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Community Spotlight: Buying at Launch

Posted by MikeB Sunday December 23 2012 at 8:12PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Is Buying a Game at Launch a Bad Idea?" by Talonsin. Talonsin is re-evaluating things on this front and seeks input from the community:

Are game companies teaching us that it is wrong to invest in new games right away?  My example is The Secret World.  If you purchased the game at launch you paid $50 and then if you played a second month you paid another $15 for a total of $65 for two months.  Last week the game was on sale for $15 and is now free after that.  You also only need to pay $5 every 6 weeks to keep up on DLC’s.  It has also happened with many other games, I’m not picking on FunCom.

It just seems to me that gaming companies are continuing to show us more and more that their products only have value for a few months followed by a sharp decrease in worth.  It is also showing us that if a person does not care for cosmetics, then lifetime subs are way overpriced as that money could buy points for the actual game content for many years and probably longer than you would actually play the game.

I am currently thinking of starting a New Years resolution for 2013 and not buy any new games until they have been out for 6 months.  Think of all the things this saves you from, classes you trained for getting nerfed, first month server queues, high priced/low level items on auction house and terrible bugs following launch.  Sure I don’t get in on day one and level with people but on purely financial and entertainment value, at least to me, it seems that game companies continue to show us that waiting 6 months is the best idea.

Quizzical agrees with the notion of waiting a bit:

Yes, buying a game at launch is a bad idea.  It's much easier to manage an online game if there is a steady stream of new players over a long period of time than if everyone who will ever play jumps in on launch day.  So it makes a lot of sense to charge a premium to be the first ones in, and then get rid of that premium some months later.  Games also become more polished as bugs and imbalances get fixed after launch, so you not only pay less if you wait several months, but you get a better product, too.

How long to wait really depends on the game, and I don't think a hard and fast rule of 6 months makes sense.  A few months is plenty for some games, while some others are such a mess at launch that they need years to get fixed up.  Many games will never be good enough to be worth playing, but you don't know which ones those are if you jump in on launch day.

azzamasin would rather be in the game at launch day:

I woudl much rather get started in a game from the ground floor then come in at a later point in time.  In fact theres not one MMO I joined after release that I lasted for longer then a few weeks as opposed to starting at release.

Besides for me, the anticipation and hype of discovering a game that fits your needs is half the fun.  As opposed to joinging after release based on some others testimony *which I never put any stock in what so ever).  I enjoy following a game from announcement through alpha and betas till release.

Volkon offers a middle-of-the-road approach:

Depends on the game. I bought GW2 way before launch and haven't regretted it for a moment, it's nice being in the game from the (pre)beginning and seeing it grow along side you. However, other games may not provide a positive result for many people. Just be sure you know what you're getting into as best as you can instead of leaping blindly into whatever some ad or forumite claims is the next best game ever.

I guess I have a bit of a weird situation. Being in the gaming press I often get to check out the upcoming MMOs extensively before they go live, so I generally have a good idea of whether or not I am going to enjoy the final product. With that said, this 'advantage' of mine really isn't much of one anymore. There are often ample opportunities for gamers to get into betas these days and sample an upcoming MMO. Beta tests are often treated as marketing nowadays, so these betas are often little more than a demo of the final product.

I say, if you think you find yourself interested in an upcoming MMO, just give the beta a shot as close to launch as possible and make your decision from there. Maybe the game seems like a good fit but could use a couple months of polish and you can hold off. Maybe the game is as pure awesome as you'd hoped it would be and you find yourself convinced it'd be a great day one buy.

Of course, with the advent of free-to-play, this all may be moot. If you can just download the game for free on launch day then there really isn't anything aside from your time and bandwidth cap (if you have one) to consider.