The Inevitable Rise of the VR Pre-order

The ability to pre-order videogames has seemingly been around forever. The idea is that developers and publishers offer a tantalising cherry – a small discount or exclusive in-game merch, for example – to attract gamers while getting guaranteed sales before launch. We’ve all done it, my most recent being The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. However, while the standard videogame industry takes pre-orders to ever more ludicrous highs, VR is only just getting on the pre-order bandwagon.

Rise of the VR Pre-order

Back in the early years of VR’s gaming resurgence – the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive era – there was not a pre-order to be found. Developers launched a game and hoped it would sell to the niche number of early VR adopters out there. Even PSVR, running on Sony’s PS4, didn’t adopt the pre-order methodology. As VR evolved and matured, Meta’s Quest line of headsets created a far wider console-like ecosystem, slowly ushering in the VR pre-order world we have today.

VR Pre-order Quest

You only have to look at Meta Quest’s ‘Coming Soon’ page to see what I mean. There are currently 20 games listed on that particular page, over half of which can be pre-ordered. Even a year ago that would’ve been unheard of. It’s great that there are so many games due for release on that one particular platform, but the thirst for pre-ordering is getting ridiculous.

On a pre-order Quest

Most tend to offer a basic 10% discount like Bulletstorm VR and Stranger Things VR. Then you have the likes of Asgard’s Wrath 2. Billed as one of the big, premium AAA VR games for this winter, there’s no discount. Instead, the pre-order allure is created by providing an exclusive in-game weapon and armour set. Plus you also get the original Asgard’s Wrath for PC. If you’ve already upgraded to Meta Quest 3, you won’t care as you’ll get the sequel for free, of course.

As these are all digital deals, you don’t get the sheer expense of some of the physical pre-orders the videogame industry doles out. PSVR 2 would be the only VR headset that could or would be able to provide a disc-based offer. Yet, there aren’t any – that I know of. Maybe the user base is too small?

It’ll happen eventually though, across all of the VR gaming landscape. The inevitability can be seen in the myriad of pre-orders available now. The question is, is it a good thing? And does it help build a player base in the early days? Or is it simply a quick cash grab to aid development? Without naming names, several titles this year arrived that needed more time.

How many of you do pre-order VR games? I’d like to know. Drop your last pre-ordered game in the comments.