The Burning Question: Buying games at launch – is it worth it?

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We live in tough times. Over the weekend I was discussing the price of games with a friend and we laughed about the cost of R50 for an NES games, those knockoff ones. The SEGA Mega Drive (the generation thereafter) had games selling between R200 and R350, the PS1 introduced the cost of R450 on average, the PS2 days brought it to about R600 average, PS3 and Xbox 360 era had games shooting up to R700 average (later more – and the PS3 at launch was a joke) and now in this generation we’re feeling it at roughly R999 average. It’s expensive being a person with any hobby, and gamers are feeling it too. The question is – should it matter that much? Should you care about games at launch?

In the past, and some readers would have seen me interacting and sharing my thoughts on the subject matter many times, I would have said you should wait a year and you’ll get the same game with all the DLC and extras at half the cost. In my eyes, you’re getting a ‘pre-internet era’ game as the full package a year later. Imagine Separate Ways that starred Ada Wong in Resident Evil 4 launched in this generation. You think you’d get that DLC for free? Not a chance. You’d pay for it, and a year later you’d get it in some Game of the Year Edition bundled in. That’s what has become of the gaming world we live in. But, something even more spectacular happened in the last few weeks.

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Towards the latter part of last year, it took a mere few weeks for Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 to drop close to 50% off the launch cost. I thought that EA was being generous because of the festive season, Black Friday and all those exciting ‘leading up to the holiday’ feels. Then a few weeks after that The Last Guardian launched and four weeks thereafter, we saw another massive price drop on it. Now, these specials aren’t permanent, but they’re available for a limited time if you want it AND, more importantly, not that long after launch. So the question is – why would you want to buy games at launch these days?

Battling FOMO is one thing, but your common logic should tell you that you can save lots of your money by waiting a month these days. In the worst case, waiting 6 months will have the game drop down in price to next to nothing. Should you want a physical copy of the game you’ll have to wait a little longer, but it will drop in price before you know it. If it’s a game you’ve been dying to play and is best played online with friends it’s probably a good idea to get it at launch before the excitement dies down, but it’s not like the single player story is going anywhere. Yes, you’ll feel a bit sad that you can’t enjoy it along with others and you’ll have to avoid spoilers, but instead of buying one game you’ll likely buy two for the same price, or more. There are also those of you who buy games at launch, complete it, and then sell it off a week or two later at a reduced cost. It’s a model that works, because of the physical value.

Buying games at launch has just become something that makes no logical sense these days thanks to price drops. This, of course, affects retailers when it comes to pre-orders, but here at SA Gamer we’re here for you – the guy/gal who works his/her a$$ off to buy that one special game every two months. We would rather you walk away with two instead.

So how do you feel about the current climate we find ourselves in? Do you think that buying games at launch is still worth it?

Married to a gamer and she kicks my ass at most shooters. If the game is enjoyable I'll play it, no matter the format.

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