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Default Kotaku - We Buy More Games Than We Play

January 5th, 2014, 04:42
Kotaku has a new article based on a survey of a few thousand gamers on their buying and playing habits. The results are not surprising we buy more games than we play.

Let's look at some results.

The Average Gamer

  • The average gamer surveyed owns unplayed 18 games in their Pile of Shame.
  • They play games for 15 hours a week and spend 10 hours engaging with gaming media including news sites, videos and forums.
  • They bought 11-25 games in the past 12 months: 60% on sale and just 20% new at full price.
  • They have not played 40% of the games purchased in the past 12 months.
The Compulsive Collector

  • 30% of the gamers surveyed are Compulsive Collectors with a Pile of Shame at least 50 high.
  • The average Collector has roughly 100 games in their backlog.
  • They play games for 20 hours a week and spend 10 hours engaging with gaming media.
  • They bought 26-50 games in the past 12 months: 80% on sale and just 10% new at full price.
  • They have not played 60% of the games purchased in the past 12 months.
We game in the age of the Perpetual Sale. "I never buy games at full price as they'll get extremely cheap within just a few months… I rarely spend over $10 for a single game."
More information.
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January 5th, 2014, 04:42
•They play games for 20 hours a week and spend 10 hours engaging with gaming media.
•They bought 26-50 games in the past 12 months: 80% on sale and just 10% new at full price. 5
Pretty much what it says.
That's me.
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January 5th, 2014, 05:00
No complaints here. It's still better than the old days when I had to shell out $50 for most of the games I purchased.
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January 5th, 2014, 05:05
Guilty.
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January 5th, 2014, 05:15
I have no complaints either but remember if we don't buy some games new it will affect the industry. GOG.com talked about this in the last interview.
Wired.co.uk: You've previously spoken about sales not devaluing games and pricing needing to reflect value—how did you settle on the winter sale prices? There are some hefty discounts there.

Rambourg: That's something that we struggled with. There's no doubting that big game discounts generate a lot of revenues, but it's also true that we're teaching a whole generation of gamers that their hobby is worth roughly the same as an iPhone app. Many gamers are getting games in bundles, and they're paying less than 99 cents per game! This is good for gamers in the short run, because they amass huge collections, but it's not good for the industry in the long run, because we will eventually reach the point where we can't sell games at full price because gamers know that the title will be 70, 80, or 90 percent off soon enough.

On the other hand, that's the market we're in. You adapt or you die, and this is something that has definitely proven to be good for our growth in the short-term, even though we can see that it definitely impacts the sale of games at full price outside of discount periods.
Bottom line is we want more for less and it isn't always possible.

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January 5th, 2014, 06:07
Originally Posted by Couchpotato View Post
I have no complaints either but remember if we don't buy some games new it will affect the industry. GOG.com talked about this in the last interview.
Bottom line is we want more for less and it isn't always possible.
That's why I let my new purchases count.

And companies' practices play a role in it: day one dlc? Say goodbye to your day one purchase.

Was this Developer's last game crap? (I do distinguish game quality based on developer and not publisher in most cases). Don't believe the hype and don't buy the game on day one.

Took a risk with a new ip? Bring on the day one purchase.

The other side of the coin is not highlighted. Gamers are increasingly buying games long before they are finished (Kickstarter and Early Access). That's money that goes to the Devs quicker than it previously would.

Plus I think it's better they earn something from a game that might not be played instead of nothing from a pirated game (that in many cases also went unplayed).
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January 5th, 2014, 06:26
I guess I'm not even an average gamer 'cause I play most of the games I buy.
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January 5th, 2014, 06:31
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
I guess I'm not even an average gamer 'cause I play most of the games I buy.
No your just part of the minority of gamers who play all there games. Don't worry I have played most of my games also. I just have to play my holiday bundles now.

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January 5th, 2014, 06:49
This trend really doesn't surprise me. Prior to the last year, I rarely had a backlog above 10 games but the loss of free time has more than doubled that number now. My brother falls into the latter category though. He owns 200+ games on Steam and has logged less than 15 hours in the last month and yet, he continues to buy games.


While I agree GOG has a point with their devaluation, the publishers/developers are just as guilty about starting the trend as game sale sites. In a capitalist system, any product is worth only what the market is willing to pay for it, setting a $60 price point means nothing to the customer's valuation of said product. True, if the customer knows said game will go on sale soon the $60 price point is less appealing but, a lot of core gamers understand companies have to make money and will buy a game at $60 IF they feel it's worth it.

The cost of making games has sky rocketed because they've allowed it to and then they put themselves in a position where they have to sell millions of copies to simply break even. A lot of times, this money goes into stuff like graphics/voice acting which add very little to the gaming experience imo. Good games sell regardless of how much they cost to make. As KoA showed, an expensive game that fails to catch on goes nowhere. Rather then concentrating so hard on production values, an emphasis on gameplay/stories would serve them better and probably cost much less resulting in better profit margins for successful games and smaller losses for flops. At which point, I would expect the risk aversion to new ideas to ease a bit, breaking the annoying habit of so many similar games which could again, result in more games sold.

The fear/unwillingness to try new things is also gimping them. While EA isn't the only one who does this, they make a perfect example. Very little changes in Madden from year to year. In fact, most of the new additions to the franchise over the last decade have merely been taken from 2K games. It's not just sports games that do it either. I find myself asking frequently, what did they change that justifies a $60 price tag? More often than not, I find my expectations are far above what's delivered and that seals the games fate as a discount purchase for me. A game is only worth what gamers are willing to pay for it, basic capitalism.

There's a huge practice now of casualizing gameplay of franchises to appeal to the mass market in order to move more copies. However, this practice can easily alienate core gamers who made the franchises successful in the first place. Business 101: it's far easier to retain customers than it is to attract new ones.

There's also things to be said about day 1 DLC, large collections of DLC releases ala Paradox, and forced online play in stuff like D3 and SimCity where I'm willing to bet tons of people would rather, or already do, play alone. Limiting the options of the customers is rarely a good idea, just look at how XBox One's media attention went prior to reversing course on so many of these types of policies.
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January 5th, 2014, 07:11
I've played every game I've bought.
Now finishing every game I buy is a massively different story.

Also it is a good thing to buy new games also, if every game you buy is 60% on sale than it is going to effect the industry. There I games I will not buy for full price, and there are games that I buy full price.
I once rented Valkyria Chonicles, and found it amazing, so I decided to buy it, they had a used game for I think $30, and a new for $40-$45, I opted for the new one because I felt the developers deserved the money.
Support the good games, and you will probably get more of them. God knows I would never spend full price(or really at all anymore) for a CoD, or EA Sports game.
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January 5th, 2014, 07:27
I can't even imagine buying a game I don't play, except times when I try the game and don't like it. I usually wait until I'm ready to play a particular game before I buy it, although nowadays with the big sales I will often buy them on sale and play them later.
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January 5th, 2014, 07:50
Good to hear I'm not the only one who buys way more then I have time to play. Though I tend to like RPG's and strategy titles which take much much longer then your average shooter to finish. The good thing about so many sales it lets me stock up on titles that I know I would not try for $50+.

As well usually by the time they are at a steep discount the developer has patched most of the bugs out of the game. I can't count how many games I have started then restarted months or years later with all the updates to find its like a whole different game because of patches and updates. I am finding that it rarely pays to be an early adopter in today's market.

I figure I will buy at full price or Kickstart games from the developers who make what I want to play and don't screw their customers over and as for the rest $5.00 - 10.00 is all they get. With the back log I have it's not like I am in a hurry right.
As for the big boys like EA, Activision, Blizzard, and Ubisoft, until they cut out their extreme DRM and wallet abuse then no money from me at all.
Last edited by Terry; January 5th, 2014 at 08:02.
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January 5th, 2014, 08:14
My pile of shame currently has about 6 games in it (or 7 if you count Skyrim twice). I try to keep it under control by not buying new stuff until I've worked through the old, at least to an extent. I'm aiming for 'play 2, buy one more'.
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January 5th, 2014, 09:14
Not exactly news

There are a few problems associated with this, but it's hard to tell how big a deal it will turn out to be.

The way we devalue games by buying them so very cheap means that many will start to expect and await a very low price no matter what game it is - and as such, publishers might have a hard time getting away with a reasonable price. That could mean the end of big AAA titles as we know them today.

But I'm not too worried about that, because we're already at a stage where that segment is all but ruined due to absurd DLC/pre-order schemes and "games as a service" that people have been supporting with all of their hearts. Ok, we're not quite there yet, but we're well on the way.

It's not a big surprise that the vast majority of gamers don't care about the long-term impact of their decisions - and buying a zillion games on sale in case they might want to play them later on is just another kind of counterproductive human response. It's taking advantage of short-term thinking and impulse buying.

The other issue is something that happens to ourselves when we're subject to overexposure. It's a psychological thing.

I usually bring up the example of Christmas presents, because it's something we can all relate to. I don't know if you were like me when you were children - but I was the kind of child that would spend all of December looking forward to my presents - and on the day, I would get a stomach ache from the excitement.

When I finally got my presents - there was always that special one from my parents - and from a very early age, it was almost certainly a computer game. That one game I'd been hyped about for months and that I'd spend weeks or months enjoying.

Anyway, all you have to do is imagine that instead of getting that one special computer game - you'd get 50 computer games on that day.

You tell me, do you think you would appreciate those 50 games like you would just one?

When we were kids, we had one fantastic game every couple of months if we were lucky. But such a game could take just as long to consume.

These days, we have hundreds of games that would have been considered brilliant 20 years ago - but we hardly play them, because we have little time and we're always looking for more.

Personally, I miss the old days.
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January 5th, 2014, 10:14
There's no doubting that big game discounts generate a lot of revenues, but it's also true that we're teaching a whole generation of gamers that their hobby is worth roughly the same as an iPhone app. Many gamers are getting games in bundles, and they're paying less than 99 cents per game! This is good for gamers in the short run, because they amass huge collections, but it's not good for the industry in the long run, because we will eventually reach the point where we can't sell games at full price because gamers know that the title will be 70, 80, or 90 percent off soon enough.
The industry does not that. The industry sells a product for $60 then sells another product for $15.
The product bought at $60 is experienced at peak communauty, therefore features that are designed to be experienced with a large communauty, are fully available.
When the product is offered for $15, the communauty is at least dissolving if not already in shambles. People experiencing the product for the $15 price tag simply do not experience all the features that came fresh with a large communauty.

The industry is not hurt in the long term: what customers learn is that the difference is worth what experiencing the product at peak communauty means.
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January 5th, 2014, 12:28
Isn't this the "lemons effect" ? Found this only a few days ago : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Market_for_Lemons

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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January 5th, 2014, 12:30
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
[…]The industry is not hurt in the long term: what customers learn is that the difference is worth what experiencing the product at peak communauty means.
True only for games primarily sold for their multi-player content, assuming 'communauty' is community.

I like one facet of this development, though: games will be bought later on average, which means that hype in the form of previews and magazine reviews bought by the publishers will matter less, and gamers will be able to judge value more accurately. This should have a positive impact on game quality in the long term.
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January 5th, 2014, 12:38
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Isn't this the "lemons effect" ? Found this only a few days ago : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Market_for_Lemons
I do not think so, since the asymmetry of information decreases with time, i.e.: while a used car's value is determined in part by the previous owner and therefore differs in each individual case, which makes it difficult to predict the value as a potential buyer, a game's value is more uniform (one can argue that it depends on the buyer) and (presumably) better known the longer it is on the market.
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January 5th, 2014, 16:39
Yes, but looking at thne sales alone, people kind of "learn" that any game can be bought via a lower price - which might make high-price or just normal-priced products to disappear as well … It would not be a case of asymetric information, yet the end result might be the same …

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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January 5th, 2014, 16:56
I wonder. Could mean that AAA games will turn unprofitable, if delayed sales at a discount are not compensated by an adequate increase in market size.

On the other hand, I rather assume that people will learn to be more discriminating when buying games instead of going for the low value always, since it will become more and more difficult to ignore a long backlog of discounted mediocre games that were never played and therefore a complete loss to the buyer. Excellent games which earn a good reputation after release will not need to be discounted quickly.

It needs to be factored in that (most) gamers have a limited amount of time to play — and as my grandmother used to say: time is money
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