Seriously, what are you thinking?
Publishers have a bag of tricks planned to try to get to you to pre-order the games they're showing at E3. There will be many different editions of each game, complete with different combinations of digital and physical goodies. There will be breathless statements about limited quantities and the exclusive nature of plastic trinkets. The show will be built around a false sense of urgency making it feel as if you must act now.
We’re likely to see a lot of deals where you’re guaranteed beta access, but many of those betas will be fully open for everyone who wants to try the game for at least a bit of time before they're over. And it's important to remember that betas aren’t demos, even though the modern beta is a powerful marketing tool.
Here are a few other things I know for a fact about this year's E3: That game with the beautiful "live" demo? It doesn’t look that good. That sequel to your favorite first-person shooter that’s coming in a year? The servers aren't going to hold up at launch. That ambitious open-world game using that super new technology to do the thing? It’s going to be delayed. At least one game you see this week is likely to be canceled entirely. There’s probably going to be some sort of bullshit with a Kickstarter at some point in this process. I could go on and on.
What games correspond with each prediction? I have no way of knowing! And neither do you, which is why pre-ordering games is such a lopsided proposition: There's barely any upside for the players, but the publishers love the idea they can count on your money.
And scarcity doesn’t really exist in 2016. No one will run out of copies of their game, and many of these titles won’t be out for months, if not years. The bonuses are unlikely to be truly limited to this week, so don’t let the bullshit blind you. There’s no reason to put money down on games that are announced this week.
But the publishers want your money now, and they're going to fight to get it. They want you to lock yourself into a purchase of a game that may or may not be reflected in the marketing materials released this week. That's why so much work will go into making it seem like you have to get out your wallet now, that the promised deal or limited promotion is just too good to pass up.
Scarcity doesn’t really exist in 2016
You’ll always be able to buy with more knowledge of the game and its performance if you wait, and it's always safer to only buy a game after you’ve read the reviews or even just the forum posts after it’s been released. It’s never hurt anyone to wait to make sure an online game is fully functional before putting your money down.
E3, as a marketing event, is there to try to get you to part with your money in amounts that are as high as possible with timing that’s as early as possible. Don't fall for it.