When to buy a game?

The recent release of the newest Call of Duty iteration has, for the first time, left me with more questions than answers and finds me wondering about how people decide whether or not they will plunk down their hard-earned cash on something they don’t know about.

Unfortunately my usual purchasing process doesn’t shed too much light on how I make my decisions; my role in this organization has me effectively duty-bound to get my hands on the latest releases as soon as they come out.. yet this time around it hasn’t happened. It’s not for lack of trying: as the release date was rounding the bend I launched threads in our forums, initiated chats in our voice server and on Steam asking at least seventy five of my closest gaming pals whether or not they were picking it up.

I’ve done the same with every COD version since the franchise started and it’s starting to look like there’s been a significant shift in attitudes: my PC gaming network seems to have turned cautious on new releases with only the most die-hard COD fans (a number which dwindled significantly due to MW2 and WaW) and/or those with more disposable income having been the ones that purchased it. Translation: I think I only know one person who doesn’t fall in to one of those categories who actually bought the game – a shockingly low result.

I’m surprised because given the slim pickings that FPS offers on PC I thought more would impulsively buy something which would surely carry high production values. I’m surprised because though the COD stories aren’t masterfully written they are stunningly immersive and truly highlight how video games can be a more active/exciting experience than watching films. I’m surprised because most of the hype seems to be being ignored.

Drilling down on review sites and their related aggregators reveals glowing reviews, some with casual references to a few glitches. Leaving the shiny corporate review sites behind and going a bit deeper you will be slammed with countless forum posts made by gamers screaming about everything from not being able to launch the game through to complaints about the audio/visual assets and the usual balance issues. User reviews are far closer to the middle of the scale as opposed to their through-the-roof commercial counterparts.

I’m swamped with questions — what does it all mean? Have we finally adjusted the risk-meter to wait-and-see levels? Is this gaming community actually going to wait for a demo? Have we all started doubting the veracity of review sites? Is developing a working, contemporary game on PC so difficult to get right? Is this good news or are we shooting ourselves in the foot? Is that awesome video card you’ve got going to get hot enough over the next little while to justify its purchase? Do the repeated technical failures of game developers make the homogenous (albeit controller-challenged) console market more attractive to PC gamers?

I really don’t know what to make of it but I definitely find the subject interesting and can’t wait to see the platform sales numbers, I’d love to hear your opinion on the matter, let me know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *