Is It Worth It To Pay Full Price For New Video Games?
I love video games. Video game consoles have been a part of my life since the day I opened an NES for Christmas long ago. But times have changed. I’m quickly approaching my mid-thirties, I have a full time job, a home business, I’m married and we have a three year old girl. So playing video games isn’t as easy as it once was. Waking up Saturday mornings and playing for 8 hours straight just isn’t realistic anymore. (But dammit those were good times nonetheless. Hat tip to Dragon Warrior)
I actually stopped playing for two years because there was simply no time to devote my one of my favorite hobbies. Still, during that period (2014-2016), I followed the video game industry closely. I regularly visit websites, read reviews, watch YouTube and Twitch gaming content and I listen to podcasts every day. (Hat tip to Giant Bombcast, Podcast Unlocked, Playstation Beyond and Kinda Funny for consistently delivering stellar content each week.)
When I finally got around to buying a new console, I went with the Xbox One and immediately started catching up on the big titles I missed. I quickly learned that big AAA games regularly go on sale after their first year on the market. I picked up games like Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor for 20 bucks.
For over a year, I’ve used various gift cards and sales to compile a fairly big library of games. That doesn’t include the titles I’ve downloaded thanks to an Xbox Gold membership. The point is, catching up on video games is actually cheap and I was able to hold off on new games until their prices dropped.
I live in Canada where a new release retails for $79.99. 80 bucks for a game. If you wait for an Xbox Spring and/or Summer sale you could pick up 4 or 5 games for less than that. Needless to say, buying a brand new video game is expensive. So let’s get the obvious argument out of the way.
We live in a world where playing video games even a week behind your friends puts you at a great disadvantage competitively. I get it. People want the latest games NOW. If that wasn’t the case, there wouldn’t be such great incentives to pre-order and BETA test new releases.
I’m not about to say that buying a new game is a complete waste. If you can afford it. The real issue here is what you are ACTUALLY paying for.
CAN YOU WAIT TO PLAY A NEW GAME?
A few weeks ago, I finally gave in and pre-ordrered Mass Effect: Andromeda at full price. I adore the original trilogy and I couldn’t wait to command a new ship and an entirely new cast of characters. Then the reviews hit. Bad facial animations. Glitchy environments, frequent crashes, a thin story… The list goes on. Mass Effect was still given decent reviews. I would argue Andromeda is the most poorly reviewed and criticized 7/10 game in recent memory.
Honestly, the faults are real and it’s not as good as the original trilogy (especially Mass Effect 2) but I didn’t find the issues distracting. It’s still a fun game. But I’m still bitter and it’s the developers fault. After years of planning that included a sizeable delay, the game was seemingly rushed out to beat EA’s fiscal year end. There’s no other reason to launch a game with such obvious technical flaws.
My problem is, there was a patch available within weeks that addressed some of the major issues like facial animations, game balance etc… We were promised that they would support the game and continually make it better and better.
In other words… They shipped an unfinished game. This is the new normal in the video games industry. Games are released with Day 1 patches that are multiple gigabytes and feature a ton of bug fixes. During a game’s first year on the market, we’ll get DLC packs, story missions, more bug fixes, more balancing of the game’s mechanics and systems.
There’s nothing wrong with that. We live in a technologically advanced world where a game can thrive off the feedback of its consumers. Games evolve now. My argument is cost. When I got my Xbox, I bought games on sale. Nearly all of them were ‘definitive/collectors/game of the year/ultimate editions. I paid a quarter of the cost of a full retail game and I got completed projects free of all the launch day server issues, framerate drops and ‘weird’ eyeballs.
I’m at a point in my life where buying a game full price no longer makes sense. I’m not a competitive gamer, I just adore video games. But I’m old enough to play other games while I wait for the prices to drop and the quality to rise.
At this point, the only games I’m truly willing to pay full price for are multiplayer experiences in order to capitalize on the amount of people playing. You could risk wandering into a multiplayer wasteland waiting a year to play a game like Battlefront, Battlefield, Call of Duty or any sports entry.
Where do you stand? Is it better to wait for the end of a game’s update cycle and get it cheaper? Or pay full price and enjoy the rollercoaster ride alongside die-hard fans around the world?