GR Showdown: Is It Worth Buying Games Day One?

GR Showdown pits the Game Revolution staff against each other in a passionate debate on a particular hot-button gaming topic. Our self-imposed rules? There is no middle groundall must take a side. All debates will have an equal number of representative on both sides: either 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 . And all our arguments must be made in 350 words or fewer; 500 or fewer, if it's 1-on-1. Which side are YOU on?

Since this is a special 1 vs 1 vs 1, each of us will have 350 words to dish out our response.


This Week's Topic: Is It Worth Buying Games Day One?


Anthony Severino – YES: I'm likely a rare case when I absolutely must own everything on day one. I'm what people call an early adopter. It’s a sickness; I am so even if I cannot afford it, or don’t even really want or need it. I can’t explain it, but it’s definitely an impulse that I often cannot control, made worse when it comes to my favorite pastime: video games.

I'm even more a sucker for hardware, where I spend whatever it takes to own a console on day one. But it’s like that for games—at least it is for the games I am interested in. Even before I took this job, I pre-ordered everything.

Now, having just participated in the Steam Summer Sale, scoring many great games for under $10, I understand bringing up the question of whether it’s worth buying on day one, or just waiting for the inevitable sale or price drop. I think about this two ways. One, you’re paying a premium to own this game, and have that experience before everyone else. That’s money well spent 90% of the time. We all have regrets, but I rarely regret buying a game on release date. And two, if everyone waited to buy their favorite game, the publisher and developer would lose out on a load of money, sales numbers would be low, which could lead to poor stock value performance for the company, layoffs of the staff, possible closures, and worse yet, the end of that particular franchise or game.

Maybe it’s because I meet and see the passion in the faces of many of these developers that I think about their well-being, their families, and their jobs each time I buy a game. And I take great satisfaction in knowing I’ve contributed to the people who make the games I love, which is yet another reason I rarely purchase used games.

Simply put, I have an uncontrollable urge to own everything on day one, and I both subconsciously and consciously use the fact I’m fueling the industry I love as a means to justify my addiction. 

Alex Osborn – MAYBE: If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I'm picky, fickle, and incredibly selective in just about every aspect of my life, and as you might expect, this very much applies to my video game-buying habits as well. On average, I only buy a couple of games a year and unless that game has HaloZelda, or Metal Gear in the title, I likely won't be buying it for full price on day one.

The harsh truth is that I don't have the same undying love for all video games as some of my fellow hardcore gamers do. That said, I do have an inherent loyalty to particular franchises that I know I want to stay immersed in. I dropped over $60 on a special edition copy of Halo 3 when that first launched and didn't think twice. In this particular case, I knew that I would be getting my money's worth and being a part of that initial excitement was too difficult to fight. That was also before I started writing about games in a professional capacity, so my cynicism wasn't quite at the level it is now.

So I'm taking the easy way out in answering this question by going with a yes-and-no approach. Certain games are worth the premium price of admission because being part of the day one conversation makes the extra bucks worth it. However, game prices do plummet rather quickly nowadays, and if I haven't been obsessing over a particular game for months on end, I have no problem waiting until the damage to my wallet is a bit easier to bear.


Nick Tan – NO: It seems the only reason why I pre-order anything is to make my GameStop friends happy (and employed). That is, unless it's an obscure JRPG that won't be in stock lest someone's got a pre-order, or if I want extra security on getting in a game for review if it's stuck in delivery to the office. But I rarely ever purchase games right on release day. Many times I let the pre-order roll on by and pick up the game later.

Because if I had a choice as a consumer, and not just as a reviewer with deadlines, getting games on release day is usually not worth the trouble or the money. Exceptions are rare—perhaps a game that needs to be played with friends to be enjoyable like Borderlands 2. The reason is simple; in fact, it's something that past just recently: Steam's Summer Sale. With some patience, I can get hefty discounts on titles that were once sold at $59.99, that could cost even more as Collector Editions with doodads I hardly read or use anyway.

Sometimes, I don't have to wait for the Steam discounts either. Most games I care about eventually come out with an Ultimate Collection or Game of the Year Edition with all of the DLC included in one happy bundle. Besides, I've got plenty of games to get through every year, and the feeling I get for having an awesome video game collection doesn't compare to the yearly savings I get from curtailing that impulse to purchase something I don't need, only want, the very first second it's available. All the "bad" reviews tend to come out on release day or afterwards anyway, because we all know why review embargos exist in this industry, yes?

Like Alex, I'm extremely selective. I only pay full retail price to developers and publishers I think deserve it, so as much as I would like to care about the welfare of the company's employees and their families, my wallet is not a charity for businesses to plunder on behalf of sympathy. That's reserved for actual charities.

Consumer power derives from our not buying things. More importantly, when most of us need money to feed ourselves and our families, purchase fuel for our car, pay bills, and otherwise live, it behooves us to spend our hard-earned money with hard-earned self-control.