3.19.2007

It's The Little Things

Remember when a game cost just a nickle? Neither do I. In fact, it seems that this latest generation of consoles has brought with it cheaper and cheaper games. Not that games are getting cheaper overall, mind you; production costs are up, and we're spitting out $60 for most triple-A games. No, I'm referring to XBox Live Arcade, Wii Virtual Console, and PS3 online store.

Thanks to these, you can buy hours of gaming entertainment for under $10 each, some as cheap as $4. This is great. Let me preface with that. Honestly, though, I'm having a hard time breaking old habits. I'm used to long-awaited games costing me a premium, and as a kid, having to wait strategically until the next gift-receiving holiday to bust out my most-wanted list. Nowadays, not only can I blow as much as I'd like on games, I can pick one up for the price of a delicious Quiznos sandwich. Unfortunately, my buying habits can't catch up.

Odd, I know, but game-purchases are still so exciting for me. I can walk in and out of a new movie without missing a beat, spending $12 (thanks, NYC) in the process, but when it comes to spending the equivalent of my subway fare for a game, I feel that I have to wait for the right time. Every new game I buy is a new thrill, and I'm still over-careful with that. There are a number of devious forces at work here:

1) Pile of Shame. I can't stand to leave games unfinished, and with my pile already hundreds of hours high, I don't feel the urgency to get these games, even though I could play some of them for an hour or two to get my first taste.

2) Game Credits. Someone over at Microsoft and Nintendo decided it would be better to make gamers invest in points before being able to buy games. While I see the tactile reasons behind this, for me, this just makes the decision to buy a game twice as grueling. First, I have to pop out my credit card to buy the points, and THEN, I have to spend my hard-bought points. I get second thoughts: "Should I buy two $4 games instead of this $10 one? Maybe I should just save it all for Settlers of Catan. That has to be coming out soon!"

3) Can't Judge a Game By Its Cover, especially when it doesn't have one. I've experienced the sadness of losing interest in a game because the thrill faded or was superseded by some other new game. This can happen even faster with downloadable games, since there's no box to stare me in the face every time I get home.

Perhaps I'm stingy with my gaming dollars. Maybe I should loosen up and just buy every game I've ever considered getting, just so I have it for the future. Maybe, but you'd understand how I feel if you too had unknowingly bought Saga Frontier. You can never be too careful...

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