Germany Has Banned Pre-Orders for Vague Release Dates and That’s Good!

Pretty much anywhere in the world, regardless of whether a videogame has a confirmed release date or not, you can place a pre-order. Unlike back in the day, such as during the PS1 era, if you did not pre-order a game ahead of release, there was a good chance that you wouldn’t get that game on release day, especially if it was from a popular gaming series. However now, we rarely hear of that happening, although Nintendo has recently underestimated demand on titles such as Octopath Traveller.

For me personally, unless it’s a collector’s edition that I really want, that I know stands a good chance of selling out, I won’t bother to pre-order. Although digital stock will never run out, I can also understand the need to pre-download, but even then, it’s perhaps worth holding out at least a day prior to release to see what the reviews are saying.

Over here in the UK, it’s rare that money is taken at the time of the pre-order, although some retailers do require that, and places such as might request a deposit on expensive items. Most digital pre-orders also take your money at the time of the order, including in the UK. However, in other countries, taking money at the time of the pre-order online or in person is standard, regardless of whether that videogame has a confirmed release date or not, and it’s looks like the folks in Germany are leading the way in stopping that from being the standard practice.

A consumer protection group in Germany (as revealed by Heise), have banned retailers from taking pre-orders on vague, “TBC” or “Coming Soon” release dates, and they have been backed by the Higher Regional Court of Munich ruling. So unless a game in question has a confirmed release date, a pre-order for that title cannot be taken in Germany.

However, this ruling is not just related to videogames, but all products as the origins of this ruling comes as a result of German retailer, Media Markt taking pre-orders on the Samsung Galaxy S6 in August 2016. The CEO of Düsseldorf Consumer, Wolfgang Schuldzinski said on the ruling “When consumers order goods on the internet, providers must specify by when the goods are delivered.”

It will be interesting to see if this ruling starts to make its way to other countries and continents, because let’s face it, pre-order numbers nowadays only really exists to satisfy big company fat-cat executives and it’s wrong for some retailers to expect a customer to part with cash just to put their name down for a game that doesn’t even have a release date yet or may even never release if that game gets cancelled.

I believe that this ruling in Germany is a good thing, but knowing how some companies will work, they’ll probably get around it be asking consumers to “register an interest” with an email address, rather than taking a direct order on the product, we shall see. But what do you think of this ruling in Germany? Do you think it’s a lot of fuss over nothing or are you glad that this step has been taken? Let us know across our social media channels.