For a while I've been trying to understand the mentality that goes with picking a video game. What makes us choose the game we choose over others available at the same time? For this article, I'm going to have to use a couple of gamer characters to illustrate my ideas. Let's call them Bob and Steve. They're as excited about the current lineup of games as the rest of us. For the sake of argument, let's say that both Bob and Steve have all current-gen consoles. I won't cover the "casual" market in this article because, let's face it, I'm not a casual gamer.
Now, let's look at the cycle of gaming news:
E3: The Electronic Entertainment Expo:
The best time to be a gamer. All the hottest new titles we'll get in the coming year are about to be announced in three exciting days. For the sake of argument let's say only Bob follows it enthusiastically, checking out the live feeds, downloading the best videos, and drinking in all new gaming content that all major game-related websites and communities have to offer for weeks after the actual event has ended. He knows for sure what games he's going to buy, and on which consoles. He has formed a list, and he's excited to share the best information with his friends.
As new releases approach, Steve, a more laid-back gamer, finds some information about a hot new game that wasn't in his radar until that moment. Possibly in a blog, or a top 10 anticipated list, or a promo video about the game... Whatever it is, he is hooked, and goes to pick up the game on day one. He might end up loving it dearly, or put it behind him after the hype dies down. This usually happens to good games that were lost in between several major releases, which the gamer finds out about and decides it's as worthy, if not more worthy, that the rest of the games coming out that season. Of course, Bob doesn't worry about this kind of possible last-minute information, because he misses nothing in the gaming world.
This mostly applies to gamers with some spare cash looking for a quick new game to buy and enjoy, so they head down to their local game store and look around until they find one game which sounds
like it's a good idea. That's the blight of many gamers, who fall for good gaming concepts with poor execution, misguided nostalgia or just a quick fix through a game that closely resembles another game they liked sometime in the past. Either way, the impulsive buy is our biggest regrets later. It should be noted that this type of purchase usually occurs during the periods where no big releases are scheduled. Bob is often depicted as this kind of person when he's too bored with the games he has bought but never finished. All 400 of them.
While Bob is busy tracking game news months before their release, Steve waits patiently for a trusted review website to post its review of new releases, before assessing whether any of them are actually worth getting. It's only a matter of time before Steve realizes that he doesn't always agree with the reviews his trusted source release, and eventually ends up relying heavily on Metacritic.
BONUS: Trolls, Haters, Fanboys and Casual Gamers, Explained
Let's say Bob and Steve have a friend called John, who also has all three consoles. Now John's Xbox 360 had an irreparable system failure and he opted to put it aside. Naturally, he'd feel betrayed by Microsoft, and is at risk of becoming an anti-fanboy. Now, Bob, being the jerk he is, decides to pick up an Xbox 360 exclusive and gloat about it for John's spite. John would take his frustration online, become a troll, and expand the chasm between Microsoft fanboys and haters. Even if he happens to get another Xbox 360 at a later time, he'd make it a point to buy all multiplatform games on the PS3. Bob, in retaliation, would buy more Xbox 360 games, and Steve, disgusted, would step away from the scene and become a casual gamer playing solely on the Wii.