Did you get your Xbox Series X preorder placed last week? Or did you wait patiently, repeatedly adding one to your cart until the website was out of stock? If you fell into the prior scenario, congratulations. Either you have some insider capabilities, a fast internet connection, or got incredibly lucky. For many gamers, hours upon hours of agony ensued. Popular video game deal tweeter Wario 64 tweets that Amazon has some available! But you try and the page will not load. You see screenshots of order confirmations with comments to keep trying and you will eventually get through. But alas, most of us were not that lucky.
But this isn’t a new phenomena. For the last two decades video game console releases have been inexplicably challenging for those attempting to secure one on Day 1. Perhaps this is a good thing for Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Maybe they see this as creating artificial demand? I mean, if you want something but can’t have it, that makes you want it more, right? Yes and no. While I am eager to get my hands on one, I have decided to forgo an Xbox Series X preorder.
For me the reason is two-fold; I am currently unemployed and still haven’t upgraded to a 4K TV. Yes, there are people like me still rocking televisions from the early 2010’s! But beyond that, Microsoft has made the need for me to get a Series X on Day 1 unnecessary. Most of the games coming out in the short-term will be backwards compatible on the Series X. Additionally, all first-party games, and select EA & Bethesda games will keep me entertained on my Xbox One through Game Pass. For me, this is Microsoft signaling a transition to the way we think about preorders in the future.
3 Tactics To Fix Console Preorders
So what will it take to reduce the chaos, and ensure everyone who wants a Xbox, Playstation, or Nintendo console gets one in a reasonable timeframe? I have three recommendations for console developers to consider for the next generation. This of course assumes we will still have physical consoles in our homes by then.
Lower The Need For Day 1 Purchase
This may seem counterintuitive, but the first thing to consider is taking a softer approach to the next-gen transition. Microsoft is using this approach currently, and while the sales numbers are yet to be seen, this is a plus for gamers. Some players will still want to jump in on Day 1, even if the only thing changing about a new console is the color and storage size. But by lowering the number of people who insist on Day 1 preorders, console developers can fulfill more preorders and not leave gamers disappointed when their console order is inevitably delayed.
By making games backwards and forwards compatible, the need for Day 1 purchase lowers for many. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Companies can slowly disable features of the old console over the first six months to a year and spread out demand. And by launching new features over time, it keeps a console relevant and ever-improving.
Staggered Launch Schedules & Purchase Bonuses
Speaking of spreading out demand, what if the next generation of consoles had multiple release days? While building anticipation for one specific day has always been the approach, having three or four release dates could produce that much more anticipation. You didn’t get the new Xbox on the first release cycle? No worries, in 60 days the second launch day transpires and those who purchase during this cycle get a free controller.
Not only does this incentivize gamers to consider waiting, but it also spreads manufacturing cycles and revenue for the developers. Plus imagine the hype counting down to multiple launch days over a six month period. This guarantees the console is in the news well beyond the “original Day 1” too.
Gamertag Dependent Preorders
The third and final suggestion I have to improve console preorders is a herculean one, but would help prevent resellers from sucking up consoles. A requirement to preorder a console should be an active gamertag. But not just any gamertag, as it’s way too easy to create a bunch of dummy accounts. Require one with a minimum of one year and/or 100 hours of gameplay across all games. This ensures people aren’t log jamming the system and purchasing 10 consoles to resell nine of them.
As I mentioned, this would be no easy feat. They can probably get this gamertag data fairly easy, but console developers would need to take all the preorders in-house. The benefit to this is they would have a better idea of the demand and reduce their revenue share with retailers. This also is great for the gamer, as it gives them one place to preorder from instead of eight. Taking conventional retailers out of the preorder equation may seem like a mistake, but developers could still partner with them to provide consoles for general sale on or after launch day.
The second part to this would be to ensure those people who preordered consoles on the first launch cycle were blocked from ordering on the second cycle. This would continue until preorder launch cycles ceased, and the console was just available to the general public.
The Bottom Line
There is no easy answer to improve console preorders. Unfortunately, most of the suggestions above would probably be frowned upon by the Microsofts of the world. Why? Because money talks and bulls**t walks. While game companies say they are about the consumer, they are really all about their stock price. And regardless of whether they are going to gamers straightaway or through resale, more sales upfront lead to a healthier bottom line.
Having a tough time deciding whether to upgrade to the Series X/S or keep your Xbox One? We’ve thought through the decision for you here. Also be sure to head over to our forum and let us know what you decide!