It’s all about the
Pentiums Benjamins! Or three Jacksons? Who’s even on a Canadian twenty? Does Canada have twenty dollar bills?
I wrote about a similar topic recently, where I gave an idea of my thought process for how I decide if I want to buy a game or not. Part of what factors into that decision is whether or not the game is worth the price of admission, and that’s where a little critical thinking comes in. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to just buy whatever game I wanted, whenever I wanted to, but I have no idea how I could afford to do that, let alone find the time to actually play all those games.
Hell, I have a hard enough time playing what I already own.
Anyways, I have my own thought process for how I determine if a game is worth the price on the box (and yes, I prefer physical copies), just as I’m sure many of you apply your own preferences to these kinds of decisions. The key thing to remember is that these are all subjective criteria. Don’t worry, I’ll ask for your thoughts later!
No, not how long you’d need to run in the game, or in real life. I have a feeling that I’d be screwed if that was part of the equation, and most player characters would be dead on arrival. Instead, part of what factors into whether or not a game is worth the cost is how long it continues to entertain. Special emphasis on the “entertain” part. A game that takes forever to beat or has so many ancillary activities that completing them all would pad the run time to 100+ hours wouldn’t make it worth it, in my opinion.
That’d be like watching a movie that contained 12 hours of static spread throughout. Sure, the $10 I spent on the ticket and the $15 small popcorn would be worth the price if the movie was good, but anyone would feel ripped off if the situation were otherwise. The fact is, people play games to be entertained. Who wants to play a game that’s a chore to get through?
Oh, right… people play Dark Souls.
I jest. I know that Dark Souls is a great game, but let’s take it as an example. The base game can take about 49 hours to beat, with a completionist playthrough taking about 108 hours. That ain’t bad for a game that costs $60 (US), but hours aren’t everything. Other factors come into play. The story, the side activities, quality, and scope of the game can all affect how “worth it” the game is.
Tell Me A Good Story, Or Just Make It Fun
Developers often find a good balance between the story and gameplay, while others sometimes excel at both. However, sometimes games lean on the story as a primary attraction, yet doesn’t deliver. The worst offenders are often those that try to leverage different gameplay elements to spin the tale that players can make their own story *cough* Destiny *hacking cough* Shadow of War.
Constructing a story in your head is different than being a part of one. There’s a reason why good books immerse you in the narrative, and why no book makes you write in your own words to help do the work for the author. Except Mad Libs; those are awesome! It’s fun trying to find creative ways to say rude things…
But hey, not every game needs to be a narrative masterpiece. We gamers need more than just story-heavy marvels like Firewatch and Fallout: New Vegas. We need games like DOOM, Cities: Skylines, and Just Cause 3; games that are fun to play, even if story takes the back burner. Those games give a ton of bang for your buck because they’re just plain fun.
Again, the important factor is entertainment value. A game won’t be worth anything if it isn’t fun or can’t hold your interest. There’s nothing worse, gaming-wise, than shelling out a big chunk of change only to find out that your hard-earned money was spent on something that’s a boring piece of garbage. Dealing with not buying a game because it doesn’t look interesting does hurt you as a gamer, because you wasted neither your money or time after all.
I think every gamer has a story about a game they bought that got them to a point of unnerving frustration and anger because it simply didn’t work, or was so unreliable that players needed to save just to make sure they wouldn’t lose progress every time the game inevitably crashed.
Assassin’s Creed Unity, Dragon Age: Origins, basically any game ever developed by Bethesda… The same goes for multiplayer games, like Battlefield 4, which released with multiplayer that barely worked at all, for months. It’s even worse when the game is otherwise good, and you want to play it, but you are simply unable to because the damn thing can’t go more than 20 minutes without encountering a fatal error and crashing to the desktop or home screen.
Money Money Money Money… Money!
And of course, we come around back to the meat of the matter, money itself. The price of whatever you’re looking to buy can influence if it’s worth buying at all. Something like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided may not be worth a price of $60 (US), but it could be considered a steal for a third of that price. The same goes for any game really.
Of course, these days it seems far more likely that the full-priced game is going to release with a corresponding season pass for the litany of DLC, which could even be subject to a price hike once the publisher decides they could make even more money off of their already-paying customers. After all, why settle for some of your customer’s money when you can have all of their money?
I don’t mean to sound overly cynical. I do find some DLC that is worth spending a little extra cash, like the addons for Mass Effect 3, The Following for Dying Light, or Horizon: Zero Dawn‘s The Frozen Wilds. Sometimes, the developer of a game is actually allowed by their publisher to put time, care, and effort into DLC, but it’s hard to gauge the value of something that hasn’t released yet, so that’s a bit of a wash I suppose.
Now that we’ve come back around to the one thing that keeps us from buying every game that comes out, I’ll leave you with a summary of what goes through my head when I look at the game case on the shelf in the store, or at home as I’m reminiscing (or kicking myself):
- How much quality time will I have with it?
- Are the story and gameplay worth my time?
- Can I actually play it without embedding a controller in my wall?
How much would a new controller cost?
- How much is the game right now?
- How much will it cost to get the whole game?
The unfortunate thing about this sort of evaluation is that it’s often done in retrospect. Some questions can be asked that help my decision when there’s very little information to go off of, like the price of the game and if the publisher has stated plans for DLC; you can also look at a publisher’s history to evaluate this (basically any DLC published by Activision is probably going to be a cashgrab).
You can also rely on reviews of games to help you make informed decisions, which I would heavily recommend. Learn from others’ mistakes and save yourself the trouble. Some sites offer in-depth reviews and can give you a good idea of what you’re getting yourself into. I heard of this great site called Falcon Game Reviews by the way…
Okay, that might’ve been a shameless plug, but can you blame me? You’re on this site already.
With that, I want to leave you with a prompt for input. What factors into your evaluation of whether or not a game purchase was worth your time and money? Did I miss anything? Do you even care if you slip up? Discuss!
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