Whenever Matt Hewson feels like going on a killing spree, he comes here instead. In other words, we have the H-Bombs column to thank for our very lives
It is that wonderful time of year, when we lose our collective minds and delve into a spending frenzy, snapping up some awesome (and not so awesome) PC titles at amazing prices. Bank accounts are emptied, credit cards are maxed out and throughout the gaming community, two minute noodles are consumed every night until the next payday rolls round. That’s right, it’s Steam sales time. Despite the drain on our finances, most of us have an enormous grin plastered on our faces. The knowledge that there are so many gaming hours ahead of us is something that tickles that very special part of the brain reserved for telling us about the best things in life. The question is, are we getting too much of a good thing?
Take me for example. During this year’s sales, I have picked up no fewer than 21 games, not including DLC, for the measly price of around $75 all up. That’s right, $75 dollars for a bunch of games including big hits like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Assassins Creed: Revelations and Batman: Arkham City. If I had spent $75 dollars on those three games alone, it would have been a bargain. I also bought classics that I used to love like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and games I wasn’t sure of but couldn’t resist as such a low price like Mirror’s Edge. I repurchased games that I previously owned on console but lost or traded such as Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition and titles that were worth a try solely because they were so cheap like Dead Rising 2: Off the Record. I even bought games that I still own on console because the full game with all the DLC was cheaper on Steam than buying just the DLC for my console versions.
When I look back at this list of rationalisations (and I am man enough to admit that is what they are) I realise I am quite possibly buying games simply for the sake of owning them. Sure I am happy with my selections and I can’t wait to get through as many as I can, but will I actually be able to finish all 21 games? To be honest, I have no chance. If I sat at my PC for the next couple of months with a constant stream of crust pizza deliveries, extra strong cappuccinos and an IV drip, I might have a outside shot, but the reality is life will unfortunately get in the road of that slobbish, yet strangely appealing dream. Wife, kids, jobs and a steady stream of even more games will all conspire to ensure that some of these 21 games will be sitting on my pile of shame forever. I can’t even plead that these purchases were spur of the moment. For the past month or so I have avoided sales at places like EB and JB Hi Fi knowing that the Steam sales were coming up. My gaming kitty was being stocked for the inevitable mass purchase that I knew was coming.
It seems that I am not the lone example of this behaviour either. If my Twitter feed is anything to go by, many, many people are indulging in a glut of insanely priced games. Some mates have purchased even more titles than I have. In fact, according to my super precise methods of investigation (Twitter and my friends list on Steam) some people have shelled out for upwards of 40 games. The question, of course, is why do we buy so many games even though we know we will never finish them?
Well, I have a two pronged theory. The first is we are Australian. Being Australian means we are blessed with some of the best beaches, climates, cities and beer in the world. There has to be something to counter all of this awesomeness, so the world has decided that because we have it so good down here, we have to pay ridiculous prices for IT related gear, especially software. We all know how much we get stung when it comes to buying games, so when we get an opportunity comes to buy amazing games for $10, it is bound to release a few endorphins into our system and encourage us to open our wallets.
The second part of my theory is that these cheap prices give us chance to play a game we loved in the past but lost, a chance to play that game we weren’t sure of, a chance to try a genre we have never experienced before. These opportunities are hard to find in gaming. Reviews give us all a guide to which releases are likely to be good but a lot of the time it comes down to personal preference. I can think of plenty of games that I loved even as the majority dismissed them, or titles that I found to be boring while the press declared them GOTY material. Demos are the other option we have, but quite often they are a poor indication of the final product. Many times I have written off a game because of a bad demo before discovering down the track that it was quite good. The Steam sales give us these second chances for a price that likely to sit well with all but the most frugal.
So, to go back to my opening questions, are the Steam sales too much of a good thing? I have come to the conclusion that no, they are not. Getting my hands on so many new and classic experiences, even if I never get a chance to finish them, is never a bad thing. If a game cost me $3 and I only play it for a couple of hours, well, as far as I am concerned, that is $3 well spent. After all, a movie ticket is upwards of $20 these days. My selfish motivation for writing this article is to justify to myself (and quite possibly my wife) why I buy so many games at these sales. After examining the facts, I feel I have done just that. So you see honey, it is perfectly fine to buy 21 new games in one week. I don’t know what you were worried about.