Retailers Would Love To Sell Video Games Before Their Release Date

by Robert Workman


With more and more titles being offered for digital pre-order and pre-load, it seems consumers can’t wait to get their hands on some of today’s hottest games. But where does that leave retailers? In the dust.

GamesIndustry International recently ran a piece talking about how some retailers are looking for a change in how video game pre-orders are handled, perhaps even getting to the point of asking game publishers to provide games early, enabling consumers to pick them up one to three weeks before their release. However, they wouldn’t be activated until release day, like digital pre-orders.

Several retailers are speaking to publishers about the possibility, which would work in the same business sense as digital pre-orders. But there’s a slight problem with that.

Purchasing an item that doesn’t work out of the box right away may throw off some consumers. After all, you don’t see someone going to pick up a copy of Mad Max: Fury Road on Blu-Ray, only to be notified that they’re locked out from using it for one to three weeks. That would probably anger the consumer and have them running back to the store to return it.

Still, Christopher Dring, who wrote up the piece for GamesIndustry, did note some positives. “It makes sense to roll this out to other distribution channels. The idea of going into a shop to order a game, and then returning a month later to buy it, always seemed frankly antiquated.

“Yet it’s not only consumer friendly, it’s potentially retailer and publisher friendly, too.”

But he also noted challenges, such as games going Gold a few weeks before they’re launched, and then going to manufacturers, not to mention things like piracy and a potential challenge “when it comes to bandwidth”, as it could put pressure on servers of launching games.

Whatever the case, we’ll see what comes of this idea, and, who knows, maybe retailers can benefit after all – or keep selling digital pre-orders.

By Robert Workman

Robert Workman has spent years working in the video game industry, for sites like Shacknews, AOL GameDaily and Marooners Rock. He's also very skilled in contributing to podcasts and video broadcasts, and can pretty much out-game you under the table. Oh, and just go ahead and ask him about glorious craft beers. Go on, ask him.