Not Available at your Local GameStop

As a gamer with peculiar tastes, if there’s one thing I understand it’s the logistics of the preorder. Sure, some people will cry bloody murder about it. Preordering hands your money to a retailer early. Some people forget about their preorders and the retailer can just pocket the change. Furthermore it almost guarantees a sale for that store, preventing you from shopping elsewhere. I have heard these arguments before.

However, look at it from the other perspective. You want a game that hasn’t seen a lot of publicity. Most stores would assume that this is a title that wouldn’t be in high demand. As such, they only get a few copies in stock. It’s also not prioritized so it may show up a week late. Not that it would make a difference as it seems not many people are that interested in the game.

But, if you preorder, it guarantees a sale once the title comes in. As such it is flagged in the system and prioritized. Now that store should get at least one copy in on time. But more than that, it shows that there is a greater interest in the title than originally anticipated. If one or two people preorder, that means that there might be one or two more walk-ins than expected as well. As such, more titles overall are shipped to that store.

Honestly, this is a good system and helps ensure that the right quantities of titles are shipped to the right stores. Yes it practically locks your purchase to a single store. But, if that store is the closest one to you anyway? Who cares!

There’s just one problem: games that can’t be preordered. These are known as C-List or D-List titles. Games deemed so unimportant that you can’t even preorder them.

This is a problem. With C-List titles if they aren’t preordered, they aren’t shipped. But C-List titles can’t be preordered. So they can’t be shipped. So they can’t ever get to the store and they never sell.

At first glance, you’d think they were just passed over. After all, there are a lot of games coming out these days so it’s perfectly plausible that someone would miss one or two of them, right? However, this is GameStop we’re talking about, the single largest video game retailer in America! Sure Best Buy might miss one or two, but when your company is devoted entirely to video game sales? Someone should be on that. Considering I can find them on GameFAQs and other sites, I should be able to find them in the GameStop listings.

This is further proven by the fact that some of these titles actually are in the system. They just don’t appear on the list of preorderables for one reason or another. Let’s not even get into the fact that some GameStop Exclusives have been unpreorderable!

This is hardly a new phenomenon. $20 titles are regularly passed over by GameStop’s computers. I guess they’re just not worth it as it’s such a small sale, but it still annoys me. Commando: Steel Disaster, Black Sigil, Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ, and Animal Boxing are all examples of titles in the past that one could not preorder.

However, as time goes by, bigger and bigger titles are slipping past the preorder list. The first one to really shock me was Way of the Samurai 3. A full priced XBox 360 title and part of a decently recognizable series. The official GameStop website listed it. Heck, there was even a special preorder bonus if you preordered from! But the stores themselves just did not list it.

Now they have officially crossed the line. Why? Because Monster Rancher DS is the latest game that cannot be preordered.

It’s a wallbanger of epic proportions. Monster Rancher is a well known and decently successful series. The DS entry is looking to be a well made and impeccably polished game for the system. It even has online play! Yet GameStop has decided not to allow any preorders of it.

I could, of course, go on about how odd this all is. For a company so obsessed with preorders to just randomly not allow them on certain titles is odd. I could also talk about how face punchingly annoying it is when, after asking if the game is in stock, the clerk then says “You should have preordered!”. However, every GameStop in the area has learned better by now. Yes, this has happened frequently enough that I have personally bitched out just about every single GameStop employee within a 100 mile radius of my house. I try to be nice though because I know their pain. I used to work there.

However, let’s look at this from the game company’s perspective. You have just spent years making and/or translating a game. You’re out of cash and can’t do much advertising, but your confident that good word of mouth will cause the game to sell well enough for you to turn a profit. Unfortunately, GameStop is about the only retailer that would carry such an obscure game and they have opted not to allow preorders on it. Meaning, again, that it either won’t ship or will ship late and in incredibly limited quantities. This means most people, even if they want to play your game, won’t be able to. No word of mouth, no sales, and a big loss for your company.

This is, of course, when people start talking about how downloads are the future. However, that is a story for another time.

Still, think about how this will affect the poor Monster Rancher series! It’s bad enough it has to go toe to toe with Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver; but this blatant mistreatment of the title ensures a complete lack of sales and it won’t be able to compete. Monster Rancher has already had a rocky sales history in America and with this as well as the recent Koei merger, it’s future does not look bright.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are not enough words in the English language to describe what a damn shame it would be if we lost the Monster Rancher series. Easily the deepest and most technical monster training simulation out there, it stands head and shoulders above it’s competition in terms of gameplay. Monster Rancher 4 is one of the very few games ever made that I would honestly give a perfect score to as it was just that good. No other game has even come close to that level of depth in their monster training. Not even Pokemon.

So, what can we do? The heck if I know! However, whatever jackass runs GameStop is in serious need of a punch in the jaw.

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