A while ago, I pre-ordered the new Need for Speed game: Most Wanted. I received the following email recently:
My pre-order is available for pre-loading. Pre-loading!? Is this like pre-boarding a plane? Am I being Punk'd? Sorta. Basically, "pre-loading" means that you can download the software and have it ready to run on the official release date. The software is locked until the publisher releases the software for you to use.
Really?? In today's world of electronic delivery, why do we even have specified release dates anymore? If I can download the software, then it's ready. Why put some artificial "hold" on it in the first place? Oh, because people buying it in the store will have a disadvantage? Well, duh. Here's the problem I have with in-store purchasing these days: It doesn't matter.
That's right, if you buy software in the store, there is a VERY good chance that you will have to download a full-length update to the game anyway. So, why bother buying it? When I got Battlefield 3 as a gift, I loaded all 8 Gigs of it, then had to wait as the game was updated from the 'Net anyway. The physical media provided me NOTHING. Don't get me wrong: I absolutely **HATE** this change in software delivery. If I choose to buy the media, I should be able to use it right out of the box. For several years that was how things worked. Not anymore. So, why bother?
And, because electronic delivery is essentially the only way to get software now, then why bother with "pre-loading?" Once I download it, let me play it. All the hype and hoopla over release dates is manufactured. It is time to put it to bed. Release the game. If someone pre-orders and they can download it, then they've got it. Period. If there are hard-copy versions available to buy in the store, then let people buy it, install it, and run it. Since they will have to download a full-version update anyway, there is no benefit to making the electronic-delivery purchasers wait for some made-up "release date."
Now that I've had my chance to rant, I'll go pre-load my pre-order. Should take about 8 hours on our CenturyStinks 1.5mb DSL... Yeah, that's right. The fastest speed we have here is 1.5mb. Welcome to the reality of "broadband" in rural America.