GameStop: Preorders Are Down Overall, But That's Not A Reason to Worry

Gamers are still uncertain of what platform they want to play on, retailer says; but it doesn't matter much, because actual sales are up.

During a post-earnings financial call today, GameStop president Tony Bartel acknowledged that preorders overall are down, but said this is nothing to worry about. That's because the downward trend in preorders doesn't equal lower overall sales. In fact, total sales are up, as evidenced in GameStop's latest rosy sales report for the latest quarter that saw software sales rise 15.6 percent.

So what's causing the downturn in preorders? According to Bartel, some consumers are still undecided about about which platform they want to play on, and so they won't take the time to reserve a game. You can understand why gamers might have a hard time making up their minds, as many multiplatform titles are often available on two generations of competitng platforms (Xbox 360/Xbox One and PS3/PS4).

"They are down from what we've seen in the past, we think for a couple of reasons," Bartel said about preorder figures. "One, we think people are still debating what console they're going to buy the game on. And so, what we have seen, is just because our pre-sales are down, it does not mean that are actual sales are down. And as [GameStop executive vice president Mike Hogan] shared, [sales] are actually over-performing on all of the launches on Xbox One and PS4. So that's a trend we're continuing to see."

In the short-term, Bartel said GameStop has seen a "significant increase" in preorders for recent game announcements (none were named outright), but this jump was not enough to stem the overall dip.

Also during the call, Bartel said preorders remain the best indicator of future sales. "So even though presales are down a bit, we still believe they are the best barometer in the industry of what a game's actual demand will be. It's just that we have to buy a lot more relative to our pre-sales than what we've had to do in the past," he said.

This goes against what Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said last month, when he claimed that preorders are no longer the most effective tool with which to measure future sales, according to a report from GamesIndustry International. For his part, Hirshberg argues that general awareness and purchase intent measured in other ways are becoming more and more important.

Do you find yourself preordering fewer games but still buying as many as you normally would? Let us know in the comments below!

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch

For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

62 comments
Stepn2myworld
Stepn2myworld

Hopefully, this means that people are being smarter, realizing that some stupid extra is not worth rolling the dice on a game we have never played. This trend needs to increase. Games should sell based on their merit and not based on a pre-order bonus that you will be able to eventually buy, if you choose to, as DLC in the future. 

grenadehh
grenadehh

It might just be because people are learning common sense? Or not pre-ordering from gamestop and falling for their DLC exclusivity bullshit? I haven't pre-ordered a game since......shi I don't even remember. Maybe Total War Rome 2? And you can see why I stopped if that was the last one.


burnettaj
burnettaj

To each his own. Order from Gamestop or not. Your choice. Moving on.

mcautoman1
mcautoman1

Since I have been a member of Bestbuy's gamers reward club I wait to buy my games and save a tone of cash. I put down money for Madden 15 only after I got my trade in credit for my used PS4 games. Stop wasting your money at Gamestop go to Bestbuy you get money off any new game you buy from them.

Hiraishin
Hiraishin

First of all Gamestop's customer service ethics generally suck.

Second of all, for me I only pre-order if it's a game i feel will really deliver what its developers claim. Many games just end up being disappointing these days.

The only games i could think of wanting to pre order off the top of my head: CD Projekt Red Witcher 3, Halo, any kind of Legend of Zelda.

DarkJedi8_basic
DarkJedi8_basic

I feel that pre-orders are down simply because of the announcements of Day One DLC...why Pre-Order a game when in six months you'll get all the pre-order bonuses and DLC in a Game of the Year addition for half of the cost?  Sorry, but I was all in on Shadow of Mordor until thier recent announcement of DLC, now Im waiting for the GotY release.

themc_7
themc_7

people are starting to see that preorders are just corporate greed. I'll still buy the game, I just won't be order.

blackothh
blackothh

pre-ordering is dropping because more and more new "hot" games are turning out to be severely over-hyped games that only amount to an ok forgettable gaming experience, and I for one will not waste my money with pre-ordering nonsense.

kingcrimson24
kingcrimson24

well , i can't pre order because of my country , but if i could i would definitely pre order Witcher 3 , Halo and Forza Horizon 2

madara86
madara86

i would say it the Smart people that are keeping there distance  for now as simply both consoles have not had a game that would make me part with 350+£. there all remakes or timed exclusive im simply waiting for something more set in stone 

megablast16
megablast16

The only game I've ever pre-orderd is Alien Isolation, and that's only to get the unusually decent pre-order bonus levels. That game apart I've never really seen the need, and I've never not been able to buy a game on launch day due to lack of stock.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

Some games I want to keep indefinitely like Destiny, GTAV and Diablo 3 UEE I am getting all digitized because I don't want to use a disk. If the disk came with a code that allows me to not use the disk after install great but until then.

daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

Preordering games is unnecessary.  Not that many games sell out anymore.

trugs26
trugs26

Oh I see that the Hyrule Warriors exclusive retail DLC has come in now.

chronoschris
chronoschris

How can you be uncertain when the superior console the PS4 is staring you right in the face?  Some people are so damn stupid. 

kingtemplar
kingtemplar

I got burned when I pre order X-Rebirth.  Worse remake ever.  I still pre order but I really check out any info on the net,  Ie I just pre order Shadow of Mordor  after watching a 1 hour live stream of it.  But I cancel my Destiny pre order after trying the beta. But that's my only 2 pre orders this year.  Lot less then before.

thekazumalord
thekazumalord

Hopefully they'll be less and less pre-orders which would ( hopefully) signify that gamers are getting smarter and waiting for reviews before deciding rather or not to buy a game... I know i've never pre-ordered a game, even one i really wanna get.. you only have the publisher and developer's word that a game will be good.. and they'l say anything to get you to give them your money.. I always wait for reviews ( both professional and actual gamers) of a game before deciding if a game is worth buying right away,  if or If i should wait a for a price drop or if I should just avoid the game all together. 

dogman7
dogman7

I don't even understand why publishers and developers look at pre-order numbers. They're never anywhere near final sales numbers. This article proves that...

CaveManCobb
CaveManCobb

So much for "I'm never going to shop at Gamestop.", huh?

Thetmango
Thetmango

I would say a lot of that increased sales is just because of the new console release, when people bought their new console they picked up their games as well while they were at the store, rather than maybe buying them online which they would have otherwise (either through the console or online retailers)


I'm pretty sure as time goes on places like Gamestop will become less and less relevant, regardless of what I'm sure they tell their shareholders. I think most people don't actually care if its a physical copy or a digital copy, and every time that someone preorders a game that turns out to be overhyped garbage, that's one more person who isn't going to preorder again. Besides, the preorder bonuses are usually such minor things it really doesn't matter, usually just a 10 minute mission or a different weapon. 


The only games I preordered were Halo 2 and 3 when I was a kid, and that was for its actual original purpose, to reserve yourself a copy because you knew they were going to sell out, and now it's at the stage where you can preorder stuff on steam, there's not even an illusion of there being limited stock on that, just get your money in before you really know what you're getting and you'll get this shiny extra.

Monsterkillah
Monsterkillah

With DLC etc coming in few weeks after release people will never preorder game anymore

wexorian
wexorian

Sadly for em , even console owners go all digital few by few, 

OuroborosChoked
OuroborosChoked

Hey Bartel!  I've got a few theories of my own:

1. People are finally starting to realize that preorders are a scam and that you'll likely have enough games on the launch date because publishers are getting better at making their games more widely available.

2. The people who were buying into the scam (see #1) are now buying into the scam of digital downloads for consoles instead.

3. People don't have the confidence that they'll be able to spend the rest of the $55 (+ tax) when the game finally releases.


Oh, no... wait... can't be that last one, as game sales are up overall.  Must be one of the first two, then.

cowbellkid
cowbellkid

The first and only game I've preordered was Rome: Total War. It's one of my favorite games and I still play it. The product I got was exactly what was marketed to me. They don't have to make stupid preorder bonuses and false promises to make a profitable game. They just need to make a good game.

Oogazi
Oogazi

What I don't understand is how Gamestop - a dedicated game retailer - can't undercut the prices of larger general retailers like walmart, best buy, target, so forth... There's no real incentive to go to Gamestop (or EB in Canada), except for their 'loyalty program', which isn't that impressive. It works if you're someone into 'trading in', but for many who don't, sometimes, amazon, best buy, walmart will offer better discounts. They could definitely sell games $5-10 less, and offer better loyalty rewards for buying new - at the least, what they're doing is creating a culture of shoppers who will think of going to Gamestop first to buy new games. It might be a better long-term strategy.


On another note, Gamestop really should have gotten into the digital distribution business while Steam was still getting a firm footing. It would've been easier for them (as opposed to valve) to convince publishers to get on board with their platform, then the current state of the industry where every publisher has their own digital distribution platform. Boy, what a different world that would've been.  

xcollector
xcollector

So the stockholders really believe this mumbo jumbo? I know a lot of gamers are dumb for buying at gamespot but I don't think they are stupid enough to be uncertain about which version to get. If you have a last gen system and a current gen system you buy the game for the current gen. If you only have a last gen system you buy it for the last gen system. If you are thinking about getting a current gen system you already probably know by now which one is the best choice for you. Preoders are down because there is nothing worth preordering. How dumb are these stockholders?

imajinn
imajinn

With pre-loading now hitting, we will see how they do. I can't see going there to buy any new games unless you pre-ordered some kind of edition. Of course people will buy for the last gen systems/used games, but I really do not see that for this gen new games.

divinejester
divinejester

There really is no point to pre-order anything other than a handful of Collector editions.

bdrtfm
bdrtfm

I stopped pre-ordering games a long time ago. Too many games that look good end up being crap on release. I'd rather forgo the chance of getting pre-order bonuses and wait for a review or try the game to make sure it's worth the $70 + taxes they now cost in Canada. That's too much money to gamble on a game that may or may not be good.

Martyr77
Martyr77

@Hiraishin  Good choices. I would add Rocksteady Batman games to the list.

Jock9
Jock9

Wow you are a dweeb, I own the PS4 but even I'll say that's uncalled for. I love my PS4 but it doesn't mean it's the best overall, it's the best for me personally while for others it's Xbox One.

TheExxorcist
TheExxorcist

Especially with SSD speeds on the PS4... it trumps disk loading times.

And if you wana get technical the system also uses less power running the SSD alone (instead of reading from a disk and running a HDD simultaneously). It also runs cooler, in term prolonging the life of the system.

mr_nee
mr_nee

@OuroborosChoked I don't see a point in pre-orders. It's not like you go to the shop and there's a scarce of those games... especially digital pre-order.

TheExxorcist
TheExxorcist

Did you ever like Command and Conquer Generals?

kingtemplar
kingtemplar

@Oogazi  Yea steam won, I heard that steam wants to go into TV shows too. (the new Netflix?  games and shows?)

hystavito
hystavito

@divinejester I don't know about other countries, but in Canada there are always pre-order sales with discounts.  The 2 big electronics retailers, Best Buy and Future Shop, run a promo during E3 where all pre-orders are discounted by around 30%.  The rest of the year there are regularly specials where specific games can be pre-ordered for smaller discounts.


Also most stores don't charge anything upfront, no deposit or anything especially with online orders, they just charge your CC when it ships.  The best sale is usually that E3 one I mentioned.  What people do is basically pre-order every game they might have any chance of wanting, and as time passes you can cancel the ones you don't want, or just wait for them to arrive in the mail and then return them in-store.


In Canada, pre-ordering is pretty much a no-brainer, it makes perfect sense and saves money.  It's also the reason why I very rarely buy from GameStop's Canadian equivalent, EB Games, because they almost never have a deal that beats the other stores.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@divinejester Agreed. I'd rather spend extra money on the pre-order bonuses later (that's even if I want it) since most of the time they release it online anyway. That way the developer still gets the money and this pre-order crap doesn't keep getting my support. The only time I pre-order these days is if it's a CE I want and it fits one of these criteria: 


A. I want it the day it comes out.

B. Shipping is to expensive.

C. It's a GameStop exclusive.


Otherwise I'll order it directly from the company or from other online sites. Also, I go in to GameStop and ONLY buy brand new products as to minimally support their business. They don't get a dime from me through trade-ins or buying pre-owned.


I understand that for some, Gamestop is the most reliable local joint to go to...and oftentimes the staff are stand up guys and gals. So THIS is how you can make a difference. Then on the Feedback reports leave positive feedback so the employees still get recognition for being awesome (or terrible) and everybody wins. Except Gamestop.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@straightcur Unfortunately, that's unlikely. It's probably because there isn't a lot to get excited about right now. That and the point about people not being sure as to what console to get is also pretty true too. 


I hope I'm wrong though, and you're right.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@bdrtfm If I absolutely see value in pre-ordering (usually only CEs), then I do the same thing. Wait until reviews come out. The guys at my local store are cool with me so they'll hold my games longer. If it looks like the game is trash...I cancel my pre-order and get something else. Then somebody who DID want the CE gets a happy bonus if they didn't get to pre-order it. If it DOES loo good, then I score. Win-win.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@Jock9  I do think it's best overall but to each their own. Though anyone who bought the original Xbox One should be pitied. I mean that is someone's kid they have to be ashamed of now.


Martyr77
Martyr77

@TheExxorcist  Give me a break. The advantages for digital are slight and you give up your rights to your game. It won't last forever (servers go down eventually) and you can't sell or loan your game out. Digital is for chumps.

cowbellkid
cowbellkid

@TheExxorcist Yeah, I remember reading about it or one of the later versions in a gaming magazine waiting for it to be released.

TheExxorcist
TheExxorcist

Lol... your calling 90% of avid PC gamers chumps.. HDD speed are always better than disk speeds... especially SSDs your not fooling anyone

kingtemplar
kingtemplar

@Martyr77 @TheExxorcist I agree with you, but steam has so many great sales  (2 big ones each year)  I have 250 games on steams and I am glad I don't have 250 boxes in my house.

vegard1985
vegard1985

@kingtemplar I have around 250 games as well; most of them bought during sales. And most of the full-price games I have on Steam were bought in stores (Steamworks, so they bind to the Steam account).