November is a huge month for the video game market. There have been ton of big title releases over the last few weeks, and video gamers everywhere are both rejoicing and lamenting. Rejoicing as fantastic Triple A titles are released, and lamenting because their wallets are empty. Good news for the financially struggling gamer, however, as there is hardly any good reason to buy a video game at launch anymore. Sure, you get access to all the new content ahead of everyone else, and sure, there’s plenty of inside jokes you may miss out on. However, buying a video game at launch is nothing but trouble these days, and here’s why.
The Game is Broken
It’s become normal for a game to launch with bugs. I mean, it’s understandable that with a huge, global launch in a gigantic game, there’s bound to be bugs here and there. Differing PC hardware isn’t recognized properly, and perhaps a few side-quests or graphics are a bit off. These things are to be expected. What’s not expected is that the game is completely broken. Multiple video games were launched on without the necessary hardware testing ahead of time, meaning that if you happened to be trying to play the game with the wrong hardware, you’re just going to have to wait until they patch the game to actually play it.
The Game is Expensive
Unlike some commodities, you can always count on the price of a video game to go down. Sure, some of the big name titles will stay at its launch price for a year or two. Other, incredible rare games, like old NES games that are no longer in production, will actually go up in value. With the advent of PC games being launched almost entirely digitally, though, you never have to worry about the retailers running out of copies or the game going out of print. As technology and games move along, the price of older games will invariably drop, letting you get the same content for less – just a little bit later. Some games drop in price within weeks, like the fabled game Duke Nukem Forever, which dropped 1/3 in price in 3 months, and to half price in 4.
The Content is Missing
DLC is a hot topic in the gaming market today. Now publishers don’t release the full game just once. They release the main game, and then they offer downloadable content to add pieces bit by bit over the game’s lifespan. This extends the life of the game, as well as increases the bank account of the publisher. By waiting until after launch, you can usually purchase a version of the game that comes with the DLC included for a far more reasonable price. To further add to the issue, there is always user generated content that is missing at the launch of the game. I purchased Little Big Plant near its launch day, for example, but I quickly beat the game and grew bored. 2 years later, I picked it up and played it again for hours upon hours using solely user generated maps and content – something that was obviously absent at launch. If I had waited a few months, I wouldn’t have had such a poor first impression of the game, and I would have gotten it for cheaper too!
The Content is Disappointing
Big game publishers have gigantic marketing budgets. It’s their job to pump you up about the game, get your mouth salivating over what you expect the game will be like. You wait in anticipation, you check the net daily for updates, you stare at each detail of preview footage. When the game comes out you camp outside Best Buy waiting to get it, excitedly bring it home, but when you play the game, you get a little sad. The next day, you’re even sadder, as the emotion and the feeling that you were expecting to be there just isn’t, and you’re not sure why. The game might be good, sure, but it’s not great, and that’s what you had been lead to believe would be true. A famous example, Dead Island, released a fantastic emotional trailer – that completely mislead gamers as to how the game would actually be. As a result, thousands of people were dissappointed with Dead Island, as the content let them down. Waiting for the game to come out lets you find out how the game is actually going to be played and presented, and lets you save money only purchasing the games you know you’re going to like.
The Service is Down
With so many games being tied to an online service, it’s only a matter of time before a game launches and while the game is fine, the online service prevents the game from being played. Oh wait, it’s already happened – numerous times. Assassin’s Creed 2 was tied to an online authentication server that had a hard time staying online – meaning that you can’t play your game until they figure out how to get their servers up and running consistently. Battlefield 3 was launched with their online service – Origin, which has had plenty of problems running on people’s systems, not to mention charging people multiple times for the same game. Even Steam, back when it was launched with HL2, was completely broken upon launch. Games that launch with a new online service are almost always going to have issues upon launch, and are just one more reason to never purchase a game at launch.
Do you buy video games at launch? Why or why not?