The process is easy… ish.
Buying games can be easy, as long as you don’t have any standards. Some folks don’t, and I suppose there isn’t anything wrong with that. Some just love Steam sales; a friend of mine has a Steam library that could put most streamers to shame. Others just don’t have to worry about money. They make a good living and can afford to suffer through buying a couple stinkers every now and then.
I do not have that luxury though. I’m picky about what I buy, and when I buy it, and many of you are the same, I’m sure. How you come to that decision is based on a variety of factors. I go through a bit of cost-benefit analysis and research before making purchases.
What sort of criteria do I use? I’m glad you asked this question, hypothetical question asker! That’s the whole point of this post after all.
No grade will be assigned for participation, but there will be a pop quiz at some point.
Is It Good?
The quality of the game I’m considering is one of most important pieces of information I try to glean. It’s no easy task sometimes to get the best feel for something I’m interested in, as there can be misleading reviews for the game in question, and previews from most sites are often unreliable.
Seriously, why do so many previews out there of games coming out come across as grossly positive, yet the reviews can be hit or miss on positivity? If I were more paranoid, I would think that the site were playing it safe out of fear that the publisher might refuse to assign a review copy…
Anyways, quality is obviously important. I don’t necessarily want to spend my money on something that’s a piece of garbage, or even a mediocre experience. Granted, that isn’t always easy when I’m considering a purchase to write a review, but I get whatever information I can through whatever means possible.
Thankfully, I’ve been able to accomplish this legally… so far.
Am I Excited To Play It?
It should be fairly obvious that I’m a bit of a giddy child when it comes to buying games. There are some purchases that I’m so excited to get home and play, that I end up rushing to get it installed. I can’t explain how grateful I am to finally live in an area where my internet connection speeds exceed 10 Mb/s download.
But there are some games that I’m interested in getting my hands on that don’t give me that feeling. If I find myself thinking “It’d be neat to try that game” instead of “I cannot wait until I get a chance to play that!”, then I generally can convince myself to sit on the purchase for a while. Usually until there’s a sale on it. That’s how I convinced myself to wait to play Prey and DOOM. It would’ve been cool to have both on launch day, but considering that I wasn’t bouncing with joy at the thought of unwrapping that cellophane and downloading the ridiculously large patches, I found that waiting paid off.
Will I Play It Immediately?
How long will the game spend on my entertainment center, still packaged, before I get around to playing it? Or, in the case of digital purchases: how long will it be installed before I boot it up for the first time? These are important questions that I ask myself, because if I’m not going to be dropping everything to partake in the novel goodness of a new game, then there really isn’t much point in buying it right away.
Sales make this difficult most of the time, because there are some things that get a hefty discount yet I know I won’t be getting around to them anytime soon. There’s a bit of consumer psychology going on here too, and I’m a prideful person that fancies himself above that manipulation (I still fail constantly though). Companies throw products on sale because they know people are susceptible to loss aversion.
“What if I don’t buy it now when it’s cheap, and I have to buy it at full price later?”
I used to be far more influenced by that, but I’ve been doing better lately.
Now, I manage to hold off on buying games that I know I won’t be playing for a while, whether it’s because I’m just not over-the-moon for it, or I just have too much on my plate at the moment.
The Almighty Dollar (or Pound, or Kroner, or Peso)
Games are expensive, sometimes. Most mainstream games these days seen to hover about the $50-$60 (US) range, with indie titles hanging out around $20-$30 (US). That may be pocket change to some folks, but Jennifer and I aren’t made of money. If that were the case, I’d be laundering cash every time I took a shower.
Wait, that’s not what that idiom means.
My point is, that with $60, I can fill my car up three times, or buy groceries for a few weeks, or have two to three dinner dates with Jennifer. So that cash spent on a game could mean the difference between me getting to enjoy other things in life or not. We don’t scrape by; not by any means. However, there’s no sense in being wasteful. New games are cool to have, but I’m not rolling in dough. So unless I feel the game is worth the expense, I’ll probably hold off.
How Complete Is The Package?
It seems that lately there’s a desire on the behalf of the games industry to mislead consumers. I don’t mean to sound like the old man in the room, but back in my day, when you bought a game, you didn’t have to worry about DLC, microtransactions, or season passes. These days, it appears that almost every major game release comes in 20 different variants.
You have the Standard edition, Silver edition, Gold edition, Platinum edition, Digital Deluxe edition, Elite edition, Prestige edition, and on, and on. Each different version carries with it different tiers of extra content, and often that extra content ends up being part of a package deal later down the line. If there’s a good chance that buying a game means I’ll need to get the Ultimate edition for $100, and still need to buy some content for it to get the whole game, I’m probably going to wait. After all, what’s the point in buying a game for $60 when I’ll need to spend another $40-$60 to play the rest of the game?
The Dreaded Loot Box
Not long ago, I took a stand on what sort of shenanigans I would tolerate from the games industry. Yeah, it sucks that I’ll be shooting myself in the foot for my principles, but if my choices are to support practices that manipulate and exploit gamers for ridiculous profits, or to not take part, I’ll choose the latter.
Keep in mind that only part of this is about principle. The other part is about time investment. If I’m going to spend good money on a game, only to find out that the publisher is trying to coerce me into spending money on loot boxes to make progress or attain in-game items, I’m going to be much less interested in playing their game.
So, I now use loot boxes as a way to weed out which games I spend my (but mostly Jennifer’s) hard-earned money on. It works out well for me because I can rest easy knowing that the sleazy loot box slingers aren’t making a dime off of me, I can focus on other games instead, and I have more time and money to spend on my wife as well.
About the only thing I miss out on is a ton of site traffic for the bigger game releases.
Does Jennifer Approve?
Perhaps one of the most important criteria for how I decide whether or not to buy a game is: Did I get the ‘okay’ from Jennifer?
This may sound a tad bit controversial to some of the more manly men out there. The guys that think “nobody is going to tell me what I can buy with my money!” Well, my words to those… relationship experts (do you sense the sarcasm?) is that I’ve been happily married for five years as of the time of this post, and I plan to keep it that way. I always ask Jennifer if she’s alright with me buying something more expensive than about $5-$10. I do make money myself, but being in a relationship, being married, and living with someone else makes me beholden to her in my eyes. I’m required to be responsible to her.
Quite frankly, if those folks feel like they should be able to make big purchases without first consulting their significant other (assuming they share responsibilities), that’s their business, but that doesn’t make that stance any less stupid in my eyes.
How did I get on this soap box? Hang on a second…
In other words, Jennifer gets the final say, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What are your thoughts on this? What sort of decision making process do you use? Do you just buy on impulse? Let’s discuss!
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