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Bargain hunting is hot... RIGHT NOW

Brad Gallaway's picture

Like I said a few times on the boards lately, it's a superb time right now to play catch-up with last-gen (wow, it feels really weird to say that) games now that everybody's moving on to new hardware.

I've been doing quite a bit of bargain hunting lately, and I've got a very healthy stack of things to get around to. I've noticed that the Xbox library is especially ripe with bargains, and I'm pretty close to completely checking off my list of every game I've ever had my eye on for that system. The same for the GameCube, and I've got to say that I love that feeling... it's pretty cool to take a look back across the entire lifespan of a given console and know that I've covered it as well as anyone could reasonably hope to expect.

The exception to the rule right now is the PS2... that little piece of kit is still quite viable, and my list of titles to get around to is still pretty long, and growing longer every month. At the rate this is going, I won't be retiring my PS2 for quite a while... this is really a good thing since there is a special place in my heart for the PS2. Out of my entire gaming career, I think I've probably had the largest number of positive and interesting gaming experiences with it, and since I have no immediate plans to pick up a PS3 until Sony decides to drop the price a bit, I'm quite happy to keep it around a while longer.

Just a few of the cheap bargains I've taken advantage of lately:

PS2
Urban Reign
Okami
FF XII
The Bard's Tale
Disgaea 2
Growlanser Generations
Deus Ex

GameCube
Odama, including the microphone
Mario Kart Double Dash

Xbox
The Suffering 1 & 2
Tron 2.0 (which is friggin' AWESOME)
Jedi Knight 2
Lego Star Wars 2
Spartan
007: Everything or Nothing
Dreamfall
Conker Live & Reloaded (which still sucks)
Doom 3
Total Overdose
Splinter Cell: Double Agent

All of the above I found used for well below retail price either in a brick and mortar store or on eBay... prices ranged from $.99 (007: Everything or Nothing) to $20 (Disgaea 2), so in total I saved a fortune by waiting a while. The best part is, it's not like I was dying to play any of these titles, so I don't really feel like I missed out by putting them on the back burner.  I kept up with the ones I felt were really important, either by paying full retail price (almost never) or through GameFly for a measly $30 per month subscription.

... and for those who are keeping score, I'm proud to say that I haven't paid full retail price for a single 360 or Wii game yet, and I'm not planning to any time soon (especially for the 360). $60 retail price?  Not at my house.

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Buying Used doesnt give back to the developer

.. and for those who are keeping score, I'm proud to say that I haven't paid full retail price for a single 360 or Wii game yet, and I'm not planning to any time soon (especially for the 360). $60 retail price? Not at my house.

Does this mean that you dont plan on buying a new game for either of those platforms? Buying used games is all well and good but publishers don't see a penny of the revenue generated by the sale. Alot of the games that you have listed did not do all that well when they first launched (Okami being one notable example). I used to have a similiar outlook to you when it came to purchasing games but i realised that spending extra money on actually supporting developers of small games that I really enjoye would increase the chances of getting a sequel or at the very least a new product from that same team. For the bigger titles its obviously not really that big a deal but a game like tron, which you say you enjoyed sold very poorly.

also you say you have never paid rrp. Well unless you have never bought anything from xbox live arcade or wii virtual console then you probably HAVE paid full price, just not $60.

Re: Buying Used doesnt give back to the developer

"Buying used games is all well and good but publishers don't see a penny of the revenue generated by the sale."

…and so neither do the developers (just to fill in the gap for others).

I too was a big fan of the second-hand market, but have to agree with Evilsmevil that it’s a little rich to complain about the poor performance of great games when their hardcore fanbase simply wait for them to hit the used shelf. I’m not saying Brad is doing that, but I know I do. :)

It’s a Catch-22 really as hardcore gamers are also the most likely to want to play a large and broad range of games (incidentally Brad, when you’ve finished with those games, can I borrow your time machine?), yet few would ever expect themselves to pay full retail price for them all.

But I think gamers who really care about the medium as a form of creative expression should think about sacrificing a few pennies to the cause now and then. Okami is a prime example of a unique game, with arguably limited mass appeal, that those in-the-know can be pretty sure is a quality, value for money game. But I’m going to stop short of saying that it ought to be supported for those reasons alone.

I mean, you might be scared of wolves or something...

Hey guys,Thanks for your

Hey guys,

Thanks for your comments.

First off, I have bought games on Live, so in that sense I have actually paid full-price for those, you are correct there. My bad for not being completely specific. ; )

In reference to developers not seeing a return on games are purchased used, I am very cognizant of that. When it comes to developers that I have faith in, or particular games that I am very eager to see as "successful" in the market, I do buy those at full price. It's very few and far between when I do, but when I do, it's a very specific and deliberate act of support.

To be perfectly honest, Okami was one of those games that I usually would have paid MSRP for, had I not been in a financial pinch at the time. I put all of my discretionary spending on hold for a while, and games was one of the things I had to cut. Now that there are so many copies used, it was impossible not to pick up a cheaper copy-- but no worries, I'll pick up the next project from those people when it comes down the pike. If anyone on the Okami team is reading this, please accept my formal apology.

That said, the problem I run into in making a habit of paying full price is that more often than not, I sincerely feel that I'm being taken advantage of as consumer by paying a significant amount of money for something which I don't feel possesses equivalent value.

I have a very hard time going along with the idea that new hardware automatically means higher prices. A $60 MSRP is very steep to me, and I have a great job that pays well. I can't even imagine trying to bite that bullet earning minimum wage or slightly above.

Granted, I am extremely aware of the increased time and effort it takes to put out a truly "next-gen" game. Adding hardware that can display so much more graphic information along with more complex AI and everything else that goes into it would naturally require greater resources to produce. I'm not arguing that point at all, but what I do argue are developers who put out a product which is only marginally better than what they've done last generation, yet stick consumers with a price tag that isn't at all justified. (specifically, many 360 and Wii games I’ve played lately have been extremely guilty of this.)

This is a very complex issue and in no way do I mean to say that I don't support developers who put out the products, but one main idea that I would like to get across is that I don't believe the market could or should sustain these new higher-price points as the new "norm".

If there is a game which completely knocks my socks off and epitomizes to me what next-gen development should be and really delivers a ton of bang for the buck, I'm there at retail and I'll be there for them next time. However, what usually happens is I end up with a product that has a few good points but is lacking in others, and probably isn't worth full price.

The other side of my position is that I'd be very glad to support products which are niche, or which function more as concepts then as fully-fleshed games if developers and publishers would simply try to aim for a lower price-point. I'm far more forgiving of flawed games at $20 or $30 and then I am at $50 or $60. In fact, if more developers truly priced in their products at levels that I felt were appropriate (and granted, this is pretty arbitrary ground I'm walking on) I'd be a hell of a lot more comfortable buying new.

One last thing I have to throw in there is that games retailers have really cut back on the flexibility in leniency in their return policies. When the big stores were still taking back new purchases within seven days (and some within three), I bought almost exclusively new. At that time, I was very happy to support developers who actually came through because I knew that if I got taken for a ride, I could always get my money back and put it towards something that was better. At the present time, I'm not aware of a single major retailer who will take back a new purchase simply on the basis of "I didn't like it".

People can read reviews and search message boards all they want, but there is nothing as accurate as simply playing something for yourself. There's been dozens of times where a particular game has gotten trashed in the reviews, yet I ended up loving it--and certainly vice versa. With the current situation, I don't feel that there are any real consequences for developers who have no accountability for their products once they sell. Granted, savvy gamers can simply avoid that same developer or publisher the next time, but I'm really not comfortable as a consumer risking so much money on a single purchase when it's entirely likely that I may not like it, that perhaps it has some technical problems which are not tolerable, or for whatever reason I feel as though I get gypped.

I know plenty of developers on a personal basis and I understand their position quite intimately. I also never meant to say that I don't support them financially, or that I only by used to the point of actually putting the industry in distress, or at least as much as one single consumer can do, but in the current environment I don't feel as though there is a strong voice advocating for consumers or any way to redress issues that come up for people spending their money, and for someone like me who likes to play a large number of games my current system of buying a used and renting for "maybes" and buying retail for "sure things" seems to work the best for me.

I realize this post has gone four times longer than I originally had meant it to (and thanks for reading it if you made it this far, heh) but one other thing I'd like it are out there is that for the games I mentioned in the original post, I think only Okami was one that I actually had planned on buying for full price. As for the rest, it's not as though the developer actually lost a sale, because I never had any intention of buying those at full price anyway. In fact, I think an argument could be made that it actually helps developers in one sense because trying a used game and liking it would make me more inclined to pay full price for a similar product from the same people.

Thanks again for your comments, i'm sorry for not being clearer in the original post, and I hope I cleared things up. = )

"I think an argument could

"I think an argument could be made that it actually helps developers in one sense because trying a used game and liking it would make me more inclined to pay full price for a similar product from the same people."

Absolutely Brad. In fact, I usually find I have much more fervour and non-biblical love for games that I've picked up on the cheap and whose quality actually exceeded their price tag. (There's no official correlation between the two, obviously, but you'll know it when it happens.)

You're also much more willing to take purchasing risks in the second-hand market.

Absolutely. and one final

Absolutely. and one final thing i forgot to add earlier: while retailers won't take returns on new games, EB, GameStop and a few others *will* take back used games within 7 days based on the "didn't like it" premise... it bolsters the argument for buying used when there's so much more protection for the buyer as opposed to buying new.

if i was a publisher, i'd be looking for ways to make buying new more appealing to consumers leery of getting bitten. provided my games were good, that is. ; )

Odama

So how much did you pay for it, anyway? Also what do you think of it?

I picked up Odama for $10 two weeks ago, and I feel cheated.

$12 on eBay with $5

$12 on eBay with $5 shipping... check the "Odama" thead on the forums for the full scoop. ; )

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