There was a time when video game stores had us all convinced that if we didn't preorder a game we would never be able to play it for the rest of our lives. There was such urgency behind a GameStop employee's insistence that I preorder a game, I wondered if his only food source was store copies of preorder receipts.
That urgency served a purpose at one point. Preorders were for people who wanted to ensure they could play a game on release day. No more calling every store in the tri-county area to see if a game was in stock -- preorders allowed you to walk into a place knowing a copy was waiting behind the counter because you ordered it 17 months ago when Electronic Gaming Monthly reported unsubstantiated rumors of its development, so GameStop immediately started selling a product that didn't exist yet.
"Give me $60 and you'll get a bundle of UNLIMITED POTENTIAL."
I remember trying to buy Halo 3 from GameStop on the morning of its release. On big release days, GameStop has only enough copies to cover preorders. Walk-in buyers, like me, walked right back out empty-handed. So I went to the Best Buy up the road, where I found so many copies I could have Scrooge McDuck-dived into a pool of Halo 3s. That's when I got my first whiff of the bullshit behind preordering.