Welcome to the epic conclusion of this tutorial on how to murder even the most fearsome backlog. New to the party? Catch up by reading the first part here
Yesterday, we learned that we should only buy games we actually want to play versus games that are just on sale. Yet even at that, there are still plenty of pitfalls to avoid if we want to keep our libraries in check. To illustrate, let me introduce you to my totally real friend: Sally Steampunk.
4: Avoid loading up on the same genre or series.
Word problem of the day: Sally has just read my advice from yesterday and proclaims “well, I like action RPGs the best, so now it’s a good time to purchase all the Kingdom Hearts
games and go wild!” She finds good deals on every game in the series so far and thoroughly enjoys the first two titles. However, by the time she gets to the third game, she finds the process of playing through it to be a chore. Within the week, she looks for more games to buy while the remaining Kingdom Hearts
games go unplayed on her shelf. What did she do wrong?
Answer: You can have too much of a good thing. Had Sally gradually acquired the Kingdom Hearts
games over a period of time and occasionally played other titles between them, her chances of finishing and enjoying every game in the series would have increased. Also, what if she hated Kingdom Hearts
after playing the first game? She’d be stuck with six games that she’d never want to return to.
Chances are, you like more than one genre. Even within any given genre, there’s a lot of variation as well. While debate over whether The Legend of Zelda
is a true RPG series or not remains heated, Sally could likely scratch her Action RPG itch between Kingdom Hearts
games with a Zelda
without becoming burnt out over either series. By mixing up the order in which you acquire the games you are interested in, you will find yourself more satisfied with the games you actually have in your collection.
5: Predict future price drops
Sales are both a gamer’s best friend and worst enemy at the same time. Even if you try to follow all the before mentioned advice, seeing a new title slashed from $60 to $30 for 48 hours is too good to pass up, right?
Spoilers: Unless it really is a game you've been dying to play, you should keep waiting.
With the exception of niche games with low production runs, almost all games will continue to drop in price with time, even falling below their “sale” prices. For example, critical darling Bioshock Infinite
could be found for $40 within three months of its release, and the game can be purchased for $30 (Xbox 360, PS3) or $20 (PC) as of writing this. By Christmas, it will likely drop to at least $20-$15, and within the following year it will likely drop even lower, probably running for $7.50 on Steam during a flash sale.
In other words, it’s rare for a game to be on sale for its “lowest price ever.” If you are eager to play a game, then these early sale prices can be justified, but 80% of the time you will save more by waiting. In other words, analyze your personal demand for a game and determine how much you’d like to pay for it.
If you’re extremely eager to play a new release but don’t want to pay $60, tell yourself to wait for it to drop to $40, which could likely happen within the first month or two. If you are interested in a game but still have five other games you'd like to get into, then perhaps $15 or $20 is more in your ballpark. In some cases, you might want to wait and see if a game’s DLC interests you and wait for a bundle/game of the year edition.
And by the way, those pre-order bonuses usually don't offset the high pricetags either. Example: I know a guy who made sure to preorder Borderlands 2
to make sure he'd get access to the bonus Mechromancer character. By the time he actually played the game, the game was going for half its intial asking price and the Mechromancer DLC could also be found discounted as well. Had he waited until he actually wanted to play the game, he would have saved himself ~$20 for the same product.
Measuring your patience for a game is the key. With practice, you’ll play most of the games you want for the lowest prices you’d like to pay for them.
BONUS SECTION: When to ignore everything I just said!
I’ve written the above advice in the best interest of the consumer (you), but it would seem irresponsible to ignore the extenuating circumstances in which it can be wise and/or admirable to outright shell out top dollar without waiting for a sale price.
Smaller/riskier games are usually worth supporting if you like the risk/series/genre/etc. For example, as a huge fan of the criminally underrated Klonoa
series, I couldn’t have purchased the 2009 Wii remake of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile
fast enough. While a number of variables contributed to the game’s unfortunate failure (like being marketed to elementary school age children when it’s properly suited for all ages) a number of gamers opted to either purchase the game used or deeply discounted because of complaints about the game’s length (despite otherwise positive reviews). This unfortunately means that the likelyhood of seeing the Klonoa
team band together for another title is slim to none, according to the series director
Another example? Beyond Good and Evil
. How has that planned sequel been coming lately? I rest my case.
As mentioned earlier, games with low production runs are also worth getting in on if they happen to be your cup of tea. $50 may have been a lot for Metroid Prime Trilogy
, but clearly those would have been worthy investments at this stage.
I’m not suggesting to throw money at every underdog game that you see, but if you happen to be a firm believer in a game or series, then voting with your dollars will ultimately be good for it in the end.
As with any list of advice, none of this is the gospel truth that will work for everyone. The thrill of the sale is almost as exciting as booting up a game for the first time, so bargain hunting should be something we anticipate and enjoy, not something we dread. The goal is to spend more time playing the games you enjoy the most, and really, why wouldn’t we be striving for that.
So get out there, enjoy yourselves, and use all that money you save to buy your friends a few gifts to spread the love. And while you’re at it, maybe some of those games you’ll never play can go to a good cause, like charity! That’s what Sally Steampunk did, and do you know how many children she helped? None. Because she doesn’t exist. I should probably think of more realistic names than Sally Steampunk.