February 27th, 2011

friendlysketch, Thornwolf

Frugal ignorance

My video game spending has plummeted recently.

This coincides neatly with my stopping reading gaming news sites regularly. A few months ago, I got frustrated with the sheer volume of content going through my Google Reader feed and pared it back dramatically; this is sort of an ongoing thing, something I have to do on a regular basis, but it's worth keeping my reading list manageable. I sink way too much time into it otherwise. Almost all the gaming news went, mostly on the grounds that it serves negligible social value, the interesting stories all get picked up by Slashdot anyway, and casually reading game reviews makes me spend money when I already had enough games I'd never started anyway.

That was the theory, anyway. The theory is well borne-out by the evidence, though; I haven't spent more than $10 on a game for the last three months now (Steam sales came in under that line, per-game), and don't feel especially deprived. Today, I flipped through Gamespot, and needed Rakeela to remind me that there is no reason I need to buy Tactics Ogre (Let Us Cling Together/PSP) because I already have 8 other games in that genre, 4 of which I haven't started, 2 of which are other Tactics Ogre games. (I do want to play the GBA one very soon, but I just got seriously started on Final Fantasy Tactics... I'm a bit past halfway through Jeanne D'Arc, which is also a brilliant example of the genre, but my short attention span rarely lets me complete a game contiguously- I shelve it for a while, then come back to it- and I'm giving it a rest for now.)

So I'm swearing off gaming news, I think. (Sorry, Miktar.) It causes me to make irrational financial decisions. Counting everything across all my available systems- GB, GBC, GBA, DS, DSi, PSP, PS2, Wii, XBOX, XBOX 360, and PC- I have over 100 games I have not started or have barely started. I have "barely started" a game if I have not saved at least twice outside of the tutorial. And I have over 50 games available that I have never launched.

To be fair, a good chunk of this is Rakeela's library, but, well, there are games I want to play there. Of the astonishingly large number of games we picked up during Steam's Christmas sale, I have started less than 1/10th, and want to play (and, in fact, play through) 95% of them. The upshot to this is that it is provably irrational for me to ever buy a PC game that is not during Steam's annual Christmas sale, because such sales easily account for all the games I need to keep me entertained for the entire year and beyond.

I have no incentive to buy a new-release game, categorically. I do not play games online very much: I prefer to be competitive, at least at mid-range, and do not have the time to be competitive at more than one or two games. That game is Puzzle Pirates (which I'm getting back into after over three years away; pirate name Kistaro, on the Viridian ocean), which is directly in my genre, low key, and filling all the time I can afford at playing a game for the purpose of becoming competitive for multiplayer online play. So if I'm not going to play online, why does it matter when I get it? If I'm not playing with other people, the offline content is all that matters, and if that goes away some time after the game is released, it wouldn't have been a very good investment anyway. There are exceptions- Wario Ware DIY comes to mind- but they are in the vast minority.

Ignorance really is bliss, I guess. By not knowing about these games I don't have, I don't feel compelled to buy them at release price; I find out about them years later when I decide I want a game in a given genre, look up the best game on the console I want it for in the given genre, find the first one I don't have, and pick it up out of a bargain bin for $10.

I've migrated to DreamWidth. The original post is at http://kistaro.dreamwidth.org/471484.html. View comment count unavailable comments at http://kistaro.dreamwidth.org/471484.html#comments; go ahead and use OpenID to post your own, or you can comment here.
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