The way we consume video games has changed immensely since the early 90s when I started. Writing this blog has forced me to reflect on my gaming habits or lack of as the case may seem…
Penniless Dads was created for many reasons but ultimately to look at the industry through the lens of a gamer who can no longer afford to keep up with new consoles and AAA releases. In the 90s, as a child it was a game for birthday or Xmas and that had to see you through unless you traded in. In the noughties – all grown up with a proper job and everything- I could afford a new full price game pretty much whenever I wanted. Now, supporting a family, my budget for me is £65 a month which has to cover clothes, social outings and, sometimes, video games. So, what does that get you?
Well quite a lot if you break down my spending habits in the last 10 weeks. Let’s explore what I’ve gained access to in this relatively short time frame. I subscribe to PlayStation Plus annually which is paid for with Xmas vouchers (12 games). In addition, I am signed up to a physical games rental service which gives me one rental a month for £3.99 (3 games). Xbox Live Gold has just had an offer for a month’s subscription for £1. That snagged me more (6 games). This also gave access to a 14 day trial of Xbox Games Pass (100 games). I actually bought some too! In the last 10 weeks, I’ve bought Snake Pass at £15.99, Resident Evil Bundle £11.99 (10 games) and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor Game of the Year for £11.99. That brings in a grand total of over 130 games (ignoring the backlog and EA Access) at my disposal for around the price of a AAA PS4/Xbox One release. That’s a lot of games. My usual playing time per week day is 30 mins which just about gives me time for 2 games of FIFA. I’ve got the week off so that gives me a bit more but I wonder: have we got too much? Would I had been better off simply buying a single game like Resident Evil 7 or Horizon: Zero Dawn?
No one is ever going to play 130 games in 10 weeks nor would it be healthy to do so. As with most things, the cream rises to the top. The game I’d been waiting to go on sale – the critically acclaimed Shadow of Mordor – is what I’ve been playing most. I also managed a run through a few of the free games on Games Pass but most of the Resi collection remains in my download queue. Another way of looking at it is I’ve played through the games I’ve specifically paid for. Snake Pass being my main distraction prior to Mordor. Ultimately this is the price of being in this position in life. We play games after the iron is striking hot. Mordor is a bit extreme 3 years after release however the usual cost of being ‘penniless’ is playing the games a quarter after release. I wonder, if this approach of waiting for sales, scrambling at ‘free’ game subscription services like PS Plus or renting has contributed to the hoarding culture of digital content?
With this pile up of content one wonders what our libraries will look like in another 20 years time. Will we have an unfathomable backlog? Is there a breaking point? This is before we even get started on Steam!