Tony’s Time: Gaming On a Budget
I’ve been looking over the past couple of days at my gaming habits lately. The first thing I realized was that I was playing way too many games. That’s not what I’m here to talk about today though. The other thing I realized was I don’t have to spend $60 to get a good game. I can spend $60 and get a larger number of great games. Not all of these games come from Nintendo platforms, but some of them do. That’s what I’m going to talk about today. Why do we spend $60 to get one game on a system that might not be that good when you can spend the same amount of money and get a large number of great games?
The first answer to that is that it’s just what it costs to get a game these days on the major consoles. Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony have sort of set those prices at $50 and $60 respectively for most retail releases. The biggest reason for this is that budgets have sky rocketed for games. Games that used to cost $500,000 now cost upwords of $14,000,000. Most of that, they’ll tell you comes from high definition graphics of this generation of gaming. I’m here to tell you that doesn’t have to be the case.
Let’s look at what I’ve bought in the last few weeks. The first was a PC game on Steam, Torchlight. This is a game brought to you by some of the minds behind the original Diablo and Diablo II for the PC. It’s a dungeon crawling, loot-fest that will take a large number of hours to complete for one character. There are three different characters to choose from that vary the style of play between them so you have different experiences each time you play. The game’s graphical style borrows heavily from World of Warcraft and looks gorgeous on my laptop. It will run on just about anything and that makes it a great value for anyone looking for a great RPG. The game cost me $20.
The next one, an XBLA game, The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom cost me $10 to download. It’s a puzzle game where you play as a man obsessed with pie and you have to solve different puzzles using time warping, cloning and ingenuity to obtain the pastries you so desire. It uses an early 20th century silent movie visual style and was designed originally as a college thesis.
I also repurchased Plants Vs. Zombies on PC for $10 because I had the game originally through a subscription service that ran out, but I wanted to play the game. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played through the adventure mode of that game and the numerous mini-games that come packaged with it. For $10 I’ve lost countless days and weeks of actual time since it was released planting pea shooters and defending my house from the undead hordes.
On WiiWare I’ve spent $20 to purchase Blaster Master Overdrive and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. The first is the re-imagining of an NES game that takes about 8 hours to play through. Chances are I’ll play it again, because that’s what you do with NES games. They’re simple and fun and you just like playing them over again. Phoenix Wright is just a port of the DS version, but it’s a faithful port that’s fun to play and will take a good amount of time to finish. Both of these games, while not gorgeous to look at are very well done in the graphical department.
For $60 I was able to purchase four games, that will ultimately take me more time to play through that most retail releases. They’re all great games that will make their developers a lot of money, if they haven’t already. Then we have upcoming releases like Mega Man 10 that will get more of my money and will be another time sink because Mega Man does that to people. The challenge alone will be enough to last 5-6 hours the first play through and then just learning the different ways to defeat the different Robot Masters will add even more time, not to mention the challenges, speed runs and fun that will just keep piling on time.
I’m the type of gamer that lives on a very tight budget. I don’t have money to go out and get new games every week, or sometimes every month. I purchase less than 10 new retail games every year and many of my games are gifts from family members. I do however have the cash to spend $20 on a new title every once in a while and $10 are very justifiable purchases. I would love to see the game industry go more this direction of releasing smaller games for smaller dollar amounts that still give a lot of enjoyment. Why not every once in a while release an RPG that is similar to what we saw on the Super Nintendo? Square did it not long ago with Final Fantasy IV: the After Years and in a way that made the purchase much more bearable and quite frankly easy to do. I’m sure there are a lot of gamers out there like me that would be interested in seeing this.
Microsoft has done something similar to Final Fantasy IV with Fable II. With that game you download an initial hour or so of the game and everything after that you pay for in chunks. You may end up spending the same amount of money, but broken up over time it makes it a much more worthwhile and easier purchase to make. That also gives gamers the ability to really give a game a try and if they don’t like it they’re not out very much money. If they do they can purchase the game in their own time frame. The developers still get the money and the player has made a purchase they might not have made in the past.
With the economy the way it is many gamers are becoming more frugal and you’re starting to see there are more gamers out there like me who are looking for the best value for their money. If I can get Diablo for $20 by playing Torchlight or Diablo for $60 when Diablo III releases I’m going to choose the $20 option. There are a number of ways out there that companies are trying to make purchases more palatable for players and it’s just a matter of time before one of them really sticks and you see that model becoming more and more successful. Personally, I like the digital method of getting high value, replayable games for $10 over getting an experience like Modern Warfare that I’ll play through once or twice for $60 and getting less time with the game.