Sunday, June 10, 2012

Buying New Releases: It's Better to Wait

I don't understand the appeal of buying new releases as they come out. I guess there's something appealing about being at the forefront of a cultural gaming experience, being one of the first people to play the newest, hottest game, and discovering things while they're still truly undiscovered. That element can be pretty exciting, but the more rational side of me feels that it's better to wait a year or more until after release before buying a game.

New releases cost $50-60, a pretty significant chunk of money, especially if you're buying multiple releases per month. By waiting a year, you can buy games while they're still fairly new at a much more reasonable price, sometimes in the $20-30 range. Sometimes games launch with problems that don't get patched out until later; if you bought the game on day one, you can be left playing a less-than-perfect version, possibly even finishing it before the patch even arrives. Developers are also getting into the habit of releasing new content after release, either as free updates or as paid DLC. By waiting, you can have all of the updates available for a single playthrough in one complete package.

It's been many, many years since I pre-ordered any games because it was just more economical to wait. I broke this trend with Risen 2, and I almost regret that decision because I ended up playing the entire game in a flawed state. When they released the next bit of DLC, I thought maybe that would give me an incentive to replay the game with the new patch updates, but by that point I was finished and ready to move on. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was another that I'd considered pre-ordering, but by waiting a year I was able to buy it for $30 and skip right to the mega patch for the Enhanced Edition, the definitive version of the game. 

Part of me wonders whether I'll be missing out on the Enhanced Edition experience by not having played the original version to be able to appreciate all of the changes it made. I suppose that's a minor drawback, but in the grand scheme of things it seems like the better deal. 

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