, no one is forcing you to do anything. If the process of having to dedicate yourself to a game before it comes out sickens you to your stomach, just don't do it. If, on the other hand, you're intrigued by a title, like the fact you'll get a bit more content day one and have the necessary cash lying around, then what's wrong with, ultimately, allowing an element of choice?
It would be an entirely different situation if fucking Sonic kicked down the door to your house, threw you on the ground, stuck a gun to your head and forced you to hand over all your change to the Gamestop manager gleefully laughing in the corner of the room. But that has never happened. And will never happen. Guaranteed*!
There's no consumer hostility. No pressure. If the situation gets to a point where mammoth amounts of content are being put behind a pre-order wall then maybe it's time to readdress the situation, but even then, the answer is always the same: vote with your wallet. If no one buys into the idea, then that idea has to die. It's a waste of everyone's time.
There's always room within games to be slightly cynical, even negative should the scenario demand it. A healthy approach and balance to any walk of life is never a bad thing. But should you be made to feel guilty for getting excited about a game to the point you fancy securing yourself a copy early? Definitely not.
Live your life your way. Do what you want to do (don't break the law). And remember that pre-ordering a video game is by no means the worst thing to ever happen on this planet.
*Not a guarantee…