Activision reporting “industry-wide” downturn in pre-orders


By on August 7, 2014 at 1:54 pm

During the same investor call mentioned previously today, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg made some frank points about the current state of game pre-orders.

According to Hirshberg, game pre-orders are on the decline not just with Activision titles, but industry wide. He raised a series of reasons for the trend, such as increased digital consumption particularly on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, a higher general availability of games on launch day, and a decline in demand for last-generation consoles.

Activision is actively investigating other methods for assessing how popular its titles are in the lead-up to launch, using metrics like “purchase intent,” and “awareness.” “It’s important to note that pre-orders are just one data point that we look at when determining the momentum of a franchise,” he said.

These nebulous metrics speak very positively for Destiny, which Hirshberg claims are “at an all-time high and climbing when compared to any other new game intellectual property this distance from launch.”

Source: Eurogamer

18 comments (Leave your own)

He raised a series of reasons for the trend, such as increased digital consumption particularly on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, a higher general availability of games on launch day, and a decline in demand for last-generation consoles.

Oh, how about poorly fucking launched games? Or copious amounts of DLC that gets released only to be a ‘gold’/’goty’ version later?

Far out.


I wonder why this is…


I would like to think consumer view is finally growing more sophisticated after having weathered such debacles as Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem, however the well honed skeptic in me (thanks Gearbox!) remains unconvinced.

Nasty Wet Smear

*Crosses his fingers, closes his eyes, touches some wood (giggity) and says nothing*


Yeah honestly the ridiculous amounts of DLC and future GOTY editions is probably the biggest thing. Why pay ~$50 now for 60% of the game when all this DLC will eventually come out and the entire package will be sold for less than that anyway..? (*Cough* Borderlands; anyone who pre-orders this pre-sequel deserves to be slapped *Cough*)

Going back to releasing playable demos which were actually stock standard back in the day wouldn’t hurt either, why would people blindly pre-purchase sight-unseen without knowing how a game plays/runs/is optimized or not.
Without this buffer, people are going to wait and rely on reviews which inevitably leads us to waiting for sale periods.
I still remember going out to ‘ye olde brick and mortar store and picking up the full version boxed copy of things due to giving the shareware/demo a whirl from the latest PC powerplay magazine ;) Good times.
Baffles me why this has been mostly phased out these days, I can’t think of a better way to generate hype..


While I don’t disagree with the people getting burnt by poor products and the pre-order DLC stuff and it’s effects on pre-ordering, I suspect the article may actually hold some truth to it.

I personally prefer digital products, and can get the exact same product digitally on day one either through steam or PSN, generally for less than a (Australian) pre-order. This also allows me to wait for reviews (as mentioned above) without being inconvenienced, or losing any real value. I don’t really consider pre-order DLC to be all that valuable, especially when it is released afterwards.

Rant aside, and acknowledging that my experience doesn’t represent everyone, it may just be that I’m a little cynical that the ‘general gamer’ is actually savvy given all the yearly iterations of series like Call of Duty, how incredibly popular/mainstream (overpriced) paid DLC has become, and people’s ‘purchase intent’ for untested/proven products (RE: No demos).

Hopefully they take note of what Destiny actually did if they want to see similar results for future products; Created a well crafted/non-glitchy game, and offered a ‘demo’ (beta) to their perspective customers. Honestly, if I didn’t play the beta, I wouldn’t have even looked twice at Destiny. As it stands now, I can’t wait for release.


I still pre order games … when I have faith in the product and/or feel that my enjoyment of the product will decrease the longer the game is out. I.E games like destiny will require pretty early participation to allow me to keep up with friends progress and get maximum enjoyment. Games like The last of us my play experience isn’t going to be diminished by not waiting.


Bait and switch.

Of course the problem is never their stupid practices, the industries standard of trying to rip their customer base off with unfinished products or substandard products, it’s always something the consumer is doing.

Seriously these companies need to take a hard look at what they think is the right thing to do then realise it’s NOT actually.

Companies used to pride themselves on how they treat their customers yet a lot of gaming companies tend to be what they can get away with.


I wonder what the boards thought process was when they decided to appoint a CEO that lives on a different planet?


I don’t think having South Park do an episode/rant on this very topic helped them either heh. At least people are starting to become more aware which is great.


after the butt rape I endured on Aliens Colonial Marines I will never do two things; pre-order and buy any Gearbox (lying assholes) game.



it still hurts every time opening steam and seeing it there taunting me


o noes we might actually have to make a game worthy of pre orders rather then relying on the series name (COD)


It’s a little depressing to hear that Hirshberg won’t even entertain the thought that a number of poorly handled releases and misleading promotion of games have caused at least some of the harm to pre-order sales, as acceptance that you have a problem is the first step towards recovery.

He doesn’t even need to implicate his own company – there’s plenty of other “industry” examples to point to. If publishers started to accept that this was a problem, then you would hope and think that there would be a renewed interest in ensuring that they’re funding quality games development. Or at the very least a renewed focus in QA and testing.

If you’re too ignorant or proud to even admit that your own company is at least partly responsible for the problem, it’s not going to get better any time soon and I’m really happy that gamers have, as many here like to say, “voted with their wallets” on this issue. At least with a decline in the importance of pre-orders as a metric, publishers will presumably expend less effort in trying to inflate those figures through deceptive marketing and unnecessary pre-order ‘bonuses’.



Companies used to pride themselves on how they treat their customers yet a lot of gaming companies tend to be what they can get away with.

It’s far worse than that. They’ll go further than what they can get away with, get caught out, then dissemble, obfuscate and apologise, claim they’ve “learned their lesson” and then get back to the business of doing the same damn thing that ticked us off in the first place, but it’s hopeless because they make CoD or something.

If they were politicians, they’d be out the door in 3 years. *shrug*


Checked the date to make sure it wasn’t April 1st. Either this guy is trolling or he has adopted denial as a marketing technique. There are two key factors at play here: the slowing world economy, and an established trend of game publishers pushing unfinished product on to the market. In short: pre-orders are down because customers no longer have excess income to waste on optimism.


I still preorder EA games. Most of them have betas to play and you can cancel your preorder any time. Then at release after you click the play button for the first time you have 24 hours to get a refund. So if you don’t like the game in the first 24 hours you just get your money back no questions asked. You could have 100 hours on the beta version, and played it for a bit after its release and still get your money back. Its 24 hours after you push play or 7 days after you bought it. Which ever comes first.


These stats would also be a bit skewed.

Obviously with the raise in prevalence of the Digital purchasing catching up on Console (seems the norm now with PC), Microsoft (the XBox One in particular) currently at the moment do not support pre-ordering for digital titles, rumored to be due to security problems around delivering and registration of pre-order keys.

So while this may sound like it would not contribute much, according to sales of digital titles accounted for 48% of all sold games as of March 2013 and was up by 33% on the same time the year before, and was projected at maintaining that rate into this year.

So when one of the major Console players don’t even allow pre-ordering for the most consumed medium in the industry, the stats would obviously reflect that.


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