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Perks of Being A Patient Gamer – And the Damage It’s Doing

It’s Steam Sale time, and that means those of us with powerful PCs are picking out indie games that will barely tax them. Happy holidays everyone! And yet the season has me thinking once more about the state of the gaming industry – and the perks of being a patient gamer.


I must own over 1,500 games, easy. I’m hoping one of these days I’ll finally play one or two of them. But within that backlog sits every genre and style imaginable. I have games from as far back as the 80s all the way through to today. I have titles that can blow my mind visually, or favourite classics where even the opening strains of the first splash screen makes me happy.

The obvious thing to say here is this: I should stop buying games. I agree. I won’t do it, but I agree. We bought 15 or so games over the last couple of days, and spent less than £30. They’ll either keep us going until the Christmas sale begins, or else we’ll be distracted and they’ll join the black void that is our catalogue of unplayed titles.

But with publishers struggling and even the biggest powerhouse developers playing it safe, now I look on my backlog with a slightly different view. What can anybody possibly offer me that I don’t already have? What is £70 worth to me when there’s nothing that can’t be replicated elsewhere within my library?

Firstly, this isn’t a dig at people like me. Playing it patient, getting games when they’re cheap and usually with DLC and fixes included isn’t a bad thing. It’s how the hobby is played for most. The allure of blockbuster advertising just isn’t a big deal to the general populace.

It’s still a problem publishers must overcome.

The Pains of Patient Gamers

The leaps we used to expect from our games have gone. There’ll never be a PlayStation to Dreamcast sized jump ever again. On top of that, games are getting harder to make. So the differences between sequels are getting smaller too.

For the patient gamer still waiting on Spider-Man to come down to a sensible price, the allure of Spider-Man 2 is non-existent. And if you’ve played the original and you’re desperate for more, Miles Morales fills that gap just as well. In fact, there are over 40 titles starring the Web-head officially released. Unless your criteria is as specific as “Sony published Spidey open-world game and I’ve already played the first two” then it pays to wait. Regardless of how good Spider-Man 2 is, it does nothing so radical that it can’t be gotten elsewhere in games we already own or that are significantly cheaper.

And so we go back to my original question. What can anybody possibly offer that isn’t already on the market? Innovation has stalled, publishers are relying on huge IP – often borrowed – to sell the same old products to the same old people.

The healthiest thing for the industry would be to open our wallets freely and fall for the marketing. Buy everything full price. Hype it up on social media. Convince our friends to do the same. Executives at gaming companies salivate at the thought of a consumer so uncritical.

But we are critical. We buy what interests us, at a price we believe it is worth. And as our collection goes up, the £70 for a new AAA game becomes a bigger and bigger ask. With that, target audiences must become narrower and narrower to guarantee day one sales.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott