Like some of you, when I was a kid, I distinctly remember seeing all of the ads on television for the Nintendo Entertainment System and several of its games. Each time they came on, I was filled with excitement and longed for the day when I would own a square, gray box of my own. It wasn't until my grandparents' Christmas gift of a faulty telescope in 1987, that I was able to turn "misfortune" into gaming gold with the help of my older cousin and via the Customer Service Department at Brendle's. My parents were not pleased, but somehow my crafty maneuver paid off and I was able to keep it. And so began, not only my love for the NES, but a kind of gaming resourcefulness that would last a lifetime.
Enter 2015, a 38-year old gamer with a wife, two kids (another on the way), a new dog, a mortgage, and the same zest for gaming since he gave up the ability to look at the stars. Though unable to peer into space, several years ago, instead I began filling space with a collection that now consists of approximately 2,585 games across 35+ systems, and a great deal of accessories and controllers. Collecting has become a hobby and being able to now own systems and games I could only dream of during my very humble childhood and share them with my friends and family gives me great joy. As I've gotten older and earned greater responsibility, money has to be disbursed through various necessary channels and the appeal of buying new systems and games with my disposable income has greatly waned. Some might call this being "cheap," but that's really not the case at all. For me, there are various reasons why I choose to wait to purchase systems and typically stay a generation (and sometimes two generations behind).
Let me start off by saying that the purpose of this piece is not to be critical of anyone who purchases new systems or games at launch. This article was conceived to simply show the economics and reasoning behind what makes the scale tilt one way over the other for me. People who pay full retail certainly have a great passion for gaming and certainly reap some great benefits that come along with getting in early. In the modern age, someone who collects like I do risks the possibility of missing out on downloads if shops and servers close down for a particular console. I also miss out on the experience of playing games when they are hot and joining in on exciting discussions via on-line forums and with other friends who game. Likewise, I've completely missing out on on-line multi-player. Though this factor is probably the least important to me (as I prefer couch co-op), it's certainly something that anyone who collects like I do has to consider when weighing out their options. However, the factor that bothers me on a personal level the most is my lack of knowledge I have when it comes to newer games. I often exchange texts with several members on this site and any time a new game becomes the topic, I have little to offer to the conversation. Even when podcasting with my buddies on the Playcast or Collectorcast, I fear that the topic of newer games or systems will come up and I will have little, if noting, to offer. These limitations probably only scratch the surface of the things I am missing out on, but it's a choice I've made and it's what works best for me.
I recently thought up the idea for this article during my recent foray into collecting for the XBox 360. As some of you may know, I received one of my first last generation consoles last year, the PS3. I've really enjoyed this system and in the back of my mind, I've always been interested in the exclusives for its contemporary. A few weeks ago, I had noticed that prices on the 360 and its games had really plummeted and realized that now was as good a time as ever to pick one up. With a little research and of course using my RF Generation friends as resources, I was able to make a decision about which model would suit me best. Well, I went out of town last weekend to go game hunting with a friend and we happened to stop at a random pawn shop who had a great surplus of 360's and was liquidating them for the holidays. For a complete in box, 4GB (S) system, $55 was a kind of no brainer. Before I give a breakdown of the overall savings I have and hope to accomplish during this new venture (which is obvious, but maybe not as drastic as you may perceive), let me tell you a little about the other benefits of waiting for these prices to fall that you may not have considered:Multi-Platform Titles:
Though it has exclusivity of games has dropped on a greater scale than what it was years ago, it's still a thing for many of the older series and even a few new ones. A great amount of games (especially those on Playstation and XBox) are multi-platform titles. However, this doesn't always mean that the games being released on different systems don't play differently or have additional perks/downfalls over one another. As most of you know, sometimes games are just better on one platform as opposed to another and it has been this way for decades. Having a few years of on-line reviews and trusted friends opinions on which version is better is a great asset and often leads to a more enjoyable and money-saving gaming experience. Avoiding the Launch Day Blues:
The hype and excitement generated by a new game or system can have a great impact on your gaming enjoyment. I'm sure some of you have seen trailers of games/systems, gotten overly excited about a release, stood in line for a midnight release (maybe even in the elements), rushed home to play your new game/system, and within hours, or even minutes, have been greatly disappointed with your purchase. It's probably happened to all of us at one point or another, and it doesn't help that some media outlets have been paid for favorable reviews (we know it happens). The benefit of waiting to purchase a game/system is not always the economics, but also the time it allows for me to have a better understanding of whether or not a game is good or something that I would enjoy. Instead of allowing per-release media and trailers to color my perception of a game, I can wait to see actual, real-time gameplay footage and view positive and negative criticism from friends and reviewers that I trust. The legacy of a "good" game/system is not established at the beginning, but is a process that should stand the test of time. System/Game Failures:
One of the reasons that I held off for so long in purchasing a 360 was due to the constant reports of system failure that I heard about. No one who follows modern gaming is a stranger to the phrase, "The Red Ring of Death," and I'm sure that most of you either experienced this misfortune or at least know someone who did. Systems are not the only things prone to failure, and with wi-fi and the ability to now download content, game developers can now release "unfinished" or under-tested products that can be patched at a later date. While patches can be a great benefit in fixing unfounded production issues after a game has been released, some games (often the more unpopular ones) have low sales and/or fix demand, and may be written off by developers who do not want to spend the resources or time to make the game any better. Without the benefit of hindsight, launch consumers must take on the added risk of system and/or game failure. While the majority of the time, there are few if no issues, this is certainly something that has to be weighed out by those who choose to jump in early. Ability to Put Money Toward Rarer/Retro Titles:
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that waiting on system/game purchases saves money. It's simple economics, as demand goes down, prices follow suit (we will get to the hard numbers in a few moments). If you're a collector, saving money in one area, means that you can put more expendable income toward other things. In my case, it typically goes toward retro games. With some retro games, the launch price is far exceeded by present value (insert my growing frustration with obtaining Flintstones at Dinosaur Peak
and Little Samson
here); if you're a collector, the means to the end is likely unavoidable, unless you are lucky and/or have a good circle of collecting friends looking out for you. So what better way to acquire older and more time-tested games, than to waiting on current generation purchases and putting your savings toward them.The Economics:
As I mentioned earlier, the recent purchase of my XBox 360 is what spawned the idea for this article. I don't think this piece would be complete without displaying the hard numbers behind my decision to wait to this point to begin my collection. Please note that this far, I have only purchased my system, 250GB of additional memory, and two games (the additional games are those I plan to purchase soon). Launch prices for the system, the memory, and HD cable were researched online and the game prices are current as of 11/24/15 at Gamestop online. I felt that using Gamestop was a fair way to get pricing, since it seems to be the most convenient and popular place to obtain last generation games. As a result, the prices for these games could fluctuate some in terms of where they are purchased and if there are any discounts or sales available. Prices paid or expected to be paid for this system and games do not include tax, which would only make the savings greater.
Boxed XBox 360 4GB Slim w/ controller - $199.99 ($55*)
Additional Memory (250GB) - $129.99 ($34*)
HD cable - approx. $25 (free w/ console purchase*)
Total launch price: $354.98
Total amount I paid: $89.00
Approximate amount saved: $265.98
- $7Alan Wake
- $10Blue Dragon
- $3Crackdown 2
- $5Gears of War
- $3Gears of War 2
- $5Gears of War 3
- $5Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom
- $3Lost Odyssey
- $10Raiden Fighters Ace
- $5Raiden IV
- $10Wartech: Senko no Ronde
- $1XBox 360 Triple Pack
Grand Total: $100 + tax
The standard for new games seems to be in the ball park of $60-$65 + tax. However, I understand that not all games are released at this price, so I have chosen to use what I feel is a very conservative number in $50 per game. If I had purchased all 14 of the above games at their launch, I would have paid around $750 + tax, give or take. Compared to what I will pay for these games (not factoring in Gamestop or other local store sales), I will save around $650
at the least.Total System w/ Accessories & Games Savings: $915.98
Though this will not be the end all, be all of my 360 collection, I hope that this article will provide an thought-provoking insight as to my (and possibly other gamers) reasons for waiting to purchase systems and games. As my knowledge of the games and add-ons available for the 360 increases, my collection and savings will only grow. What are some of your favorite titles for the 360 that I should be on the lookout for?
I'm with you on waiting. If it weren't for the library and the free game rentals provided I wouldn't own any modern consoles. There are too many old games I still want. Congrats on the 360 purchase and games! Let me know what games you're looking for and I'll keep my eye out at the local goodwills.
..."the purpose of this piece is not to be critical of anyone who purchases new systems or games at launch..." - I'm even worse than that, I throw money on my games years before launch. Another case of an incurable Kickstarteritis chronicus.
Dude, I'm all about the wait. I used to have to force myself to wait on new stuff, especially new hardware. There was at one point a "7-year rule" I used to have. But like Addicted said, one day I realized just how many games from the past that I have never played and that was that. I still want the "new" but at the same time the knowledge that there are literally tens of thousands of games that I want to at least try (or at least read the instruction booklet) is a very humbling thought.
Dude, nice buy with the Xbox 360! I think I'm starting to get the itch, so 2016 might be the year I pick up a PS3.
@JamesGoblin: It's all in what makes you happy of course. I understand that I'm missing out on quite a lot by not adopting early, but it's what works best for me.
I get very excited for new hardware and the game possiblilties they bring. Last couple generations I have picked up a Wii and Wii U on launch day and had so much fun with them in the first several months that I felt it justified the price I paid, and luckily with Nintendo I don't have to worry about broken games or DLC to get what I want.
More recently with Bloodborne I had such an amazing experience of just being able to gush about the game with my friends and the occasional random stranger because we were all loving it at the same time. Something I'd have definitely missed out on if I held off. The game still would have been fantastic, but it really made me feel like a kid swapping maps, ideas, theories on lore, boss tips, secret areas, etc. on the school. Last time I remember having an experience like that was when Castlevania Symphony of the Night came out. Totally worth the extra cost in that case.
With those exceptions aside I am in complete agreement with you. I'm more than happy to wait around for most stuff and pick it up for a fraction of the price and let others find those hidden gems in the library so that I can benefit from their knowledge. As was painfully obvious in Bil's Top 5 Games of 2015 thread, there are fewer and fewer games coming out each year that are enticing me to buy them new at retail. I still like to get myself excited for potentially great new games and will drop the money and occasionally be dissapointed. E3 this year for instance got me pumped for half a dozen games coming out in the next couple years a few of which I may buy on launch day.
Everytime I get to have a great experience like with Bloodborne or Nintendoland I'm not thinking about all those times I got burned, I'm just having a blast gaming and sharing that with others in my life.
PS - I was adding up all those "savings" in your list and noticed that it was more than enough to grab a Little Samson............ so where's your Little Samson!?!?!
Great article! I think I'm in the same boat as Crabby about waiting for some games and being an early adopter for others (though I don't get to start every game early). There's definitely some huge advantages to waiting as you've pointed out.
Where I need to exercise more patience is with my retro collecting. When I started I would go into thrift shops or pawn shops and just scoop up pretty much everything I saw on for a retro console. Ebay was worse since it's so convenient when you can find a desired game at the click of a button. Now I watch Ebay listings like a hawk, track pricing trends, wait for sales/clear-outs; and for newer titles let the reviews come in and let the hype subside before jumping in.
Thanks for this article Rich!
I'm glad to see someone's finally comin' 'round to my way of thinkin'. I didn't pick up a PS3 or 360 until a couple months before PS4 and the XBone launched. It didn't hurt that I wasn't exactly enthused to add them to my collection ASAP. Like you, I had plenty of other stuff at home to work through.
Also, like you, I was concerned about getting one of the earlier-manufactured consoles, and ending up with a couple of expensive paperweights. Fortunately, both my PS3 and 360 are running well. 'Course, it helps that I only play them very sparingly.
I just bought Akai Katana and Raiden IV, but I paid a little more than you did. I purposely paid more for the Raiden game, though, because I sought out a complete copy with the bonus soundtrack disc, so that's okay. But $7 for Akai Katana, especially if it's CIB, is an absolute steal. I feel exactly the same way you do about buying systems well after launch, if not a generation (or two) behind. I bought my PlayStation in '99, my Saturn the same year, after it had been officially dead in the US for a year, my Game Cube at least 2 years after launch, my PS2 in 2005, my Xbox in 2006, my PSP the same year, my Wii in 2007 (if memory serves), and my PS3 I didn't get until 2012, at what should have been the system's twilight. I bought the Wii U a good year and a half after its launch, despite having wanted one since prior to the launch. If the hardware and game lineup is good enough, I might consider the Nintendo NX close to launch, assuming I have the money, but I have so much to game with now, it probably doesn't matter much.
Your focus here is on both games and systems, which is great. I have mentioned in forum posts that I'm buying PS2 and Xbox games for pennies on the dollar now, and the PS3/Xbox 360 stuff is starting to come down into that range as well. As you say, it's good to strike while the iron is hot, and now's the time for last gen stuff, and to an extent, even the previous generation. I still find good PlayStation games for next to nothing - not the rare stuff, mind you, but quality, fun titles that I've never owned/played, and will be worth putting time into. Great article man!