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Niiiiiiice

Is there a better feeling than pondering buying a game, deciding it’s not quite at the right sale price for you, then finding out it’s a front-runner for next month’s Humble Bundle?

HB_Timing

I submit that there is not!

As always, I’m starved for survival/crafting games not already consumed, and My Time at Portia was something that had hitherto not been on the radar. Then it was… but at $30. Seeing as how I missed all the historic low prices of $12-$15 some time in the interminable past, I resigned myself to wait things out further. Then, Humble Bundle. I care nothing for Soul Calibur or (probably) the Yakuza game, but I will snap up a $12 copy of the game I was looking for and possibly 6-7 games I wasn’t.

You know, aside from the exploitative microtransactions and design-destroying loot boxes, I’m enjoying this age of novel payment methods. Between monthly bundles, Epic’s bribes, Twitch’s giveaways, and Microsoft’s increasingly desperate attempts to sell you months of Gamer Pass for $1, I think we’re more saturated with games now than we were during peak F2P. At least, I know I am.

The trick will be to actually play them, rather than looking at the library with glazed eyes and then booting up the same game I had been playing for the last two weeks.

Less Humble Bundle

Humble Bundle has released a new pricing structure and tacit plan to keep people subscribed:

Humble_Change

Basically, if you are currently subscribed you are grandfathered into the same $12/month plan you have always had. The upswing is that there will be no more mystery: you will know exactly what games are on offer each month.

For everyone else, you get jacked. Well, relatively. At the $15/month subscription plan, you get to see all 10 games and pick 3 that you want. Or pay $20/month and get nine. Not sure if there will be 10 games on offer or just nine, given the Classic subscription. Neither scenario makes sense.

There are several very weird elements to this change, aside from the Netflix-esque price increase.

The biggest in my mind is… doesn’t this just directly compete with the normal Humble Bundles? For example, there is currently the Post-Modern bundle that includes 8 games that you can all buy for $15. Granted, $15 is only for the top tier game – you can opt for four games for just $1. I would have to assume that the Monthly bundle would not include the “lower tier” games in the offering, because that would be quite the slap in the face if you had to choose just 3 and only one was worth it. But with the mystery gone, are we really going to assume that every bundle is going to start including three (or more) high-tier games for one low price?

Even seeing all the choices gives me pause. So… we’ll be able to see all the choices ahead of time with ample opportunity to cancel/pause the subscription, right? So we’re really just deciding on whether to buy three games for $15 or nine games for $20? I know that technically the subscription has other benefits, e.g. 20% off store purchases and the like, but let’s be real here, that discount barely covers the immense risk you take by purchasing Steam keys from a retailer you cannot easily (at all?) refund through.

Supposedly you can pause even your Classic subscription if there is a dud month, but I have no particular faith that that will last more than a year. And if you accidentally cancel instead of pause every month, you get kicked out of the club and have to pay $8/month more than you did before. Nevermind how many subs HB will get from people wanting to be grandfathered in “just in case.”

None of this really matters in the abstract, I know. But it’s nevertheless fascinating seeing all the novel ways game companies/retailers come up with to part you with your hard-earned cash. Makes me wonder why gamers are such a special case when the rest of the world is still selling boxes.

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.

Finally Burned by the Bundle

The Steam Summer sale came to a close a few days ago.

The end actually snuck up on me. I talked about the items on my wishlist before, but what ended up happening is A) I bought State of Decay 2 at full MSRP, B) I bought The Division (Gold) for $18, and C) I bought Conan: Exiles for $18 via two discounts on GMG. There still seemed to be relatively good deals available, but I wanted to spend all my time playing State of Decay 2 recently, and figured that that was worthwhile. Why buy more games than you can immediately play?

That would have been good and all, but… well…

Conan

Ugh, curses! CURSES!

Yep, that’s Conan: Exiles as one of the early unlocks for Humble Monthly Bundle.

What’s worse is that I’m pretty done with State of Decay 2, and I’m having very little fun with The Division. I’m level 8 at the moment, and wondering if the rest of the game is going to be basically this the whole time. And so I may have been inclined to boot up Conan next, and yet I could have gotten it for $5 cheaper + a bunch of other games had I waited like two days – GMG doesn’t allow refunds once the code is activated. I could always pause for the month, but the cosmic odds are such that the hidden games are probably going to be more stuff I want. Until it’s actually purchased, of course, and what’s inside is really a dead cat. Quantum physics is truly the biggest troll of them all.

Humble Destiny

The latest Humble Monthly bundle has Destiny 2 as an early unlock. I’ve been subscribing month-to-month for a while now, and this was a no-brainer month to pay early.

Destiny-2_Farm

Graphics = good

Destiny 2 is the much maligned sequel to a game that should have been ported over to the PC the first time around. I am well aware that the endgame sucks, and that the (short?) campaign really just serves as a vehicle for expensive, disappointing DLC. Oh, and they actually removed content from the base game when the first DLC came out. Classic Activision Blizzard. Still, $12 is $12, and I wanted to see this train-wreck for myself.

You know, as a member of the Press©.

First impressions? It is a staggeringly beautiful game. Skyboxes are skyboxes, but D2’s are great. The gunplay thus far as been as good as they say as well.

Destiny-2_Titan

Actual jumping requirements? Interesting…

Once out of the immediate tutorial area, I found the sort of free-roam mechanics rather interesting. The first mission had a recommend gearscore Power level of 30, and I only had 20 at the time, so I stuck around and randomly killed enemies with other strangers until enough loot dropped to take me over the finish line. There were periodic public events, so things didn’t take too long, but it was interesting seeing this sort of MMO-ish Public Quest mechanic in a FPS. I’m sure things get significantly less interesting once you’re no longer getting upgrades, but until then… wheee!

Regardless, I am still super early in the experience – or maybe not… heard the story is like 5-6 hours? – having just unlocked the free-roam areas on Titan. Not sure that I like the rock-paper-scissor style of weapons though. Yeah, it’s fine have energy weapons be better at breaking shields than kinetic weapons. But having energy weapons deal less damage to normal mobs than basically any kinetic weapon? That means I basically only have the one weapon to use 90% of the time. Also disappointed that fun stuff like shotguns are limited to the “power weapon” slot that competes with grenade launchers and such.

Whatever.

I’m basically treating this like a non-cel-shaded Borderlands, so I’ll enjoy the ride until I don’t.

Fungible

My gaming purchasing decisions go through two processing stages:

  1. Is the game discounted from MSRP?
  2. Do I anticipate more fun spending X on this game, than X on Y game(s)?

That second step really stops the vast majority of my purchases, especially since the advent of Humble sales and similar bundles. Ironically though, I often don’t end up purchasing those cheaper, great (indie) games because they get caught in the same filter, creating a sort of recursive loop that prevents all purchases.

You will note that my backlog of games shamefully has no impact on my purchasing decision.

Last night was the final day that I could preorder 70 packs of Hearthstone’s latest expansion, Witchwood. I sat looking at the purchase screen for a long, long time. I would not say that Hearthstone is necessarily a must-play game for me, but it is something I have been playing off-and-on for… how long? Jesus Christ, five years?! Wow. How is that even possible?

What was I talking about again?

The preorder for Witchwood was $49.99. For a game I have been playing for 5 (!!!) years, that doesn’t seem like a lot. But you know what else is $49.99, listed in the same Battle.net launcher? WoW’s next expansion, Battle for Azeroth. I’m not super excited for the next expansion, but I do have $70 in BlizzBucks on my account (from selling my Legion stockpile of gold) and a New Year’s resolution to fund my Blizzard gaming using it. Between the two, WoW is absolutely going to give me more bang for my BlizzBucks.

There is also the more salient point that $50 can get you a LOT of gaming these days. An absurd amount, honestly. The current Strategy Bundle at HB will net you Endless Legends and Endless Space 2 for $12. There is a complete edition for Civ 5 which is like $15. There is something to be said about fun depth probably being better than simply time spent (e.g. just because you spend 500 hours playing Civ, doesn’t mean it’s your favorite game ever), the fact remains that you can get a lot of value for your dollar these days and games are largely fungible.

Of course, what ends up happening far too often with me is that I get in the mood to play a particular type of game, and everything that isn’t that specific game becomes less fun to play. Which means I am generally better off buying games on sale, even when I have a ridiculous backlog, in the off-chance that my hankering is satisfied with something I already bought.

Or, sometimes, I just end up playing the same damn game over and over for a long-ass time, until my mood shifts again. Have I mentioned I have 70 hours in RimWorld now? The only thing that could bring me out of this Survival kick is an update to 7 Days to Die or me deleting enough games to make room for Ark again (100+ GB, ugh).

Or until the winds change again, I suppose.

Auspicious Timing

Looked at my email earlier today, and saw these three right in a row:

SteamTiming

While I neglected to unsubscribe from the Humble Monthly before and got burned a month or two back, the current offering is something I am interested in:

Raider1

The wishlist item on sale in Steam today? Hmm:

Raider2

Technically, the above Steam offering includes the Season Pass for the game, which includes DLC that adds ~3 hours to the story, some new game modes, more outfits/weapons, and so on. You can buy the Season Pass for $12 by itself, making the Steam bundle technically cost the same as the Humble Monthly… aside from the free mystery games, of course.

Looking back years from now, Steam is still going to be known as one of those transformative phenomenons that changed the way we bought and played games. But more and more, sites like Humble Bundle are going to deserve something more of a footnote on that same page of history.

Home is Where My PC Is

And that’s moving today. Around three miles away, but still.

It’s a relatively inconvenient time though, with all the discounts and pre-expansion patches and such.

I was very, very tempted to pop the first of my nine WoW Tokens (purchased over a year ago) on Monday to ensure I wasn’t holding onto goods that would be deprecated. Then I thought through it rationally. “Okay… so I’d be spending a Token worth X amount to save… what? More than X amount?” A year of “lost” Garrison revenue has led me to believe price inflation would have rendered me non-competitive anyway, assuming I even had the time to spend dicking around the AH at the moment. Which I don’t.

Still, I will be in Legion. I haven’t decided if it will be right at the start, or later on like with Draenor.

Meanwhile, the Guild Wars 2 expansion is currently selling for $25 for another week or so. Although my attempts to get back into GW2 earlier this year didn’t go particularly well, I feel that part of that was due to the lack of buy-in. Not necessarily in forcing the feeling of investment per se, but knowing that next to none of the content I had access to would be new. Want to try the Revenant? Nope. See new zone? Denied. Living Story? Sorry, that’ll be a few thousand gems.

On the other hand, half off something I don’t ultimately end up using is 100% wasted. So we’ll see.

The last deal I wanted to mention was that current Humble Bundle in which they are selling Battleborn for basically $15. That’s gotta sting, yeah? From $60 to $15 in 2.5 months. I was tempted to pick it up… for Borderlands: the Pre-Sequel, not for Battleborn. On the other hand, I’ve mainlined Borderlands 2 to the degree that I’m not even sure I want to play that type of game anymore.

Hmm. Perhaps this move hasn’t impacted my purchasing decisions as much as I thought it has.

Game Collector

I think I just need to admit it: I no longer play games, I collect them.

There is no other explanation for what just transpired. Which was me buying the Humble Capcom Bundle, that included Resident Evil 4 & 5, Devil May Cry, and Remember Me. In my defense, it was the inclusion of Resident Evil 4 – which I have heard is one of the best in the series – and Remember Me that pushed me over the edge. In my prosecution, this was a few days after getting the Humble Weekly Bundle Valentine’s Day 2. For the pants. Or for Hatoful Boyfriend for $1. Your choice.

Indeed, the entire reason I am writing this post is as a distraction to not also pick up Grand Theft Auto 5 for ~$32. Granted, GTA 5 is on my 970 hit-list along with Far Cry 4, and this is an all-time low price. At the same time… I’m at 45 hours in Witcher 3 and I doubt even halfway done with the game. Then there’s Pillars of Eternity still languishing in my Steam account. And, you know, the literal library of other games that were purchased presumably for a reason. Don’t get me started on all those PS3 games on my shelf either.

This shit is the first-worldest of problems. And it has to get sorted out in the next three weeks because Fallout 4.

I don’t even know anymore.

Humble Bundle: Best Thing, or Worst for Indie?

Current Humble Bundle up is the Humble Indie Bundle 12, featuring:

  • SteamWorld Dig
  • Hammerwatch
  • Gunpoint
  • [BTA] Papers, Please
  • [BTA] LUFTRAUSERS
  • [BTA] Gone Home
  • [BTA] ???
  • [$10+] Prison Architect

Prison Architect by itself is a $29.99 Early Release game that has only ever hit $9.99 before… in Humble Bundle’s own store, in fact. So for the price of that one game, you get at least four other titles that have made some waves (i.e. Gaming Journalism™) in the indie scene: Gunpoint, Papers Please, LUFTRAUSERS, and Gone Home. Granted, most of these were topical back in 2013, but still, those four games were on my watch list (and I even bought two of them last year) without even considering Prison Architect.

As some Reddit commenters point out though, it is precisely bundles like this one that cement the “bundle or bust” mentality that surrounds indie games. I mean, let’s face it, I probably shouldn’t be buying any more games anyway, but it’s to the point these days that I don’t even bother checking Steam sales for most of these titles. If I hadn’t bought Gunpoint and Papers, Please last year, I could have gotten even more consumer surplus for that sweaty Hamilton. Which makes me think “maybe I should remove Transistor, Spelunky, Banished, Child of Light, and Ironclad Tactics from my Steam wishlist and wait for a bundle sale.”

Is that good for, well, anybody? I’ll save some dollars at the expense of being topical and relevant, perhaps. I suppose the creators of SteamWorld Dig and Hammerwatch get a win in the form of a “sale” that they would likely have never made otherwise. Who knows, maybe I’ll find those games super fun and end up eagerly awaiting their next release? Of course, by “eagerly awaiting” I likely mean eagerly waiting for the next bundle.