by C.T. Hutt
For gamers with gainful employment and bills to pay, the fiscal impact of our favored hobby is significant. Consoles aren’t cheap and the television, sound system, and extra controllers that go along with them come at a premium; this is to say nothing about the resulting electricity bills or the cost of the games themselves. Unlike Mario, we can’t just pound our heads against brick walls until gold comes out of the stones, we work for our GPs and we work hard. Finding a good deal on games is an important consideration for savvy gamers, but doing so is complicated by the rise of digital distribution services, the popularity of DLC, and games which are released for multiple platforms. Assuming the experience is more or less uniform, why would a person pay more to play a game on their XBox when they could pay less for the same experience on a computer? Sales at brick-and-mortar stores like Gamestop and online promotions only add additional layers of confusion to the debacle. No matter how convoluted the algorithm may be to find the best price on a game there is only one rule that you always need to remember: the closer you are to the release date, the higher the price will be. So why does anyone buy a game on its release date?
Unlike movies, which are only in theatres for a short while, video games provide the same experience whether played in six months or this very afternoon. To people who don’t game, it probably seems that the only reason we pay extra to possess games immediately is because we either have poor impulse control or run some kind of blog that analyzes contemporary video games (which is really just an excuse for poor impulse control).
Price aside, there are a variety of other reasons to wait a few months to purchase a new title. Often it takes a while for developers to process customer complaints and iron out any wrinkles in a given title’s programming. Further, the truly patient gamer may win out in the long run if developers decide to release a definitive edition of a game that includes all the DLC which impatient folks (like me) have been paying out the nose for. And yet, many of us just can’t wait.
Are we such suckers that we can’t resist the siren call of clever marketing singing us to financial shipwreck? Are we so desperate for entertainment that we will throw our hard-earned cash out the window just to fill our lives with a few immediate hours of escapism? Are we a bunch of pathetic addicts lurking around the Best Buys of the nation at 4am on a Saturday just to get our next fix? Maybe we are, but I like to think that we shell out the big bucks for new releases because, like children, we are excited. We have the privilege to be part of an ongoing discussion about an art form still in its chrysalis. As small as they are, our speculations and introspections about new releases are part of a greater record of the medium’s emergence into our shared cultural heritage. Gaming is evolving so fast that every year brings new innovations and ideas to the table. We are exploring bold new worlds and doing so from different perspectives with every great title that comes out. We can scold ourselves for not making the right financial choices some times, but I think it is a mistake to be harsh on ourselves for indulging in our curiosity and striving to be among the first to see what’s next on the road ahead.
Friday, April 9, 2010
by C.T. Hutt