By ahoodedfigure 13 Comments
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?