It’s something we ask ourselves each new generation, and it’s a question that has so far left us with no easy answers. Buy first and risk letting a console sit while we wait for games, or buy later and risk missing out on the biggest initial communities? In the age-old debate of whether or not you should go through with a launch-day purchase, we want to go further beyond eventual acceptance of ‘hindsight is 20-20’, to help you make the right decision today.
Matching the Dream to the Reality
Like so many things in life, we often approach gaming with unrealistic predictions of how much we’ll engage. We too often view our gaming future with rose-tinted glasses, hoping to get as much out of new experiences as we did at the peak of our playing lives. What you need to understand is that nostalgia is fickle, and too often our gaming eyes are bigger than our digital stomachs.
For a direct example of this, consider this article by Ars Technica on Steam user stats. In their research, they found that around 37% of the games on Steam had never once been played. Additionally, another 17% of games had been played for less than an hour. What that means is that in roughly 50% of all cases, purchasing a game was a practical waste.
Important to note here is that this is an older article, dating back to 2014. However, given the enormous growth in gaming deals like those from Humble Bundle, the problem is unlikely to have gotten any better and is likely more pronounced today than ever. So, are you a dreamer, or do you always follow through with your gaming plans?
What do you Have Time For?
Ultimately, time is probably going to be the largest deciding factor on which everything else is built. If you don’t have the time, you aren’t going to be able to appreciate new systems or games, making some ideas non-starters. To get a better look at what we mean, let’s consider gaming alongside other types of entertainment.
Maybe you want to buy a new console to get started on the long-promising Cyberpunk 2077, slated to be released on the 19th of November. So far, indications from developer CD Projekt Red are that this game will be slightly shorter than their previous title, The Witcher 3. The main story alone in TW3 takes around 52 hours so even in the best possible situation, can you realistically see yourself being free to tackle something nearly that long?
It’s a similar problem we see with television series when we miss the original airings. Sure, we might like the idea of checking out Doctor Who or the entirety of The Simpsons, but with 764 and 639 episodes respectively, adult lives simply don’t afford us the time. This is one of the reasons why mobile entertainment has become so popular among adults, as a much more viable option for flexible engagement.
One of the more popular ways this has been illustrated in modern years is through online casino titles. Whether on desktop, laptop, or mobile devices, systems like these place a premium on the versatility of play-time. You can sit down and enjoy something like live roulette for a couple of hours, or take a single spin on a slot like Mega Moolah, either way works fine. In comparison, with most major video games, such adaptability is rarely possible.
Weigh these ideas, and consider which direction you have taken recently in terms of free time, and which direction you are likely to go in the future. Sometimes cheaper alternatives can be worth much more in the long run, it just depends on your situation.
Predicting the Unpredictable
The final aspect primary aspect which potential customers need to keep in mind is that launch consoles don’t exactly have a flawless record. The most famous example of this in modern history comes from the launch of the Xbox 360 in 2005. Due to a design flaw, around a quarter of all initial 360s suffered from the dreaded ‘red ring of death’, or RROD. Rendering these consoles useless, the problems affected hundreds of thousands of customers and cost Microsoft $1.15 billion to fix.
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Taking these factors into account, and it might seem obvious where we stand on the question of whether or not you should buy a console at launch. That said, there are many millions of gamers out there from whom all of these potential issues are nothing of the sort. Many of us are dedicated, have the time, and have no problem waiting for a warranty in the admittedly rare case of system failure.
The question is a personal one, which can only be answered by being honest with yourself about what your life affords. Be optimistically measured, rather than blindly hopeful, and you’ll be a lot more likely to make a choice you can stand by. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have to check our savings.