GOGambling Discussion

I like Good Old Games. I like their DRM free philosophy, their dedication to hunting down old stuff and making it runnable on current systems, their usually reasonable prices, their refusal to use Geo-IP identification. I find though that the way they promote their games brings about a weird behavior in me that I probably wouldn't have if things were priced statically.
 
As frequent users know, GOG regularly promotes older releases through sales every weekend, often from a single publisher or part of a theme. The discounts vary, sometimes decreasing on a sliding scale based on how many you buy. Considering the games are already individually priced from 10 dollars on down, the extra discounts are often symbolic; they're gunning for a volume of sales.
 
When a game I like is featured, part of me goes "when I'm more willing to play the thing, I should definitely get on that, but right now I'd just be throwing the money away." So I wait, because I know that games will likely go on sale again, even though it may be months or even years before that might happen. It sets up part of a sort of gambling mentality, where I try to balance what I'd do with the little wad of cash I'd be spending while I wait for my interest to reach its peak.
 
Yet when my interest HAS reached its peak, like it has with Darklands or a few other games they have featured, if the current sale doesn't include the games I'm interested in, or if the discount drops if I try to exclude the ones I'm not interested in, I hesitate. If the game isn't included in the sale, no matter how much I might want it, part of me wonders if I could save a few bucks by waiting. It's almost more from pride than a monetary decision; I feel like I'm one of the dupes if I buy too early.
 
I don't have this twisted thinking when buying games straight from the market. I know that you pay a lot to start, and as time goes by you may get discounts (and whatever you may think of used games or renting games, those are priced even lower after other people had paid to play the same game at a premium). Because there's an understanding that the demand will only increase past the initial release if the price is dropped, you have a certainty in this relationship that lets you plan your next move and buy things when they reach a comfortable level.
 
The comparison isn't exact because GOG tends to release games that have been out for quite a while, but many of the widgets they sell are games I haven't seen in such a long time that they might as well be new to me. If big-time new releases were treated the way the majority of GOG games were treated, I wonder if people might buy less of them knowing that some day in the future there would likely be a sale. 
 
So, I find that for an individual game, like Darklands or Starflight (1 and 2), the choice is not so hard. I look at the price, 6 bucks each in this case, and convince myself it's not so bad. When you don't feel too strongly about the game, though, there's this doubt that creeps up. "What if I wait a bit? Will they put it on sale?" I wonder if all these promotions, then, wind up causing a bit of lag in sales. In the case of games I love, like Starflight and Darklands, I wonder if they will be part of a bigger sale at some point. So, because the games I want are associated with other games I might never want to buy or play that might be part of some future sale, the gambler in me chooses to bide its time.
 
Still, if they had a static pricing drop I don't think it work quite as well as it does for most high-budget releases, since a lot of these games bank on nostalgia, a value that's not likely to change a whole lot over time, rather than the urge to be on the cutting edge of the games conversation (like I have with Skyrim, or used to have with Grand Theft Auto). Maybe if I focus on getting the few games I absolutely want, the ones that keep coming up in my mind, I might actually be LESS susceptible to sales later on because I won't feel like I'm holding back just for them.
 
Not sure any of you out there go through this. I'm willing to bet some of you buy things you like and don't worry so much about potential price drops, although I imagine some of these folks wind up with a bunch of games they have yet to play. I do have some of that going on, but not to the extent I've seen some people go, according to some of the lists I've seen here. Does Steam foster a similar behavior, or are their sales more all-encompassing than GOG's?

13 Comments
14 Comments
Posted by ahoodedfigure

I like Good Old Games. I like their DRM free philosophy, their dedication to hunting down old stuff and making it runnable on current systems, their usually reasonable prices, their refusal to use Geo-IP identification. I find though that the way they promote their games brings about a weird behavior in me that I probably wouldn't have if things were priced statically.
 
As frequent users know, GOG regularly promotes older releases through sales every weekend, often from a single publisher or part of a theme. The discounts vary, sometimes decreasing on a sliding scale based on how many you buy. Considering the games are already individually priced from 10 dollars on down, the extra discounts are often symbolic; they're gunning for a volume of sales.
 
When a game I like is featured, part of me goes "when I'm more willing to play the thing, I should definitely get on that, but right now I'd just be throwing the money away." So I wait, because I know that games will likely go on sale again, even though it may be months or even years before that might happen. It sets up part of a sort of gambling mentality, where I try to balance what I'd do with the little wad of cash I'd be spending while I wait for my interest to reach its peak.
 
Yet when my interest HAS reached its peak, like it has with Darklands or a few other games they have featured, if the current sale doesn't include the games I'm interested in, or if the discount drops if I try to exclude the ones I'm not interested in, I hesitate. If the game isn't included in the sale, no matter how much I might want it, part of me wonders if I could save a few bucks by waiting. It's almost more from pride than a monetary decision; I feel like I'm one of the dupes if I buy too early.
 
I don't have this twisted thinking when buying games straight from the market. I know that you pay a lot to start, and as time goes by you may get discounts (and whatever you may think of used games or renting games, those are priced even lower after other people had paid to play the same game at a premium). Because there's an understanding that the demand will only increase past the initial release if the price is dropped, you have a certainty in this relationship that lets you plan your next move and buy things when they reach a comfortable level.
 
The comparison isn't exact because GOG tends to release games that have been out for quite a while, but many of the widgets they sell are games I haven't seen in such a long time that they might as well be new to me. If big-time new releases were treated the way the majority of GOG games were treated, I wonder if people might buy less of them knowing that some day in the future there would likely be a sale. 
 
So, I find that for an individual game, like Darklands or Starflight (1 and 2), the choice is not so hard. I look at the price, 6 bucks each in this case, and convince myself it's not so bad. When you don't feel too strongly about the game, though, there's this doubt that creeps up. "What if I wait a bit? Will they put it on sale?" I wonder if all these promotions, then, wind up causing a bit of lag in sales. In the case of games I love, like Starflight and Darklands, I wonder if they will be part of a bigger sale at some point. So, because the games I want are associated with other games I might never want to buy or play that might be part of some future sale, the gambler in me chooses to bide its time.
 
Still, if they had a static pricing drop I don't think it work quite as well as it does for most high-budget releases, since a lot of these games bank on nostalgia, a value that's not likely to change a whole lot over time, rather than the urge to be on the cutting edge of the games conversation (like I have with Skyrim, or used to have with Grand Theft Auto). Maybe if I focus on getting the few games I absolutely want, the ones that keep coming up in my mind, I might actually be LESS susceptible to sales later on because I won't feel like I'm holding back just for them.
 
Not sure any of you out there go through this. I'm willing to bet some of you buy things you like and don't worry so much about potential price drops, although I imagine some of these folks wind up with a bunch of games they have yet to play. I do have some of that going on, but not to the extent I've seen some people go, according to some of the lists I've seen here. Does Steam foster a similar behavior, or are their sales more all-encompassing than GOG's?

Posted by Dagbiker

I used to have a problem with steam sales, until I owned everything they put on sale. So now I dont feel the need to check steam daily. but normaly I dont mind paying full price for a game if I know I will like it.

Posted by Tordah

This happens to me all the time with Steam. Especially if there's a deal on a single game in a franchise I'm hesitant to buy it because I know it will inevitably end up in a "Complete collection" type deal later on.

With indie games it's starting to get even worse to get a sense of value when you have the Humble Indie Bundle and Royal Indie Bundle that both offer redeemable Steam codes for the games. For instance, I had waited for Aquaria to go on sale for a long time, as it was 20 € for the longest time. Ironically, I ended up buying it unknowingly just this week as part of a retroactively added bonus to the Humble Introversion Bundle.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Dagbiker: That's the real question, whether it's going to be of value to the buyer. Hard to know though. And with older games the concept may be great, but you might have interface or control problems that sort of tank the fun a bit. It's harder to find reviews of these older games online.
 
@Tordah: Yeah, I noticed they sneaked Aquaria into that package. Aquaria strangely enough was one of the few games I actually bought near its release date (and I still haven't beaten it); unless you count GOG games it was the only one for a very long time. Electronic distribution certainly makes whim purchases easier, but the way these sales are conducted make me secretly wish they'd just announce "OK; no more sales, but we'll lower the price of EVERYTHING" by some small amount. Then I'd feel more like I was collecting discrete units of something rather than commodities that may change in value.
 
I imagine Steam, with its famous bargains, might feel even more up-and-down in this regard, but because they're so popular they seem to be able to afford deeper discounts and longer sales, so I don't know if it balances out.
Posted by Tordah

I often wonder how sustainable these huge discounts on Steam will be in the long run. I feel like we're already seeing a lot of people complain that they already own everything, and thus have nothing to buy. I only started using Steam seriously in 2008 or so, and now I have over 200 games tied to my account. Before that, I was even against the whole idea of digital distribution. It may just be a problem for us enthusiast gamers now, but I think that eventually more and more people will encounter the same "problem" of already owning almost everything they might want to play.

I imagine GOG is still a long way from having that issue with their customer base, but who knows? As you mentioned, nostalgia is a powerful selling point, but does having sales lessen that sense of value? I imagine it does, but it's impossible to say how much.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Tordah: For me the nostalgia factor means more that there's no change in the sense of urgency over time. You're likely to harbor similar feelings for a game you liked a long time ago now, as you might 10 years later, so it's not like there might be a huge bump in interest when the game is first released. You sort of wanted it or you didn't, and if sale would be the only motivator they're likely to see an initial lack of enthusiasm. It may even be smart to have a limited time introductory offer, that way people who normally would wait for sales have no reason to hold off.
 
As for buying everything, you could argue that buying more than 200 games, even for cheap, is a significant investment. Since their distribution model seems to save on a lot of peripheral costs maybe they're OK with that. You may very well be right, once people have caught up with most of the games on offer. I guess I don't anticipate a problem but it's not really clear at this point if catching up will make things stagnate. I was a bit bugged by them refusing to carry Armageddon Empires, a game I consider to be pretty rewarding, so I see a potential issue in what sorts of games they decide to carry. If they don't continue to expand what kinds of games they're known for, others may rise to take their place in niche markets (not a bad thing, come to think of it).
Posted by Tordah

Yes, I suppose you're right about the nostalgia factor not changing much over time. Either you want that old game you used to love or you don't.

And sure, 200 games is a significant investment, but when you have these dirt cheap deals it becomes a non-issue. At least for me. What's more worrying though is that I'm never inclined to buy anything at full price anymore (well, to be honest I rarely did anyway). It's just impossible for me to justify paying full price for a game when I already own tons of unplayed/unfinished games. Even when there's a game I would really love to play on day 1 (like Skyrim, for instance), I look at my backlog and just go "No". Still, even with that overwhelming backlog I would never pass up on a good deal.

I realize I'm straying further away from the original topic so I'll just stop writing now.

Posted by Ravenlight

Steam sales are bad enough, but I never end up playing anything to completion I buy from GoG.

Posted by ch3burashka

It's only 6-9 bucks. You're not saving a ton there.

Edited by ArbitraryWater

I almost never buy anything at full price on steam, unless it's something I really want or I'm in one of those "bad impulse buy" moods, something that as a poor college student I have been trying to suppress, this time by vowing to not spend any more money on Steam for the rest of the year. I digress. Generally, waiting for a game to go on sale isn't a very big gamble the way it is for GOG, since steam has midweek madness, weekend deals and daily deals in addition to the wallet-destroying holiday sale. I figure that since I've only played around half my steam library, I'm good this year.

Same goes for GOG, though their deals are more of a gamble, at least until the holidays when everything is cheap, not that it matters a ton anyways since I have pretty much everything I would ever want to play in my library already (and plenty of things that I never want to play again), and considering my play-rate for those games is even lower than that for my Steam library, I once again feel perfectly fine in not touching anything this year.

Of course, the last time all the D&D games were on sale I managed to facilitate that into one of the weirder blogging competitions on this website. Temple of Elemental Evil for $2.50 or so is not a deal to be trifled with.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@CH3BURASHKA: It's true but I'm not exactly rich, so saving what I can when I can is an instinct I don't want to suppress.  Unfortunately that feeds into the gambling-like behavior and may make me spend a bit MORE than if I decided to spend X on things I like and not worry about sales.
 
@Ravenlight: I think most of the games I'd completed I already had. There is a bit of a novelty factor with these things, although I know that given enough time I might beat games bought through them that I never managed to beat when I had them last...
 
@ArbitraryWater: It goes without saying that part of the gamble is whether or not the game is any good, or fits one's proclivities. Like I told someone earlier, it's hard to find reviews for these older games, so you may see one or two reviews and not be able to make a decision based on that. So you get it, thinking it looks good, and wind up being irritated by the controls or disappointed by believing a bit too much in the copywriter who was trying to sell the game. The reviews on the site, though, are actually a pretty good indicator of quality if taken in aggregate, since gamers aren't afraid to be honest (that's why low review scores are a better place to start than high, even if they turn out to be wrong in the case of you as an individual player).
Posted by kalmis

Don't have really anything to add here. Pretty much on same line with Tordah here. One thing I need say that these sales are evil.

Posted by Egge

I own 150 games on GOG and have played very few of them (specifically in their GOG iterations, that is), so clearly I have very little restraint when it comes to buying games online provided that their initial, non-sale price is so low to begin with. My own reasoning when buying GOG games for their full price (despite the almost certain knowledge of upcoming sales in which said game will be included) is as follows; A) I want to support GOG as strongly as possible for taking the time to acquire the license to release the game in question, and B) I want to send a signal to the publishers/rights holders in question that these are the kinds of games I'm willing to spend money on. Not that I think that, say, Ubisoft will actually start funding a Might & Magic X just because I own MM1-9 on GOG, but it's better to speak with my wallet than just whine about why no AAA publishers release good old school RPGs anymore...

That said, despite my relatively large GOG library I've definitely held off on a few purchases - sometimes for many months - for some of the same reasons (i.e. not being quite satisified with the selection of games included in the "sliding scales" sales etc.). It only lasts for so long, though, and right now just about the only GOG release with real nostalgic importance for me that I don't already own is Settlers 2.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Egge: I don't have nearly as many, though my attitude is similar. Things just got busy for me, too, so I'm having trouble imagining even keeping up my usual buy rate of one every few months. I still monitor the sales and may make a purchase based on that. There's something I didn't mention that's also a component: since their christmas sales tend to be generous, I find myself holding out on end-of-the-year purchases from them because I know that they might do a whole-catalog discount at some point. 
 
You're right, though, that full-price purchases mean more support for them. It's just too bad that they aren't a co-operative, where the more we buy the more "interest" we have in the company :)