The trick is, to paraphrase from Jerry Seinfeld, is to deliver on the preorders. I was at my local Gamestop the other day, and asked them what the window was for preordering LEGO Batman 2. I was somewhat surprised that the window was from now until the day before the game's release on June 19, but it's been a while since I preordered anything. Off the top of my head, I'm going to say that the last time I preordered a game it was Tekken 4 and even though it was a total nightmare and shipped late because of some dockworker's strike someplace I still got my T-Shirt as a preorder bonus.
I suppose LEGO Batman 2 is not the sort of game that is going to sell completely out on the first day, but one of the preorder bonuses is a Lex Luthor minifig. I assume that the sort of people that are still willing to play the LEGO videogames are LEGO nuts like my older child, and the prospect of getting an actual LEGO figure along with the game is pretty awesome to them. My concern is that the number of preorders and what the store may receive in terms of promotional items won't necessarily match up, and some of the people that preorder will get shortchanged. I base this on the fact that there isn't quite enough time to react if there is increased demand in the week right before the game is released. Of course, the game is probably out the door a little early so that the retailer already has it hand, and they will probably know if too many orders stack up at the last minute and start trying to get copies from stores that had less demand for that particular title. But, in my mind, the concept of a preorder is exactly what the name implies - people put money down to reserve a copy so that a retailer knows how many copies to bring in from the vendor once the game is available, and that necessarily involves cutting off that preorder window at least a week before the game is out. If you didn't preorder, you would genuinely risk not getting a copy until the store got more copies in. Back when games shipped on cartridges, perhaps that was probably a more important consideration than it is now, but since we're still getting physical copies (for now) it's not like the shipping part of it is going to be any different.
There are parts of the preorder game that are radically different now, of course. If you have an XBox360 or a PS3, depending on who you preorder from you can get either five extra villain characters (Bizzaro, Captain Cold, Black Adam, Black Manta, and Gorilla Grodd from Gamestop/EB) or five extra hero characters (Nightwing, Shazam, Katana, Zatanna, and Damian Wayne from Best Buy). They just send you an email code for you to download, but of of course you couldn't have it both ways for a reasonable price. There's no way to know if those characters would be available later as DLC, and none of these characters would be available for the Wii at all since the Wii still doesn't have any way to do DLC. Why should I care about extra LEGO characters on the Wii version? Because Wii owners are part of the core LEGO audience, that's why. How do I know this?
Because LEGO licensed an official Wii remote.
So I ended up reading Kotaku later, and I got even more cranky about the whole preorder thing by reading an article that suggested that we stop preordering altogether. I wasn't ready to go that far, but they do have some good points. I'd just like to get some reasonableness back to the situation - although I hear that's an unreasonable position these days.