Who Buys Games Anymore Anyway?

I was feeling the “play something else” itch the other day, and instead of scratching it with one of the 800 unplayed titles in my Steam library, I wanted to buy something new. In looking around, I found the game I had been subconsciously looking for: Forager.

Forager

That discount includes my subscriber bonus.

But then… I paused. Doesn’t this seems like, you know, the sort of game that might end up on the free Epic Store list? Or as a front-runner for Humble Bundle? Or otherwise in one of the dozens of bundles around the internet? Same thing with my #2 choice, Fate Hunters, a Slay the Spire-esque game currently 25% off on Steam. I love Slay the Spire, I have 130+ hours with that game.

But, you know… Slay the Spire is currently a front-runner for the September Humble Bundle.

So, I didn’t buy Forager. Instead, I’m playing a few of the free games from the Epic store, like Moonlighter and Enter the Gungeon. They don’t scratch the itch in exactly the same way, but they also don’t cost $13.59. Or any amount of money, actually. All of which is making me wonder when again exactly that I will be back to purchasing games.

Posted on September 5, 2019, in Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. If money is more important than getting what you want, fine. I’d always rather buy what I want, when I want it and enjoy it at the right time. I’ll pay what it’s worth to me and not care if it’s cheaper later. By then it might not be what I want any more, anyway.

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    • It’s not about the money, technically. It’s about the anguish I experience when I see a game I just purchased – or purchased months ago and not yet played – go on sale (or become free). I wanted to play Forager at the time of the screenshot… but there have been numerous times in which I complete the purchase, download the game, and then boot up a different game I had been playing for the last week. Months go by, then suddenly it’s in a Humble Bundle that I was going to buy anyway. I feel bad because I “lost” money, yes, but also because of the entire scenario in which I have a lifetime of (already purchased) games waiting to be played and yet I buy more regardless.

      By then it might not be what I want any more, anyway.

      And what does that tell us about the nature of our desires?

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      • This means you can never buy anything until it hits rock bottom sale price though. Any game will inevitably be cheaper later than it is now. It just strikes me as odd to have anguish about this. If you’re going to have anguish about missed opportunities, how about something significant like not buying bitcoin back in 2012?

        As for your backlog, I find it best to just cut your losses. Make a folder in Steam called “nevergonnaplaythis” and do an honest appraisal on the whole list.

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      • There is a time horizon of about a year to these feelings – I’m not that crazy. I don’t regret buying GTA5 back in 2016 despite it now going for less than $20 today, for example. The year thing does not particularly apply to instances in which I specifically bought a game and never got around to playing it and then it showed up free somewhere. That’s just dumb on my part; why purchase something you don’t plan to use for that amount of time?

        As for the backlog, you are probably right. I do have a “Finished” category that I occasionally toss unplayed games into just to get them off my library page.

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  2. See, what Bhagpuss doesn’t get is that it’s also about the nature of the deal, of being savvy enough to have picked it up at the correct price point of “super cheap” or “free” so that one doesn’t feel bad about “losing” money.

    I can’t help with the backlog anguish mindset though, except to suggest from the standpoint of those game collectors who have accumulated 1000s of games, that those interested in such collections drop the idea of the backlog that weighs down on you and look upon your personal collection as a library and a curated museum of amusements at your fingertips, to be played (or not played) whenever you want.

    Scrolling through my Steam library makes me immensely cheerful to see so many games, not guilt for never having played a bunch, but a delighted almost childish avarice that I could just drop games and pick up another – so much variety – on a whim.

    The thing is, I’ve followed my algorithm of buy stuff that I’m not going to install and play right now only at 75% or more discount, or wait for bundle deal, et. al. for over four years now. So the bulk of that collection only gives me warm fuzzy #patientgamer feelings when I look through them, as I totally do not mind buying and supporting an indie game developer at
    75% off for games I like the concept of, even if I never have time to fully play through them.

    At full price, yes, I would feel a pang of agony. At 25% or lower, nothing but “yay!” win-win, the devs get a little something from me, I get a new title in my collection and the ability to access it on demand, and when/if I install it is my own business.

    I play a huge variety of games anyway, so I don’t mind staggering the play through time. Recently I found myself playing through Cultist Simulator, Sunless Sea and Oxygen Not Included, all stuff past their initial release date and picked up on sale, and only now enjoying them more. The games can wait their turn.

    Tyranny is another example, I waited a long time, tried it out one free Steam weekend, found it okay but couldn’t bring myself to bite, waited it out even longer, and now it’s a Humble Bundle deal for <$5usd. Now its turn has come.

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    • Oxygen Not Included technically came out just a few weeks ago, but I get your drift.

      What I have been trying to do lately is at least boot up some of the long-installed-never-played games and at least giving them 30 minutes of the ole’ college try with zero expectations. Sometimes they will surprise me – Cultist Simulator was actually one of them – but more often I will delete them afterwards relatively guilt-free. Of course, there are hundreds and hundreds of games out there that no one would ever play if everything came down to the first 30 minutes of gameplay, but what else can you do?

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  3. This resonates with me so much! I picked up a year of the Humble Bundle last year for $99 so I get them regardless of what games come out… and I have the exact same “wait on that, it looks like a humble monthly game.”

    Perfect example, Mothergunship was just on sale last week for ~$6 and I almost bought it…was in my cart and everything. Today it just got released in the September Humble Monthly. And they also announced that Battletech is the headline game for October… also a game I’ve come close to buying on sale before!

    Not to say I won’t buy stuff (trust me, I still do and then go back to whatever game I was playing like someone else said)… I’m just more careful about waiting until a super sale or until I “need” something new to play.

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