Surely by definition anything you pay for before the release date is a pre-order? There may be a very low financial risk with pre-ordering anything that Stern has announced but it is still a pre-order.
Do we get a chance to play before you pay? If not then we are taking a huge risk on game play. I pre-order GOT on the announcement day and then cancelled upon seeing the artwork. Suspect I'll still get one eventually but will want to play it more first.
Stern fully licencing games? My Walking Dead sound clips might suggest otherwise. Similarly pre-ordered a ltd version largely because there was no announced premium.
What about the coders? People change jobs, people retire, have problems in their personal lives and even die unexpectedly. In this situation would a manufacturer still stand by coding their existing games to the same degree or move onto the next one? Can you even imagine the cock up that a change of coders at JJP would make to the Hobbit coding? We pretty much take a leap of faith on new games having code developed over time.
Fires at the factory? Would Stern continue or cash in on the insurance?
Distros - a quick look at the fuck ups with MMr and JJP, Ministry of Pinball and the bunch of crooks inn Australia might make this look a little less secure.
Not saying that any of this is going to happen with GBLE just that in any situation when you have to pay for a product before it's fully ready there are risks. As pinball buyers we seem to pretty casual about the risks we take on. Sometimes if you sit back and think about what we do it's quite staggering.
Dealing with a lying meth head in a basement does significantly increase the risks though......