Recently there's been some excitement on the gaming podcasts and websites I look at about the summer drought of good new games coming to an end with the release of Darksiders II and Sleeping Dogs, followed by the release of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. While these both look like good games and have reviewed well, I don't quite understand how it's possible for people, in this generation, to be so hungry for new games and not have anything to play unless they play for huge chunks of time every day, or have very specific tastes. There's just so much good stuff out there playable on the current systems that I find it hard to believe most people don't have some four or five star game that they wanted to play but just never got a chance to for whatever reason. Even games journalists have holes in the library of games they've played, as demonstrated by discussions on the bombcast.
Personally I tend to play games long after they are released and the hype wave has receded. There are some exceptions; generally games that particularly appeal to me for whatever reason, but even games I know I will absolutely love often get put aside for months or more. The last 3 games I've played are Jak II off the HD collection, L.A. Noire, and now the original Darksiders. All three have held up fine, with Jak II definitely showing some age in design (checkpoints anyone?) but also being somewhat refreshing in its generational differences. I doubt they would have been particularly more fun when they originally came out, and I also don't feel like the newest releases necessarily have anything on them. Game design and technology does advance both from generation to generation, and during a given generation, but the advancements are slow and uneven, and the cream of the crop from the past tends to, in my opinion, outshine the generic filler games of the present. Super Mario Bros. will always be better than Blade Kitten, be it 2010, 2012, or 2099.
There are advantages to playing a game significantly after release too. The most obvious is the usual price drop, but also most of the DLC will have been released so you can decide if you want that and generally integrate it into your game experience, there will be FAQs if you get stuck, and there may even be a sequel already available if you fall in love with a game or story. Heck Jak II HD came with the sequel already on the same disc! These go against the disadvantages of potential spoilers and not being able to discuss the game with people currently playing, but the pros and cons are at least arguably balanced there.
The one obvious exception is multiplayer, which is often a ghost town by the time I get around to a game. I don't play a ton of multiplayer so this is not a huge deal, but even for those who do, there's a relatively small sliver of games whose multiplayer is worth getting into in my opinion. I loved Driver: San Francisco and played it while there was still a relatively robust community online, but I mostly played the multiplayer for achievement purposes and so I didn't have to give up the game, and if I'd missed out on the somewhat generic race and pursuit modes it wouldn't have done much to dampen my enjoyment of the experience. We live in the age of the tacked on multiplayer mode, and while games with great MP are worth buying upon release to experience that aspect (at least before everybody else has 200 hours of experience and any newb will get smoked like a salmon) those games are relatively few and far between.
I guess I just feel the games media and industry in general are into pushing the latest thing, and a lot of players seem to have the same mindset based on the fact that games sales numbers look like movie numbers now, with opening week or month amounting to the bulk of sales for most titles, and I don't really understand it. The big exception seems to be Steam Sales, where people will buy older games for a couple of bucks, but it's not like big sales don't happen on the console side with fair regularity. Obviously the industry wants to sell the latest games at full price, and the media needs new stuff to feed its need for new content, but I don't see the angle for gamers, especially when buying the latest means picking up an inferior new game over a superior older game you never got around to playing.