Monday, January 13, 2014

Does a Cheap Game Deter Its Fun?

Many of you have probably taken part in the all glorious Steam sale or any other digital and/or physical discount event, perhaps Black Friday? While you can save a ton then, the timeframe a game’s price drops over time has decreased over time dramatically. A game used to go down in price after 4 to 6 months after release, I would sometimes be able to hold off by then, but now we’re seeing things almost as soon as a month on average where you’ll see significant discounts on those release prices. These are said to be the “Golden Years of Gaming”, it’s a great time to be gaming as the industry is thriving and pushing onto untold developments. Does this abundance of cheap games take away from the fun factor of a game and ultimately hurt the gamer’s experience when playing such a title?

A while ago, according to the site I signed up in October 2006, I joined a gaming community and deal discovering hideout called Everybody loves finding a good deal on games right. Not even talking about dollar mobile games, you can pick up new titles in the $10-$30 price range, lower if it’s a downloadable indie title perhaps, in a few months after release if you know which retailer is doing the deal or who’s got a promo code.  The site is great, I've found so many games at a reasonable price that it’s helped fuel my gaming hobby, nah lifestyle. So the other day, a few days after the last Steam sale actually, a thought hit me, what if picking up cheap games takes away from the game’s quality and experience.

See I say this as I've got a huge backlog piling up. I pride to be knowledgeable about the industry and what each developer is doing to push the player and make an awesome gaming experience. I heard so many people say "I didn't know anything about the game but it was on sale on Steam so I picked it up." With this abundance of games, digitally or physically, at your fingertips you've got a cornucopia of options to choose from. There’s even more distractions to take you away from playing one game. The amount of an attention span you have to have to devote to one game these days is pretty impressive and with all the second screen experiences out there I’m guessing gamers’ attention spans are not improving. Maybe it’s just me but I've lost track of how many games I had started, played for a few weeks or a few months and never got back to as some other game came out to grab my attention.

I've been going back through my backlog lately, it was actually one of my gaming resolutions to finish or complete (get all achievements) more games I have in my backlog before playing new titles. I wonder the psychology of playing a game that I picked up for $10 used a while ago (figuring I wouldn't get that deal later or that it would be that much when I got around to playing it) compared to playing a game I picked up on launch day for the full price of $50 or $60. I know if you pick up and play a game when it releases and you paid a little extra to get that swanky new Collector’s Edition, you build up some weight to your appreciation of the game already. I know this psychological trick is a known fact that publishers use for their games because more and more games keep coming out with their own special editions to cash in on the passionate fan base that is the gaming populace of the video game industry. I remember the games I’d pick up as a kid, often only one for a long period of time, and devote hours to, the gaming experiences were magical. 

I still remember diving head first into Super Metroid when I was a kid. Playing the game straight through my summer vacation finding every little nook and cranny, secret, unlockable and beating my best time. Obviously as you grow up you’ll find less time to devote hours to a game, the main reason I don’t play Counter Strike  anymore, but you’ll also have a steadier income than when you were a kid – the average age for gamers now is 35 years old- - so picking up 3 to 5 games at one time isn't unusual but is this a good thing, we do get to enjoy more, or is it a bad thing, we’re diluting the gaming experience with so many games. Food for thought.

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