There was a time when gamers would rave about the games they loved and bought them at launch religiously. Happy to pay full price, if it was the latest instalment in your favourite series there wasn’t a question that you would make a purchase. There was a time when a new Final Fantasy title stirred up sensational arguments across the internet, gamers everywhere debating which instalment was the greatest.

There was also a time when you’d see solid RPGs (and JRPGS) hit store shelves bi-monthly. Now it seems that all that’s out there are shooters and sequels in an FPS over-saturated market.

I no longer buy games at launch.  The question is what changed? Me or the gaming industry? To answer this question we’ll have to ask and answer a few other queries:

What makes a game worth buying at launch? Is it playtime and replay-ability  Is it the  love you have for the franchise, or just to show off to your friends that you have the latest entry? Whatever the reason, I have stopped buying games at launch, and have noticed a similar trend in my gaming circles.  (Okay, I still buy Final Fantasy games at launch, but that’s just because I love the series. Call me crazy, I don’t care.)

I guess the next logical step in this piece is examining why one wouldn’t buy a game at launch. One obvious reason is the possibility that the game could be ‘bad’ or not suite my gaming needs. For example, I still haven’t bought Modern Warfare 3 a year after release, or Deus Ex, because of the reason mentioned above and, well, price. They are still retailing at full stock price in my country.

So is price the reason that I and so many others have stopped buying games at launch? Full-fledged console games are more expensive than ever, especially when you add the cost of DLC to the cost of the disc. But what else? Waiting for a price-drop or another version  of a game opens up one more possibility. You never know if a “Game Of The Year” version might be announced including all the DLC and extras you might’ve paid for if you purchased an early copy (hello Arkham City).

In a survey conducted by 1Up, money was still the most important factor in buying games. Dropping close to 70 bucks on a game when I’m not sure if it is really worth my time (or if a better, all-inclusive version might be coming) makes me hesitate to buy almost any game at launch. I’m a guy with a limited supply of money. I dream of having the money to buy games without weighing the value against a checklist of criteria.

I will be getting Borderlands, Dark Souls, Arkham City and Nier for a combined 80$ today. Yes, yes, I know, those games are great and I’m an idiot to wait to play them till now. The truth, however, is that when these games were new I just wasn’t quite ready to shell out 200$ for them. Sure, I felt a little left out when they we’re new and all the rave, but the games are still fun and they aren’t costing me a fortune now!

There are games which I bought at launch and failed to even play until after the release of a GOTY version sporting more content for less money. “Oh, I’ll get back to them later,” I had told myself.  What a waste.

Take Skyrim for example. I knew that the modding community would rise from the dead once the game was released, and that it did. However, I could not wait for a price-drop or a GOTY edition because I knew that the game was for me and I’d love it. I bought the game for the PlayStation 3 because  I did not have a PC strong enough to run it upon release.

Surprisingly, I did not experience any of the problems many other PS3 players were having with Skyrim. I will buy the game for the PC eventually, because I believe Skyrim was made much better with the help of the community. In other words…buying at launch burned me again.

To be entirely honest, I would buy more games at launch if DLC hadn’t so drastically altered the value proposition offered by most “AAA” titles. Simply because of the mere fact that there might be DLC for a specific game, I hesitate to spend my money on it because there’s a chance I might get a better value for money on it later.

What do you guys think? Is buying games at launch still a good idea, or do you think bargain-bins and price-drops are a better option in an industry that has changed so greatly over the years? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet us @GameJudgment.

Title image courtesy of Botecogamer.
  1. bubbabigboy says:

    You said it. Ill be grabbing Borderlands 2 after the Christmas rush for much less than $60. Its just the way to do it.

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