Wednesday, August 20, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

Today, Polygon’s Opinions editor Ben Kuchera validated the “late gamer”, the consumer who picks up games long after their initial release, despite those that stress the felt need to buy games day-one to help developers keep their jobs. He speaks of “Game of the Year Editions”, “Enhanced Editions” and other ‘editions’ that add more value to older titles, with packed in DLC that would have put an additional $30 or more to the original release of the game.

This isn’t always ideal of course, as stepping into multiplayer communities 6-12 months + after launch often leads to repeated failure by the hands of hardened online veterans, and the longer you wait not playing The Last of Us, the more evasive you have to be to avoid spoilers.

Though unreasonable an impossible to predict, publishers have us covered with a growing handful of remakes and remasters from Tomb Raider, to Sleeping Dogs, to a slew of PSN classics. We sometimes get package deals as well, with Metro Redux coming next week that includes both 2033 and Last Light, and Bayonetta 2 on Wii U that packs the original Bayonetta on the box. I’ve never played a Bayonetta or a Metro game, so I get four games for the price of two.

This notion doesn’t exclude diminished pricings of games, online store sales and game trade ins. There are many gamers who monitor this economy in search for games for cheap.

Repackaged editions that come from games earlier in the console’s life cycle and a previous one can come at anytime from anywhere, making them more unpredictable; but waiting for games to come out for free is a satisfying gamble.

Between May when I bought Watch Dogs and the time of this writing, I’ve spent a total of $60 on games. Yes, that includes game trade-ins for Mario Kart 8 and Wolfenstein: The New Order (both in which I reviewed), but those are just 3 of the 12+ games I’ve played over the past few months. The remainder is thanks to the Playstation Plus and Games with Gold subscription programs, providing a small handful of free games each month. The phrase used to be, “I’ll wait for the Steam Sale”; now it’s also “I’ll wait ‘till it’s free on Plus”. These two console service programs have been a bastion for low budget gamers such as myself, offering well received titles such as Fez, Dragon’s Crown, Dark Souls, and Dishonored for free. And with third party publishers stepping into the game, it seems like it’ll be even more worthwhile to be patient.

EA Access, EA’s new digital subscription service program, mirrors PS Plus and GwG in that they offer free titles with discounts on all other digital purchases. I spoke about how EA’s Vault setup allows us to relax as we can enter their collection at any time and have access to all games that historically have been included. Though with a measly 4 titles included in the Vault at this time on a less-than-a-year old system, EA Access isn’t quite worth the $30 annual/$5 monthly subscription, but it will over time… and other publishers will recognize that.  Seeing other third party publishers enter the subscription mix will make for an interesting time, converting some day-one goers to digital late adopters. They may lock you within their publishing umbrella for another asking price of thirty or-so dollars a year, but the numbers tip in the consumer’s favor once they’re surpassed that annual fee within a month’s worth of games.

New editions, bonus inclusions, digital sales, and online subscription programs, all of these pricing models and practices make our hobby much cheaper. We’ll just have to be patient. 

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