Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gamefly & Guilt vs. Clutter, Inconvenience & Cost

I was driving home last night when this happened. Did anyone else experience it? I had a tough time describing it to Jen and presumed I'd never hear an explanation, but she sent me the link. Neat.

I just finished my first fall season game, Uncharted 2, which feels shameful for someone that loves games as much as I do. I usually do an admirable job of keeping up with fall games but this year, like last, feels lagged. One reason is Gamefly. Because gamers tend to want the same games at the same time, top items in a Gamefly queue tend to be difficult to rent. The reason why I recently got through Bowser's Inside Story instead of Uncharted 2 is because it was sent first. It's also why Ghostbusters (#16) appeared in my mailbox before queue items #1-15. And sending a game back for something new is about a six day turnaround assuming they have something else to send me. As a gamer, this lag time is one of the hardest things to bear about the service, and now I keep a separate queue list and only store the stuff I absolutely must have next on Gamefly. So why keep using it?

First, because I hate stuff. After weening myself from a physical CD collection and seeing the light of digital distribution, I've applied the same philosophy to all objects to the point of not wanting old yearbooks or journals; I just want to scan in the "nostalgic pages" and get rid of stuff. The biggest reason for using Gamefly was to remove the buildup of games I would never realistically revisit. As a side note, digital distribution would also do the trick.

Second, I hate dealing with brick and mortar stores. Gamestop is a blight that goes out of its way to make its customers feel invalid. I feel disgusting after being guilted for not being interested in a used copy, not preordering, not buying a guide, and after being rubbed with the employees' collective gaming id. For months I went out of my way to buy from vendors that bothered to simply stock games and sell them, but they also tended to be out of touch with their stock, sometimes leaving me empty-handed. Gamefly let me avoid the entire thing. Again, as a side note, digital distribution would also do the trick.

Third and last is cost; a bigger deal since quitting the day job. Two years ago Gamefly (~$300/yr.) saved me $600+ from games the three-month fall season alone. But despite having no income, I feel guilt for not doing more to support my peers. And, like putting a little makeup on an ax wound, I bother to wonder whether game prices are messed up sooner than I rectify my lack of spending.


  1. Holy sh*t dude that meteor is crazy! I can't believe they got it on film!

    I think video games are super expensive - not worth it, to me. But buying used games online works pretty good for us.

  2. I have been feeling the same was about "stuff" recently. I have been buying more and more games from Steam. I don't have an Xbox 360, so I tend to wait until the game is ported to PC, then play it with a 360 controller on my PC via Steam.

    The reason I like Steam so much, is that it's usually $10 cheaper or more than the same title on console, plus they keep a library of my games that I can choose to install if and when I want, wherever I want.

    I recently bought a new computer. It was way easier to just visit Steam, and re-install the games I knew I would be playing, and leave the rest, rather than hunt through my office for the CDs and the serial numbers.

    Agreed... Digital Download is the way of the future :)

  3. Steam has always made me happy, too. I presume it has its opponents (?), but if so I'm not familiar with their arguments. And I should get a wired controller, for my current projects if nothing else!

  4. I kind of like stuff, especially when it's organized. I like the process of physically organizing it. Cards are probably my favorite. But...

    I too don't care for physical discs these days. Seems weird or old school to put one in a console even. I mostly play PSN, XBLA, Steam, Android games. Not sure if it's because those games have no physical media, but I think there's something to it.

    Perhaps it's more that I am starting to dislike "big" games in general. Unfair to "big" games, I know, but they just intimidate me...multi-disc sounds like I really don't want to play it. That's a far cry from the days when I was in awe of FF7's 3 whole discs.

  5. Oh, and you're right on with Gamestop. I hate that I am a slave to that place when a new game comes out. I bought their stock with my head (monopoly=good revenue, right?), not my heart. Now their stock is my absolute worst performer.

    I don't think anyone likes going there...seems like a competitor could really destroy them. I had hopes for play-n-trade, but that place just reeks of despair. I won't ever go back because it's so sad in there.

  6. Interesting that big games intimidate. Do you think that's a developer speaking, or is it something else?

  7. Undoubtedly being an insider has influenced me. "Intimidate" is probably the wrong word--it was late. Most big budget titles strike me as pretentious and self-aggrandizing, which makes me less interested in checking them out. There are occasional exceptions (e.g. Bioshock), but they're rare these days.

  8. How does BioShock 2 make you feel, out of curiosity? I know a sequel to that game is obvious, but it seems kind "grossly" obvious to me, without knowing much about it.