Fair warning, this post isn’t going to be like most of my other posts. Most of them have something constructive to offer. Or, at least, intended to be constructive. Like, you’re supposed to be amused or inspired or enlightened or struck by how cool and sexy that Aether guy is or something like that. This post is just me mildly ranting about something that’s largely inconsequential, with maybe a hint of consumer notice. One might wonder why I’m even spending the time here on it.
Because I feel like it, that’s why.
Businesses like pre-orders. It’s good for them. For producers and retailers, it gives advance economic information on what the likely market for this product is going to be, gets a committed buyer in you, and gets people purchasing items for the intended price, before market forces have the chance to adjust it. For consumers, the advantage is really only if they expect there to be an insufficient supply of the item, which for games has been fading in the world of cheaply produced storage media and digital distribution. So game publishers will sometimes add incentives for it. Preorder bonuses, what not. Because they want you to get preorders, because it’s good for them. Sometimes you just preorder because you know you’ll want the game at launch either way.
But however you do preorders, a central conceit of them is that once the item is out, they’ll actually send you the thing. Apparently, Amazon is trying a maverick new business practice where instead when the item you ordered is released, they just don’t do anything. That’s right, this is a marvelous new feature where you can take all the time you were going to spend on that item you were hotly anticipating and spend it bonding with your friends and family, going out and volunteering, and overall making your life better instead of enjoying time with your new item.
So… yeah. I kind of like buying games to commemorate things, when the opportunity presents itself. One of the very very few odd things about me, I guess. Souvenirs and other simple visuals I’ll inevitably end up sticking somewhere and largely forgetting about them, clothes and useful things will get worn out and destroyed eventually, but games will come back in memory and in turn remind me of the events and people around them. Every time I think back to Final Fantasy Adventure, I remember the childhood road trip with my Grandpa in which he got me the game. Metroid Prime 3 reminds me of one of my old, departed, college professors, as I bought it with money I earned helping him put his property in order in the last months of his life. And early last year, I put a couple of month’s work into a competition, ended up winning a chunk of money in it, and thought I’d get myself the physical release of Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove to create some memory callbacks to the experience later.
So I preordered it.
That was a mistake.
The early parts of it weren’t their fault. When I originally preordered it, it was coming out in May of last year, but then the developers delayed it indefinitely Eventually they announced a release of December 10th. So… there’s like a six month delay between when I expected I’d get it and when I actually should have gotten it that has nothing to do with Amazon. I use my family’s account, so that holiday season, I couldn’t check in on it for fear of getting Christmas spoilers. But December 10th came and went with no Shovel Knight. Well, sometimes things get delayed, and the holiday season’s a busy one for both Amazon and the postal service. Maybe it’s just running late. But then a week passed with no Shovel Knight. Then two. Then Christmas. Still no Shovel Knight. Check the order now, and it’s saying it’ll be there by January 4th. Never actually was shipped. I call up Amazon Customer Service, trying to figure out, hey, what the heck, is this actually going to come for real? I was told it will definitely be shipped out, and would be there January 4th. It wasn’t. Call Amazon Customer Service, it’ll definitely be there January 27th. Check Amazon later, it’s saying January 29th. For a game that had been out almost a month, and I had preordered almost a year ago.
So I cancel that, order the exact same game through Amazon (Prime shipping is addictive) and the game is in my sexy hands two days later. Leading me to wonder what the point of preordering in the first place was. It literally got to me faster and more reliably ordering after release than it did through preorder.
I’ve heard Amazon can be a little hit and miss with preorders. I rarely preorder games, but have done so before through Amazon without issue. And I get that Amazon is an organization moving a lot of product, and quantity leads to mistakes, and they’re high pressure as well, which also leads to mistakes. Things can happen. But what galls me here is that Amazon had multiple opportunities to detect and correct the problem, at least the times I brought it to their attention, and it didn’t happen. No problem here, move along sir. No idea how representative this is of typical preorder on Amazon, or if this might possibly be a nefarious plot by one of my many enemies, but, beware, I guess. Could happen to you.
But hopefully not.