Modern Warfare 2: Abundant and Available
So I've been thinking about fulfilling my duties as a game journalist and buying Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, even though my plate is pretty full at the moment (I'm deep into Demon's Souls, if you're wondering).
One potential snag: Modern Warfare 2 is, at least according to GameStop, "the biggest entertainment launch of all time." I wondered if all the people who pre-ordered the game or hit up a midnight launch Sunday night hogged all the copies. Would my lack of early commitment be a problem? Not in my neck of the woods.
The three closest GameStops to my apartment in Venice, California, all said I could grab a copy for Playstation 3 or Xbox 360, no problem. One employee even answered the phone by saying, "Thank you for calling GameStop ... where we have Modern Warfare 2 in stock." Best Buy's Web site also listed the game as available for in-store pickup at my three nearest locations.
So, why pre-order? Certainly, it's useful for big hardware launches and limited edition bundles (such as Modern Warfare 2's night vision-equipped Prestige Edition), but I don't remember the last time I couldn't find a game anywhere because I didn't order in advance.
Increasingly, pre-ordering is about locking you into a purchase instead of a rental, and this is often accomplished with swag or in-game goodies. For instance, if you pre-order the upcoming Mass Effect 2, you get a special suit of armor to wear in the game. If you pre-order Left 4 Dead 2, you get to play the demo as an appetizer.
Modern Warfare 2 didn't have any great pre-order bonuses. A reservation with GameStop, lets you get $40 back if you trade the game in by December 13, but that's hardly enough time to play the single -player campaign and sink into the game's multiplayer.
My point is, next time you buy something from GameStop, and the clerk offers you a pre-order on some title that's two months away, see what incentives they're putting on the table. If they don't excite you, relax. You'll still be able to get a copy on launch day.