Occasional thoughts on diverse subjects

Do not open until release date

By Dave Menendez
Monday, June 10, 2019, at 3:44 PM

Summary: Automatically downloading pre-ordered games makes technical sense, but it’s frustrating to have something and not be able to use it.

It’s usually a bad idea to pre-order video games, since you are buying something without any real way of knowing whether it’s any good, but Super Mario Maker 2 seems like a safe enough bet that I went ahead and did it. I had vaguely recalled that the Switch (and other consoles, I assume) will pre-download pre-ordered games so that you have them ready the minute they're released. This makes a lot of sense, since otherwise you would get a crush of people trying to download the game all at the same time.1

What I did not expect was for the Switch to put Super Mario Maker 2 right there in the console menu. It hasn’t been released yet, so you can’t open it. It just sits there, saying “Yeah, I’m already on your machine, but you can’t play me until Nintendo says so.”

Again, I can see the logic here. The main menu on the Switch is also how you manage software, so you wouldn’t be able to delete it or move it to external storage if it didn’t have an icon. That’s fine. It just feels like having an unwrapped Christmas present sitting under the tree.

Actually, that might be a good idea for Nintendo: if a game is downloaded on the Switch, but not yet released, draw a ribbon or something over the icon. That gives you a way to manage the software, provides a visual cue that it isn’t available yet, and adds a nice festive air.

  1. There is the issue of day-one patches, where you get the game and immediately have to download an update before you can actually play it, but it’s certainly possible to minimize or even eliminate that.