I can recall a time very long ago in a far away land where I was just a young lad. I rarely had the money to buy new video games for myself, nor could I handle the responsibility of making such choices if I’m being honest. Sure, there were the occasional instances where I would have a handful of cash from a Birthday or chores, but that was rare. When I did have cash between the ages of – I don’t know – let’s say 8-14, I can tell you that most often this cash was spent on new games.

It was a rewarding experience to run into the local Electronics Boutique, spend an uncomfortable length of time browsing the shelves, and buy a new game. The infrequency of playing new games made Christmas the best day of the year more times than not.

Remember Blockbuster? I find myself missing the experience of visiting those lousy stores to pick out a fresh game to play for the weekend with some friends. Was it a drag whenever they were all out of the game you had your eye on? Sure, but it made it that much more exciting to find the rental copy behind one of the retail boxes.

We’ve now entered into a completely different era. I don’t have to inform you that Blockbuster met its demise. They did. They were shot in the knee caps by Netflix and Redbox. Then they screamed “OH MY GOD MY KNEEES” and crawled around pathetically until they bled out. Finally, Dish Network chopped up their remains and liquidated them. It was a dreadful scene.

Come on, admit you miss it a little.

Come on, admit you miss it a little.

There are a breadth of options available to shop for new games with. PC gamers have all but abandoned physical copies of games with the use of the Steam Store and – occasionally, begrudgingly – Origin. Interestingly enough, Microsoft flirted with the prospect of a similar endeavor with its latest console before internet outrage forced them to back off. Apparently console gamers care more about physical copies of games than PC gamers? Or, perhaps it’s all more about having the choice.

Still, the fact remains that if you are a PC gamer, you probably do most of your business with Steam or some other outlet that allows you to download games to your machine instantly. Why wouldn’t you? It’s convenient and usually faster than driving out to a brick and mortar store.

The trend towards downloadable game purchases has led to Steam sales (more specifically, the Summer Sale) and Humble Bundles. Don’t take this the wrong way, I like both of those things. They’ve allowed me to play a handful of great games for the cost of a meal at a fast food restaurant.

Unfortunately, they’ve also taken a lot of the wonder out of the process by loading my Steam library up with games that I will probably never play. The sight of such a large group of games that I have effectively zero interest in trying depresses me.

Some devs have complained that Steam sales and Humble Bundles have hurt their profits, expressing that gamers will often pass over full price games in hopes of them going on sale at some point later down the road. It’s challenging to argue that point, as that is usually the case when I go shopping on Steam. So many games cycle in and out of sales that you feel a risk of paying $20 for a game that could be $5 in a month.

The market is absolutely flooded right now. So many new games are being released that budgeting your money wisely to get your hands on the right ones is a real challenge. In a perfect world, games would be priced at points that are affordable enough that rampant Steam sales were no longer necessary. We could make the choice to buy games that we actually want, rather than waiting to see what goes on sale or buying up a bunch of titles we never actually cared about just because the allure of a tiny price tag is too strong to pass up.

What do you think? Are the business practices that resulted in your huge library of unplayed games holding developers back?

Featured Image Credit: champdude17

About The Author

John

John is a full-time web developer who writes and streams for multitoad.com. He started Multitoad with Luke "Yogzula" VanTrieste. John loves multiplayer gaming, his wife (known around the site as Queenie), his dog (Marble), horror movies, and sitting down with a nice craft beer. If you want to contact the author of this post, feel free to do so on the community forums.

4 Responses

  1. Yoshibb

    I totally miss Blockbuster. There is something more fun about going to a physical store and browsing the shelves. You don’t get the same feeling from clicking around on Steam. Honestly, I don’t often buy games online from Steam unless I really want them. Just like I’m not going to go to the mall and buy a shirt I don’t need just cause it’s on sale.

    Many people have also complained about Steam’s lack of product control. Letting games like Air Control to be sold for $10 is a joke, but it happens more that people think. So that is hurting the industry. But there are bigger things nowadays, like the fact that a lot of companies only seem interested in profits rather than fun nowadays so they churn out as much crap as they can and people will buy it. This has even crept its way into the independent market as well.

    Reply
  2. Luke
    Luke "Yogzula" VanTrieste

    You’ve pointed out a few interesting things. When I was younger and got to go to funcoland and later EB / gamestop and pick out a game it was a thrilling experience. Whatever game I got, no matter how good or bad it was, I was going to beat. I ended up getting a few games I absolutely adored and some I really didn’t care for much. Even the bad and mediocre games still ended up being good experiences just because I beat them and they’ve given me some perspective.

    Now I have SO many games in my library that I’m spoiled and that magic is gone. I have a few great titles like bioshock and dishonored that I’ve never even gotten around to playing. Part of this dilema is because I’ve become far more interested in multiplayer experiences than single player so I find it hard to make time for the later, but it’s also because I’m overwhelmed by indecision.

    As far as developers losing money because people think the game might go on sale later – who cares? People are right. The game WILL go on sale later, generally. The worst the game looks the more people assume it will be on sale for even cheaper. Alien: Colonial Marines was a game I had my eye on. I could have bought it full price because I thought it looked cool especially in concept. Instead I waited. The game was trash and before a few months it went from 39.99 all the way down to 7 dollars on sale constantly.

    If developers want to sell their games at full price they have to make good games that people can trust in buying. We’re seeing the same kind of shovelware bullshit that destroyed the gaming industry in the 80s except now games have more dimensions so it’s harder to raise awareness of. A pong clone is easy to spot as a pong clone. A CoD clone only has to change some skins here or there and because of the vastness of modern games it’s harder to raise awareness that this shit is all the same. I think people are finally starting to see that now.

    I’ll buy a game full price when I’m assured it’s a great game but usually that also requires it to have multiplayer. GTA V has already been preordered and is an example of this. It’s a fantastic game that keeps getting attention to become even better. Reliability is key.

    Reply
  3. Whitemoon
    Whitemoon

    Boy do I miss Blockbuster, what a boat load of memories…

    Probably played half the titles on SNES by rentals alone. There was some magic for me lost when everything came in disc. Something about loading up a cartridge and someone’s save is already there. Laughter or envy ensue as you get a personal glimpse of the progress they were able to make.

    I definitely agree that Steam sales have ruined the sparkle in my heart. I have 250+ games and while I ACTUALLY have played what I consider a good portion of that pile, the accumulation of the pile has not left me feeling well.

    During the first ever Steam Summer Sale, it was a blast and that was probably the craziest sale they had ($700 publisher bundles for $50). Since then the magic is gone and people just await the inevitable sales. It has become ridiculous that a game sold at a VERY reasonable $20 struggles to sell in between the Summer and Christmas madness.

    It has seemed to me in the last year the sales have actually been toned down. Items do not get as high of a discount or even marked down at all. I think this indicates that Valve can see the problem and is trying to awkwardly amend it by making the sales less crazy and conditioning customer spending. A hand for the ‘Occasionally Morally Guided Valve.’

    Reply
  4. PhantomShadowz
    PhantomShadowz

    I’m still really bad when it comes to Steam sales, mainly because of all the reasons you guys have already listed above.

    I personally don’t want my Steam collection to be 200+ titles of games that I haven’t bothered to play because I have too many.

    Reply

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