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Does Buying A Game Day One Matter?
Are you one of those people who buy games on the day of release? Some do, some don’t, but I can tell you right now that I buy most games on day one. This is probably because I have zero patience: I’m almost incapable of not playing a game RIGHT when it comes out. I also like keeping up with the industry and being able to talk about all of the new things happening in the gaming world, which is easier if you play a game from day one. You know what I don’t like though? Missing content, having the game glitch out on me, or CONSTANTLY downloading patches! There are ups and downs to everything, but I’m slowly starting to feel burned by games. The bigger the game, the worse the burn. So this begs the question: is it really worth buying a game on day one?
Like I said, I have an impulse to buy games on day one. Sometimes, that puts me at the forefront of being able to speak the wonders of a new experience while it’s still new. Take Alan Wake, for instance. I bought it on day one, took it home, loaded the disc into my Xbox 360 and had the ride of my life. From the very beginning of the game it makes you feel uneasy and leaves you questioning the entire town. From beginning to end, I loved every second. I began speaking of the wonders of Alan Wake to everyone that would listen, and even to some people who didn’t want to. Sadly, for a very long time, I was one of a very small group of people who had played the game.
If I hadn’t have bought the game on day one though, I don’t know if I would have ever played it. I was the only one in my group of friends that had even heard of it, so the fact that I saw some stuff from E3 that peaked my interest is a god send! By getting it day one it felt like I was some sort of VIP and only I held the power for others to get into some exclusive room. Obviously that isn’t true, but that’s how I felt. From that point on I knew if anything interested me I had to follow through with a day one purchase. If myself, and many other passionate fans didn’t express how we had all felt about the game, it may have disappeared entirely from the public eye. Buying a game day one means you get to be a part of this small crowd and spread the word on how wondrous and and magnificent a game is.
Now, this is going to be a very un-popular opinion, so stick with me: when I first played Fallout 3, I hated it. Okay, maybe hate is too strong of a word. I disliked it so much I actively decided to not spend time playing it, even if it was the only game I had at the time. The bugs and just general lack of polish put me off something fierce.
It was almost a year after buying Fallout 3 that I finally went back and gave it a real chance. Lo and behold, I liked it. In fact I downright loved it. I didn’t get stuck in the ground anymore, I didn’t randomly lose saves, and my PIP boy no longer got stuck in my face, forcing me to turn the game off and on again just to keep playing. Without the updates and multiple patches, Fallout 3 would have just been another broken game in the long and storied history of broken games.
After I finished Fallout 3 in 2010 I was ready for something completely different. For me, this is when the hype really started building for Alice: Madness Returns. I loved the original, American McGee’s Alice, and so naturally I was expecting a great experience. I watched every trailer, read every news story, and I even pre-ordered. I was there at midnight, got the game home and started playing and…I was underwhelmed.
The game felt outdated and too clunky for me. This may have been a case of too much hype on my part – perhaps I expected too much from the game. I loved the art style, and some of the story elements were very interesting, but I just couldn’t enjoy my time with it. I never did go back to it, so I can’t tell you if they fixed some of the issues I had with how the game felt, but I know the feelings I had on day one gave me no incentive to second guess my choice. That’s one of the issues with a day one purchase: a bad experience can really put you off playing it again, no matter how many improvements are rolled out.
So with all this being said, and with The Witcher 3 recently out, I can’t help but ask the question: “Should I even have bothered buying it on day one?” I ask that because in three months the game will be more polished. In three months the game will have more content: whether through DLC or free updates, more content is bound to show up.
Am I getting a lesser product by buying in early? If I don’t buy in early, would there ever be content in the future? If there is content, but not enough people bought it day one, does that make the content that they ARE putting out of a lesser quality? It’s just a head scratching issue. It’s not just this game that presents those issues, but it is a good example (personally CD Projekt RED seem to be loyal to the fans, so I don’t think it’ll be too bad).
Arkham Knight is another worrying example for a day one purchase: months before the game even comes out they announce a huge $40 DLC plan. What?? Before the public even has their hands on the game, they want a extra $40?? Does the whole story not feature at day one? Does it make it an inferior product and, if so, should I bother paying full price for it? Or is it a fear that if you don’t buy it day one you might miss out?
I’ll leave you with this one mind-boggling question: is a game ever really done when you can walk into a store and buy it on day one, or is the game done on month 3 when they finally roll out all of the patches and DLC? I know that I’ll probably keep buying games on day one due to my lack of patience. That, and sometimes being a part of a small community of people to play a game first feels awesome. In some cases you wind up having to be the guinea pig, which can lead to discovering some truly hilarious bugs (and who doesn’t love a good funny bug?) of course there’s also the free content that you get for adopting early, or pre-ordering, if that’s your thing. However, if anyone ever tells me that they won’t buy a game until the Game of the Year edition comes out, I’ll completely understand. There is an argument to be made for either side.
So, how about you? Are you a Day one or a Day ninety buyer?