The Pauper Way to Game

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I want one, but can't afford one. Can you?

You know that frustration factor when you’ve gone into your local coffee house to pick up your morning pick-me-up, you ask for your usual; you watch it get made and as the person behind the counter hands it over to you, you reach for your wallet and… it’s not there!? The buck stops right there with you clutching at your bum in a vain attempt to somehow will your wallet back into existence, but it just won’t happen. With no paper, no plastic and no charm you just have to watch that lovely coffee get poured down the sink in front of you. It’s a strange analogy, but – “welcome to my life as a poor gamer”!!!

Maybe I should explain further for you rich folks scratching your expensive-hair-product-lathered heads; I have been watching games like Test Drive Unlimited 2, LBP2, L.A Noire, The Last Guardian, and so on come into being from their conception. I have followed the developer’s videos, scoured the internet for new bites of info, trawled through reams of fanboy forum fights to root out those precious little truffles of information that give a better idea of what’s to come, and why? Because I love gaming, because I am a gamer through and through. I thrive on the new experiences created for us by the biggest media industry we have today. Also, because I have an oddly insatiable appetite for new, shiny things – hey, it’s part of my DNA okay! I can’t help it! The downside (and explanation part) to this, is my coffee house analogy.

PhotobucketI’ve been there watching these games being created, I’ve imagined the possibilities of the game in question – imagined playing it, I’ve anticipated the cost and put a little something to the side, I’m sure I can cover it and just as it’s announced for release I realise that I can’t afford it! An unexpected bill for council tax or the garage bill from ages ago, someone you owe money to or something unrelated but financial gets in the way. And just like that, the possibility of it all is gone. Don’t feel bad. You’ve only been following its creation in anticipation for what, two years? You can surely find the money in another six or so months once it drops in price, right? At least that’s what I keep telling myself, hell, I even manage to put a positive spin on it and make the whole situation sound intentional.

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Oh, sure! I always hang back to see how well a game does before I buy it”

Or there’s always the famous…

By holding back for half a year, I can pick up fairly new games at almost half the price they were at launch – yay me!”

Rubbish! Twaddle! Codswallop!!! If I had the dosh, I’d fill my bath full with new releases and roll around in them naked, then grin as I sold them on to GAME later on. Seriously though for us “poor” gamers it can be a hard struggle at times, and especially when there are multiple AAA titles being released simultaneously. Thankfully the industry knows better than to tread on its own feet (most of the time) so they come out bit by bit. Yet it’s always the same; month after month I watch as title after title passes me by and I’m left reading about other people’s experiences with these games. Usually derogatory, usually whiny comments about how there’s not enough blood or how it fails completely because the draw distance is a little off. Spoiled brats.

The situation isn’t getting any better either, with pay-per-month plans becoming more popular for MMOs or online passes looking increasingly common for new games. Then there’s the obligatory DLC packs to flesh out the game you just dropped 40 smackers on; what, only £4.99 for a few new maps!? The essential £40 a year just to access the multiplayer aspect of Xbox games and the “take it or leave it” £40 for a year of PSN Plus. The 3DS is said to be placed into the £250 category on release; who knows what the NGP (PSP2) will cost. Add to all this the worrying trend of download only games that cost roughly the same as their physical counterparts (minus the cost of shipment, printing, packaging etc.) and you get a very stressed, very sad, “poor” gamer watching his entertainment get poured down the sink of finance in front of him.

There’s no doubt that the secondhand market makes an impact on a developer’s final financial result, but is it really so damaging that they are “pushed” into doing things like release-timed content? I understand that as an incentive, but that train of thought could lead to nasty consequences for late adopters. Take for example Dragon Age: Origins on PS3. There was extra content available but only for a certain length of time which meant you either bought the game at full price now, or wait for a price to suit your purse and miss out on the extra “free” stuff. Should this kind of baiting be allowed within this industry? Wouldn’t there be an outcry if the BBC were allowed to show the full version of a film, but every other TV company could only show a cut version after a set amount of time?

There’s no escaping that in this day and age, games can cost a lot of money to produce, the kind of money that your little bank account is unable to comprehend. It cost Naughty Dog around 20 million (apparently) to make Uncharted, and about the same was needed for Killzone 2; MGS4 was rumoured to be nearly twice that amount. We could break it all down and work out who gets what slice of the pie but then I’d just be procrastinating my point, which is; being poor and being a gamer sucks donkey balls… BIG TIME!

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Written by R.Furie

Ross has been playing games since he can remember and has had games machines around him all his life. He's what we now refer to as "Old Skool" because he grew up playing games with a hand carved wooden joystick on a TV forged from rope and stone. Nourished on a diet of Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Joust, Gauntlet, Bomber Jack and other various wholesome arcades he has grown to become a versatile and open minded gamer. Favouring the style of open-world games he's sure VR can't be far away, and looks forward to attaching himself to a colostomy bag and slipping into a deep VR coma so he need never have to deal with real life again.

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