Think Piece – 2018: The Year I’ll Buy No Games

Games in 2018 have a lot of buzzwords that can liter their nametags at yearly reunions. The Year of the Switch, Year of Microsoft’s Continued White Noise, the Year of Sony Running Out the Clock, take your pick. In my own little sphere, which spreads about as far as my T-Rex wingspan, I’ll arbitrarily attach 2018 to the concept of not buying games and yet still enjoying them in their many splendors.

In a sentence, I, a video game loving digital son with lots of spare income, have not purchased a single game in any form yet during this calendar year and won’t for the remainder of it.

Games
Not this year, Satan!

My stance on buying video games has been peppered throughout a few reviews you’ll find here. To put it succinctly, I do not approach every new release as though it’s now or never. I can’t. My mind can barely conjure up enough excitement for my second or third tier priorities in life, let alone another chance to drop increasing amounts of money on what doesn’t pan out 9 times out of 10. That’s just because I’m not a cheer-in-the-aisles kind of supporter. I believe that a purchase at launch is a vote of support, and there are few candidates I can bank on delivering the goods consistently.

On average, I’ve bought about 12 games a year since adulting fully (say 2012), which breaks down something like this:

 

Total Games Purchased

(2012 – 2017)

New Games Purchased

(2012 – 2017)

Used Games Purchased

(2012 – 2017)

12 per year 2 per year 10 per year
60 total 10 total 50 total

 

Considering that somewhere in the neighborhood of 88.5 million pieces of new software was sold in 2015 alone – which was considered a low-point year – I’m barely pulling my weight.

I knew I wouldn’t really miss buying new games since they’re so infrequent and votes I don’t necessarily need to cast. I did feel, however, that used games not happening for a whole year would stamp down my palate considerably. There’s something palpable to having so many options available as walking through a Gamestop or equivalent, especially when you approach games in general with a fairly open mind as I believe I do. My fingers can feel the plastic along the cases as a pianist strokes the keys before writing a symphony. Anticipation flies as the dust is all and can lead to something much more lasting.

Commercialism relies upon the commercial to thrive; you have to behold what you’re being offered in order to generate any level of fandom. In that sense, I will argue that those used games that Microsoft and others tried so hard to kill actually save game series and bottom lines. There’s so much salt in my spoon for each and every scripted gameplay reveal and trailer that I can hardly taste anything else, so my main advertisement is grabbing the game used, giving it a try, and making an informed decision from there. Both the Borderlands and Dark Souls series snatched me into complete obsession with this strategy, igniting that subtle click you feel when you just dive into something just your size. Organic discovery, to me, is the ultimate commercial.

My reasons for flying into this abstinent state are one-fourth financial, two-fourths experimental, and one-fourth wanting to see the world burn (that ones constant). It’s not any sort of protest against the landscape of the games stratus, just a piece of social experimentation that has saved me a fair amount of money in the process. That’s a win-win.

Yet, I was and remain curious as to how I’d take to the difference mentally and speaking to a place beyond monetary savings; would I feel like my gaming rhythm would turn too compressed or stretched?

Games
Gamefly has helped a lot with Micro Reviews too.

Going back to where I do lose, there have been a handful of games that I would’ve bought new without a second thought. God of War would’ve been one, then Dark Souls Remastered another, several indie games; probably something else this fall I’m not remembering immediately. It’s a loss of immediate money for those companies and, in some cases, a delayed sense of experience and gratification for me.

For the most part, I’ve been able to keep my discovery options open with Gamefly and Redbox, swimming through older PS4 games and smaller Switch goodies I may have missed. That improbable sustainability has been supplemented with my sizable backlog to create quite a list for me to pull from for this site and my own curiosity.

For number lovers, here’s what I’ve been able to/will save this year with this strategy:

 

2018 Totals # of Games (New) # of Games

(Used)

Total Cost

(for GS, assuming $25 avg used price)

+/-
Gamefly 0 0 $209.64 -160.34
Gamestop 2 10 $369.98 +160.34

 

The financial aspects are only one side – one-quarter to be precise – of what I’m looking at, so what about the other quarters? What am I missing out on with that savings, and is it worth the price tag?

As with most of these balance tests in today’s society, it comes down to time saved. I have to wait for a disc to arrive at my door from a smaller selection of inventory as opposed to immediate gratification from a larger, but not comprehensive, selection. Take Nier for the PlayStation 3: a curiosity that’s grown substantially thanks to Nier: Automata’s absolutely stellar expression of pain and combat acumen. Gamefly has it for rent while Gamestop is asking $35 smackers for a taste at present. For this example, disregard all the discounts that could go into lowering that price; Gamestop’s would simply cost more to own Nier than Gamefly would be to just experience.

Nier
You’ll be hearing more from me about Nier at some point….

Time certainly has value to me as a third-dimensional dweller but I’ve never prescribed much to the idea of money equaling time in the same intrinsic fashion. Money doesn’t equal time any more than kissing equals marriage; neither currency can even be mistaken for one another in my eyes. So then, why am I even bothering with this experiment in the first place?

To put the proof in my pudding is the short answer. Giving weight to your own words can be a powerful sign post that you’re onto something or way off, as the case may be, and putting up something you love is one of the best ways to make sure you see results through to their conclusion. And since someone called the cops the last time I put up my first born….

Through now July, I’ve loved the flexibility on the inverse of time’s burden on gaming; with Gamefly, the game eventually comes to me and then I can game at my pace. Gamestop, or similar, asks for the opposite – a commitment on your end to fit their schedule. Again, I’m not inherently against ponied-up money on a metaphorical opening day, but experiments like this remind me that I don’t have to. For all the advertisements and talking heads and trailers that all-out beg otherwise, saying no can seem like a pressure wrested from the last social pariah but it’s not. You and I don’t have to go to Gamestop to buy games or buy into something that we ultimately feel nothing over.

It feels freeing to have that kind of middle ground that doesn’t necessarily slag down the game industry but doesn’t shy away from it either. Options are a gamer’s best friend. Never forget that you also have options as a consumer to wring your own gaming entertainment from the industry, and at your own pace.

What do you think of my little games experiment? Let me know below!

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