If you're as old as I am, go take a nap. Are you back yet? Sorry, I didn't want you falling asleep while reading, as folks our age tend to do. I may have yet to hit the big four-oh, but it feels like the world is a different place than in my youth, and it sure is spinning faster these days. Yeah, when you've been into video games this long, you see quite a few things change over time.
For example, it doesn't seem like too long ago that once a game was released, it was as simple as walking into any major retailer to nab a copy. Sure there have always been obscure titles with small print runs, but preordering felt like an extravagance, online retailers felt like they had unlimited inventory, and unless you were importing or looking for a game more than a few years old, most relatively modern games seemed pretty easy to get. Although I do remember the challenge of trying to ask for Katamari Damacy at a GameStop during the week of release (or just explaining what the game was.)
Many of us on the site remember when the prices of NES and SNES began spiking up. And how for many years, Final Fantasy VII
and Symphony of the Night
were available for under $20 pretty much everywhere, until suddenly they weren't, and priced doubled and tripled.
Some of these pricing bubbles have burst but as a whole, retro collecting is a very different financial game than it was only a few years ago. This alone is remarkable but something else has happened recently on the other end that has been equally surprising; now some modern games become hot commodities and unavailable even as soon as they are released.Song of the Deep
, Insomniac's recent release, is readily available digitally of course. Getting a disc copy however, especially a nifty SteelBook Collector's Edition with an accompanying novel, is a bit tougher, or at least a lot pricier. It was only $30, at least initially and exclusively at GameStop. But even preorders were limited, and now eBay offers copies at greatly exaggerated prices.
Worth trying at any reasonable price. Image from Gameinformer.com.
Sure, that one is an oddball exception, but it does represent a recent trend; the unavailability of new games, at least disc copies. The two biggest game retailers we have nearby, Wal-Mart and GameStop, often struggle to get more than a few copies of a new game, and of they sell out, it can be weeks (if ever) for a restock. Ziggurat
, Kromaia Omega
, Giana Sisters
(Wii U or PS4), Teslagrad
, Odin Sphere
on Vita, and Aegis of Earth
(for anything) are among many recent releases that never showed up at either store. If EA, UbiSoft, or Activision published it, yeah, you can probably find. Although even the 'heavies' have exceptions; finding Overwatch
was not an option for a couple weeks, and The Division
, and even Black Ops III
have disappeared for days or weeks at a time, especially during the initial launch. Nothing earth-shaking, but surprising, and different that it was a few years ago.
Well, thank goodness for online retailers, right? The last bastion for us physical media collectors! Well, about that...
, now I can't think of Bastion without thinking of that awesome
narrated indie game that- wait, no, I- nevermind. (Pic from Overwatch.wikia.com)
A year ago I reserved Zero Time Dilemma
. Actually I reserved two, one for each portable, each from different retailers. Neither has yet to appear, and one was unceremoniously cancelled. Online orders for Fallout 4
and Metal Gear Solid V
met with similar cancellation fates, without any good explanation. Exceptions compared to many successes, to be sure. But it shows there are no assurances, even with planning and patience.
And that's not even bringing up actually limited Limited Editions, Kickstarter or Limited Run Games.
Collecting physical copies of Vita games is like geocaching the internet while
paying collector prices on non-retro games. Image from Limited Run Games.
I know there is a popular notion that pre-ordering games is not only a bad practice, but is actively hurting the game industry. These days, between Amazon Prime's 20% off new releases and Best Buy's GCU discounts, I have to say that if you can get a discount on a new game and you know it's something you want to own and play, it may be worth considering. Five years ago, it was a simple matter of waiting it out and finding a discount; everything was going to go down in price eventually and likely be available. Nowadays, some games only a few years old ramp back up in price, and there are dozens of fairly recent games I'm still waiting to find cheap after several years of looking.
Have you seen me? Like, ever? (Seen from Wikipedia.)
The exception for me, and in fact the polar opposite, is digital releases. I keep slapping my hand when I see a digital release that I want to play. Literally, every game I have ever bought at full price ends up at half the price or less within a year or two, and often before I get to play it. Unless it is a developer I really want to support and buy new, I have convinced myself to wait. Chances are, between PS Plus and Games with Gold, I'll get it free anyway. And sometimes, my patience is rewarded with a physical release I'd prefer anyway (yay Killer Instinct
, Tales from the Borderlands
, Toy Soldiers
, Pinball Arcade
Gaming retail has changed rapidly in just a few years. Online retail and digital release has, as promised, altered how we buy new games, but it has also altered the basic availability of games we always assumed we'd be able to get sooner or later. I can't count the times a customer has come into our store and was genuinely surprised upon release day that we just didn't have any copies. Folks that never believed in pre-ordering are more and more left hunting down even popular titles. I've learned never to assume we have something in stock until I check, even for a Halo
or Call of Duty
. And if you want a Nintendo game, for heaven's sake, just pick it up when you can, because those babies sometimes disappear and never pop back in.
The standard budget considerations apply, naturally. Video games are still a luxury item by any measure. But for modern gamers as well as retro collectors, the rules are different now. I've worked in the industry for a long time and even I'm surprised at how different things are compared to just a few years ago. Sure, I'm getting older, and part of me is slow to adjust to the Brave New World. I just want to grab a few fun games to play in the meantime, and thought I'd share some warnings so you can do the same.
How are you liking Song of the Deep? I was going to pick it up until I watch the Giant Bomb quick look. There seems to be a large amount of trial and error with the game doing a poor job of communicating the mechanics. The game does look great in screenshots though.
@Addicted:If you see it at retail for its MSRP of $15, definitely grab it. Digitally, like mentioned I always wait for sales. But I think its definitely worth it. The art, music, and world design are top notch, and as for gameplay, I really think folks forget how these type of games usually play. Trial and error, backtracking, and experimentation without handholding are hallmarks inherent to the design. Personal opinion, of course. But if it looks like your prefered type of gameplay, I'd say it is well worth the asking price.
Then again, I think Number 9 is a decently fun game too, so my take on games isn't exactly the common one.
Also, the lateness of this article is all on me, and kudos to our kind EIC for keeping the ship on course.
@Slackur: Thanks. I'll take a look. I don't mind trial and error, backtracking, and experimentation but a small visual clue such as Dooms use of green lights to help you understand where you need to go would go a long way. Maybe I did forget how the mechanics of these games worked and I'm trying to figure out why Metroid can't crawl... http://kotaku.com/y-cant-metroid-crawl-guy-beats-metroid-is-hilarious-510191575 . I enjoyed Might No 9 as well as I wasn't expecting it to be Megaman 11.
You missed an opportunity to use the old man from the Phallanx box art on the top of this blog post.
@Addicted:Let us never forget the Great Jellyfish Sacrifice.
Doom was great like that, wasn't it? So many excellent quality-of-life tweaks.
Glad you liked MN9 for the same reasons as I. A fun parallel too, but not replacement for, MM and X. I truly think that if MN9 had released out-of-the-blue and without the background it has, gamers and critics would have enjoyed it much more.
As for the pic, Mr. Rich found that one. I agree though, that Phalanx Banjo Guy is classic.
As another not-so-youngster, I concur. Some of this makes sense to me, as there are just so many more games released these days compared to years ago. With the Prime discount, pre-ordering for me has become the norm. I don't have the time, nor the inclination to go rummage through modern game stores looking for new titles. I'll save that time for digging for the classics.
Slowly approaching the big four-oh myself, the changes that happened in retail actually forced me out of that space almost completely, and I settled onto the appropriate place for a man of my age (front lawn with garden hose). I even remember the last game I preordered; the collector's edition of Final Fantasy XII. Loved it, but the Gamestop employee looked hurt when I came in and cancelled all of my other preorders. But as soon as I think I'm clear of the retail sector, I get pulled back in, this time with the NES Classic Edition. I think most of us know how that is going to pan out (a bit like the first few years of the Wii, I imagine). I can only hope that the NES Classic Edition isn't come great experiment by the big N, never to be repeated again.
@slackur: Never forget.
The self aware nature of Doom and the backstory they built in to a character as generic as Doom Guy along with the return to a more frantic style of gameplay made Doom one of the best games I've played all year.
The YouTube channel My Life in Gaming just visited the Limited Run Games offices. I'm looking forward to seeing some of what goes on there.
@Duke: I'm 100% with you. The discount and free shipping makes it very easy to pre-order when you have to have a title such as Persona 5. I'm glad Limited Run Games exists and I hope to grab some of their titles as I work towards PS4 ownership.
@bombatomba: I'm hoping that some sort of expansion module is made for the NES Classic Edition so we can add more games.
@Addicted: At one time I think we could have accurately predicted what the Big N would do, but as of late I just don't know. Pokemon Go? NES Plug n Play? Nintendo done lost their minds. But in a good way.
@bombatomba: It's all about staying alive and with these new additions, Nintendo has obviously done that, so I'm happy. I hope that better things are to come.
In the latest My Life in Gaming livestream (timestamp 2:06) they mention how the Retro City Rampage reprint didn't sell as fast and people don't want it if it's not going to be collectable. They also mention that Limited Run Games mentioned that if a game doesn't sell out in 24 hours they receive messages from people asking to cancel their order because they don't think it will be rare.
I'd love to hear thoughts on this.
@Addicted:Well, sadly, actually limited Limited Editions attract resellers, which makes folks like me, who just want a physical edition and/or nifty extras like OSTs or Artbooks, stuck with competing. 'tis the nature of capitalism, I know. But I do feel saddened when anything gives the impression that only resellers are interested in this market. It's small and restricted as is, and this just makes it tougher.
I ordered a reprint of RCR because although I bought the game digitally on sale, I wanted a physical copy to own. Same with everything I get through Limited Run. If I ever sold them (not that I'm likely to) I wouldn't charge the stupid-high prices they can fetch. I know that's the market and its legit, but still, its pretty ridiculous IMHO.
As much as I don't care for the idea of pre-ordering, I have to admit, I do it often, though not so much with games. I have pre-ordered 4 of the 6 vinyl releases from Data Discs, the insane Street Fighter II vinyl boxset, and often back Kickstarter and IndieGogo projects from my favorite bands who've abandoned traditional markets. I backed Bloodstained, and am eagerly awaiting what IGA has in store for us with that. But I would much rather have the satisfaction of walking into the store, seeing the title on the shelf, and picking it up to make that purchase decision. That's the old fart in me talking, but I still enjoy the "shopping experience" part of it, and hope that never truly goes away with the video game market. I already miss it, by and large, with shopping for music CD's and to a lesser extent, vinyl. Good article.