Picture the scene. You’re about to go on holiday so you book an expensive flight to the sunkissed beaches of Seychelles. You rock up to the airport already wearing your skimpy swimming trunks, only to be told you can get only get on the flight if you’re below 4 foot 3 inches tall. Once you’d established they weren’t joking, you’d probably feel at least a little aggrieved.
Which brings us to the weird and not-so-wonderful world of digital game pre-orders. I don’t know why people do it, and I won’t pretend to know, but a ton of people do pre-order PC games on digital stores long before they’re even due to come out. Quite often, as well, you can pre-order a game, and pay upfront for it, before the developers have even released the system requirements. Publishers have potentially zero idea whether a game will even run on your PC, and yet they’ll gladly take your $60/$90/$120(!) upfront.
What ultimately led me here was none other than Borderlands 3, a game with a potentially eye-watering price tag, no system requirements information whatsoever, and Epic Store exclusivity. At what point does it seem a good idea to throw down £85/$100 on a blind pre-order?
And yep, the holiday analogy was on the extreme end of the scale, but it still seems pretty odd that at least some predicted system requirements aren’t put up alongside pre-orders. To just give us something to go on, at least, when we’re about to spend upwards of $60/£50.
In some stores, it ultimately doesn’t matter too much. Steam, for example, will give you a no-questions-asked refund on a pre-order once the system requirements are made public. Epic has recently updated its refund policy to allow for pre-order refunds provided you aren’t “abusing the system”, but until that point, users could be locked into pre-orders.
To me though, it just ultimately seems a little strange that it is possible to spend money a game while still being utterly uninformed about its hardware demands or performance. For those with beastly PCs it probably doesn’t even enter their minds to think about something like this, but for those teetering on the edge in terms of performance, pre-ordering without even knowing the system specs sounds like madness.
So, do you hold fire from pre-ordering a game until you’ve seen the system requirements? Do you even pre-order at all? Let us know below!