Not too long ago we reported that Amazon had temporarily made Red Dead Redemption 2 pre-orders unavailable on the PlayStation 4. This was due to Amazon exhausting their allocation of physical game discs. Earlier this week however, the pre-orders were made available again on both platforms, meaning Amazon got another batch of allotments.
This rapid rate of pre-orders proves that Red Dead Redemption 2 not only appears to be selling extremely well, but that Rockstar and Sony’s partnership seems to be working.
The original story caused a bit of confusion among people who did not understand the process of pre-selling physical copies of games via 3rd party retailers like Amazon. Very few amongst the sea of commenters asking “How could an unfinished game sell out? The publishers will simply order enough copies to be printed for distribution…” had a proper grasp of allotment sales.
Amazon itself “pre-ordered” a given quantity (allocation) of copies to be put up for pre-order, and excited gamers bought them all up, hence the PS4 version “going out of stock”. All it meant was that Amazon had already sold all the copies of Red Dead Redemption 2 it had on manifest and needed to secure another batch.
What it really means though is that a ton of people are buying Red Dead Redemption 2.
Of course, a story like this sparked a new battle in the on-going console war, as fans took this as a “win” for the PlayStation 4 somehow. Truthfully, we don’t know whether the allotments were equal for the two consoles – maybe Amazon had a larger pool of Xbox One copies to pre-sell and they’ve just not run out yet. It’s also important to remember that Amazon isn’t typically the go-to site for video games, so who knows if more Xbox One players just bought the game somewhere else.
The only possible reason to get irritated about this situation relates to the pre-order culture that has grabbed hold of the AAA industry. Pre-selling games has nothing to do with stock – digital copies never run out, obviously, and physicals can just be restocked. Pre-selling is first and foremost a financial decision, a way for publishers to break out of the three-red-one-black loop. The aforementioned “loop” refers to the cycle wherein consumer product companies end three of their four financial quarters with a loss, with the final (fourth) quarter expected to make up for it all. Pre-orders are a way to spread out revenue intake across the months preceding release, instead of having everything come in at launch.
Thing is, this gives developers some leeway in terms of quality. If you pre-order a game and they slap a review embargo on it lasting until launch, no-one will know what the actual product is like until it’s too late to cancel. Unfortunately, many games have turned out to be let-downs, getting panned by critics, while still being profitable due to pre-order. With no Collector’s Edition or pre-order bonuses announced for Red Dead Redemption 2 just yet (heck, all we have is the announcement trailer!), you definitely can’t say they Rockstar has been fuelling this type of behavior at all. And in any event, many players opposed to pre-orders still consider RDR2 a day-one buy.
In other news related to Amazon, an odd, albeit thin rumor cropped up recently regarding the widespread worry that Red Dead Redemption 2 may be delayed. Several people who have pre-ordered were recently notified that their order has been delayed to the first of January, 2018. Amazon previously listed the release date of the game as December 31st, which was clearly a placeholder.
Now, this could be just a random placeholder change, however the placeholders usually conform to the projected year of release provided by the publishers, even if an exact date isn’t public yet. And why bother moving the placeholder just one day back? Then again, placeholder dates have been known to act strangely within inventory and sales systems and move around wildly, so it’s hardly concrete evidence of anything.
Only time, and some official information from Rockstar Games, will tell.