Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Worth the Wait : A little patience can get a great game for cheap!

What gamer hasn't been excited at least once by the announcement of a new triple-A  game.   It's tempting, especially if it's another installment in a much loved series like Call of Duty or Battlefield.

The glitzy E3 announcements, polished trailer videos and all those special goodies (gotta have that Fallout 4 backpack right?) just for being one of "the first" to have a new game on launch day are a few of the carefully crafted enticements provided by multi-million dollar marketing departments who only exist to get you to part with as much of your hard earned cash as they can. 

But if we're honest, we know that we've been fooled before and more often than not if it's our own money we're spending there's going to be at least some degree of buyer's remorse.

I'm not one of those people that  you'd call flush with the green stuff so I've adopted some hard and fast rules when it comes to new games based on years of experience.

The reality is that gamers are getting older and with age one would hope comes at least some wisdom. 

If not, well,  you're probably playing with your fingers and toes right about now anyway so I can't help you .  However, if you've got more patience than a 5 year old and understand that nobody really cares if you're in the first 100,000 to play a game on launch day, you could score some great deals.

It's a policy I call, "Worth the Wait."

It's not just a statement, it's a call to action or rather INACTION!

It goes like this:  Instead of paying extra for pre-orders or full price on release day just sit back and watch the madness for awhile.

Besides, I've yet to see a game launch in the past 10 years that didn't have major screw-up's.  That's usually followed up by gigabytes of patch updates not to mention server outages and sluggish rollouts of  driver support from the likes of AMD and Nvida.

The not so well-kept dirty little secret is that a video game is never really "done" and never is that more true than on launch day.  Release schedules have to be met even if the code hasn't been passed through QA.  That means what your Pre-order really bought you was the right to be among the first to be stuck at the launch screens for hours.  Yay!

All things that can make you wonder what it was you were so excited about in the first place.
Don't do that to yourself. 

Wait awhile, there's very real benefit (and value) to patience and you usually end up getting more for less.

For example, Let's take a look at the initial releases of TitanFall, Battlefield 4 and Battlefront.  Yeah, I know all EA titles but their wildly inflated pre-orders, aggressive marketing and ultimate fire sales are the best examples of how you can get the best deal (AKA VALUE) just by waiting a bit.
Let's start with TitanFall. 

In 2014, Respawn Entertainment was looking for a vehicle to thumb their noses at former employers Activision. Under EA's umbrella, they released TitanFall and the rest was as they say, history.  The game's launch was the typical EA Triple-A release with the now standard $60 price tag for the standard version and "collector's editions" going for twice that price not to mention a special Xbox One bundle for $500.

Many people bought it and not long after many were wondering why they paid so much...

In the year after launch, EA would continually push "free weekends" through its Origin client to little effect.  The price finally settled down to around $20 for the "Deluxe" version just this past Christmas.

In effect the less than stellar sales forced EA to resort to the same tactic they tried a year earlier to boost the epic failure that was Medal of Honor: Warfighter.    

Predictably, on launch the game had the now familiar issues with server outages ( particularly on Xbox) glitches and seemingly endless patches.  A year or so out, prices were cut in half and all those gameplay  issues were a distant memory.   It was never the mess that Warfighter was.  It was just a multiplayer version of Call of Duty with Mechs.  The problem was it got old fast without a regular stream of DLC. 

That should have been very much in line with EA's DLC Disease business strategy but content was slow to arrive and launch day content was kind of thin.  That's why it got cheap fast.

But it's not a bad game and the best part is that you didn't really miss anything but a lot of pain by waiting.  Well, unless you've got a YouTube gaming channel dependant on hyping new releases.  You don't see many Titanfall videos but then again who cares.

The last I checked, all that delicious DLC is FREE!

Next case...

Battlefield 4... Heh, my favorite whipping boy.  A game with so much promise yet such horrible execution that EA's mishandling of the launch landed them in court.  Server outages, crashes, Blue Screens, slipping DLC release schedules and a broken game engine that developer DICE could do little more than band-aid. 

That's why Battlefront launched with a completely new game engine shared with Battlefield 1. 

All that aside, however, the game that launched in late 2013 has in 3 years gone from $120 for the "premium" edition ( $50 for the standard edition) to as little as $15 for the Deluxe edition today.  If you happened to own the "Premium" version of the game last year there's no doubt you were  feeling at least a little foolish when  EA decided to make all the  DLC packs free.  You literally could have picked up the base game for $10 at one point and had the same amount of content as if you paid 10x more just a few months earlier.

That's what I call a patience payoff... 

The best part is now that Battlefield 4 has put most of its problems behind it you can get a great deal without suffering those launch day blues.

On to the most recent EA money Grab, Star Wars: Battlefront

Battlefront was little more than a refresh of the original EA game series from the early 2000's with the added marketing tie-in to the release of "Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens"   

It was built on top of EA's newest tweak to the Frostbite 3 game engine (yes THAT Frostbite 3)  A few minutes in Battlefield 1's setup screens and  map style bear it out. 

Battlefront has finally made it to my list of games worth waiting for.  On launch the game was horribly overpriced with standard editions being upwards of $60 and some versions closer to $200.  A year later?  The "Deluxe" edition could be had for as little as $13 from EA during the holiday sale.  The normal price is $39.99 which in itself is a $20 drop off launch. 

The lesson here? There's nothing wrong with waiting.  Even popular games like the 2014 hit Watchdogs originally going for as much as $70 on launch day could be had for as little as $9 during the recent  Steam holiday sale.

Watchdogs had its own issues including server outages and glitches on launch by the way.  Now, you can reap the benefits of everyone else who PAID  FULL PRICE to be BETA TESTERS for the rest  of us.

I feel I owe the rabid fanboys a note of thanks for that one...

Now some may say that if everyone did this the game developers would go out of business.  To that I say, BULLSHIT.

I've been writing about gaming for 6 years now and one thing I know for certain is that the old adage of "a fool and his money are soon parted" has never been more true than with video games.  Rabid fans of a franchise will beg, borrow or steal to be the first to get a new game and pay a premium price to do so.  Luckily for the EA, Ubisoft and Activisions of the world,  there's a lot of them out there and God bless 'em for it.

If they've got the money to waste, I say let them.  I'm more than happy to have someone else pay for me to have a better experience later on.  If you've got a bit more maturity than a 12 year old, you can do the same.

And why wouldn't you?  

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