Is it really worth it? I mean, REALLY worth it?
A video game is released, and you buy it day one. Why? Maybe you’re a huge fan of the series and need to play it as soon as it comes out. Or, maybe you’ve been looking forward to this game for months and the first opportunity you have to play it, you want to take advantage of it.
Or, sometimes you buy the game, simply because it’s new. And you want to play it, eventually. At least, that’s your intention. And you will play it. After you finally play the last game you bought.
And the one before that.
Come to think of it…there’s a lot of games that you’ve bought, brand new, that you still haven’t played. So why are you buying new games? And why are you buying at launch?
Okay, yes, I’m asking a lot of questions here. But it certainly seems to be a difficult balance a lot of gamers struggle with. Raise your hand if you’re a gamer that suffers from a huge backlog of games.
I’m sure I’d see a LOT of hands.
It’s always amazed me how we, as gamers, continue to purchase game after game when we have more than enough to last multiple lifetimes, let alone one. It may be that we buy a game, play it an hour or two, and decide it hasn’t quite caught our attention or that it’s just really not that good.
Either way, there’s many different reasons why we buy games by the boatload.
But why? And knowing we have so many games sitting on the shelf, why are we buying brand new ones?
Recently, Bethesda made news by stating that they were going to continue moving forward with the practice of providing review copies to media outlets and reviewers alike, the day before launch. They felt that early reviews had next-to-no impact on sales of their titles (see: Doom) and that stance certainly did not sit well with many folks.
The response to such a statement has prompted many to say, “Stop buying games at launch. That’ll show ‘em!”, referring to the idea that companies will continue to lose sales without the tried and tested idea that early reviews can make or break games to fly off the shelves.
That’s a conversation unto itself, and one that I certainly won’t be getting into here. I’ve got another reason for you not to buy games at launch, and it has nothing to do with showing game companies ‘what for’.
My sole reason for this idea is simple. It’s to save you money.
Go take a look at your collection of games. Whether it’s on a shelf in your games room (or gaming area) or in your digital library of games on your console or steam software…there’s probably a good number of games you’ve never played.
Why is that?
I think it’s because we get caught up in owning as many games as possible. For collectors, it’s just owning everything and anything you can get your hands on. And of course, the idea is that you actually intend to play all of these games at some point.
How likely is that, though?
I’ll speak for myself here. When I was a very active game collector (I’ve since ‘retired’) I used to buy everything and anything to add it into my collection, just for the sake of adding. I wanted my shelves to overflow and couldn’t wait to have that ‘shelf appeal’, showcasing my impressive library of games. Because of that, I owned so many games that (to this day) I’ve yet to ever play. This applied mainly to older ‘retro’ games, but the idea of collecting for the sake of collecting started spewing into modern day game collecting as well.
You know those older games that were released, but didn’t really sell well? Because of that, they were yanked from shelves and didn’t have much distribution. Or, think of all the games that were released in a console’s library near the end of it’s active lifespan. Unknown, or in short supply. And what happened to these games, all those years later?
They became “collectibles”, and got expensive.
For whatever reason, a lot of these games were overlooked, so if you didn’t play them when they were released, you may have missed out on a really good game. Fast forward to 2016, and some of those games are highly sought after and sell for a pretty penny.
Hence, why I started buying modern games in the same way.
I took a ‘Surprise at Dinosaur Peak’ approach to buying games. I didn’t want to miss games being released in a console’s history, passing on something I thought would be fun to play, but passed on it for whatever reason. I decided that if I wanted to play it, even if it was in the future, I would buy it now rather than waiting until it became a ‘hidden gem’ with a ridiculous price tag.
Turns out there was a huge flaw in this approach.
Aside from the obvious of this being a completely stupid thing to do, it certainly cost me some serious dollars over the past couple of years. Allow me to explain…
Having never really played Ocarina of Time for the N64, despite owning it for many years, I thought I would pick up the 3DS release of both it and Majora’s Mask. I read that both 3DS versions improved on the originals ever-so-slightly, so I thought I would grab them while they were available.
I bought both at full pop, and have yet to play either. Turns out I might as well have waited, because Ocarina of Time is now part of the Nintendo Selects lineup of games, and I could’ve saved myself some money there.
I also bought Child of Light for the Wii U at full price. Not that it was an overly expensive game, but after reading reviews of how great it was, I decided to buy it. My intention was to play it following the playthrough of another game. Well…that playthrough lasted a long time, and then I got distracted playing another game. By the time I got around to playing Child of Light, it had been reduced in price significantly, and sold for much less. Had I waited, I could’ve saved a lot.
The following are games that I paid for full price, but have yet to play (or even take off the plastic wrap):
A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
Shin Megami Tensai IV (3DS)
Yoshi’s Wooly World (Wii U)
Kirby and The Rainbow Curse (Wii U)
Zombi U (Wii U)
Persona 4 Golden (PS Vita)
Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remastered (PS3 AND PS Vita)
There are more than that, but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
It’s ludicrous that I would pay for that many games and to this point, not have played any of them. And there are some great titles there! That’s why I bought them! I wanted to play them all, but decided to hold off until I finished the game I was playing at the time. So why did I buy them?
“Just in case”.
Just in case they had a short shelf life. Just in case they were sold out and never restocked. Just in case…well…just in case.
With the sales I’ve seen since I bought all of those games, I could’ve saved a couple hundred dollars, easily. It’s stupid.
The other thing that I failed to consider was how much easier it is to purchase these games than it used to be. As long as the supply is plentiful, it’s so much easier to find video games today than it used to be, making it far easier to pick up any game that you may have missed out on. That doesn’t always mean it’s not expensive, but at least there appear to be greater options in terms of supply and demand.
It doesn’t take long for new games to see a price break a couple of months after being released. In fact, it’s quite a common occurrence. Sure, unless Nintendo offers up games under the ‘Selects’ banner, they don’t tend to come down in price too often, especially first party games.
But for the rest?
Unless you really, really want to play a game at launch and are okay forking out the $70 or $80 to play it the first week, don’t. Wait for these games to go on sale. It won’t take long, and you’ll have more money to spend on even more games.
More games that can sit on your shelf. More games that you probably could’ve added for even less.