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By 11 September 2021
It’s easier than ever to get games cheap or free.
Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here. Some highlights:
– Have you ever played a game so much it changes your dreams?
– Which underappreciated comic book character deserves their own game?
– What ‘dead genre’ deserves a comeback?
Have you been spoiled by Game Pass, Steam sales, Epic giveaways, and free-to-play multiplayer games that resemble yet are legally distinct from multiplayer games that are not free-to-play? Are you as they say in France le tightwad, or do you still pay the recommended retail price for your videogames like a gosh dang chump? That’s right, you’re getting insulted either way because we’re all losers under capitalism.
Do you buy games for full price?
Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.
Natalie Clayton: I’m absolutely the person who mainlines one game for months at a time (what’s up, Apex), so when I do end up getting something new I don’t feel particularly pressured to wait or hunt for a deal. Even then, it’s usually a small Itch developer I’m happy to give money to. I’m usually only buying big, full-priced things on Switch, where games never go on discount and Splatoon 2 still costs £50—though with 700+ hours in that thing and a respectable competitive league showing under my belt, I’m happy to say I got my money’s worth with that.
Graeme Meredith: With indie games I’m always happy to spend a little more, but when it comes to big industry games, I don’t pay full price unless it is absolutely certain I’ll have a valuable experience. However, I am acutely aware (as everyone should be) that when Sony pushes their prices up to £70 it is purely to change your spending mindset to perceive £50 as a good ‘sale price’… that used to be the price tag we were avoiding in waiting for a sale, now they want us to think that’s the bargain. So yeah, when I bought Returnal digitally for PS5 for £50, that was the full price.
Jody Macgregor: Unless we’re counting games I’ve bought as presents, the last one I remember paying full price for was Griftlands, which wasn’t expensive to begin with and, since it was made by the same people as Invisible Inc. and Don’t Starve, was a pretty safe purchase. I don’t usually buy games when they’re not on sale, but I’ve always been a cheapass, even before digital storefronts and permasales. I’m the kind of person who will go to my grave still grinding my teeth about how much I paid for Silent Hill 3.
Robin Valentine: Most of the time I’m patient when it comes to games—I’ve got no end of stuff to play already, so I usually don’t mind waiting for a better deal on something I’m interested in.
But at the same time I can be very impulsive. If I decide I really want to play something right now, I’ll fork out for it before I have a chance to really think it through. I don’t tend to resent paying full price for games like a lot of people I know do. On the whole games tend to be a good enough value proposition that I don’t think £50 or whatever is a big ask (or much less for indies).
It also depends on the platform a bit for me. On PC I’m used to regular big sales so I’m more inclined to be patient, whereas on consoles, especially Switch, I tend to pay full price or close to, because I know deep discounts are less common and predictable.
Lauren Aitken: Yes, especially if I’m excited about day one launch (looking at you, KOTOR). Also if I’m feeling lazy and just want the game now I’ll pay for a digi version like I did with the ME Legendary Edition. Sometimes I even pay extra for a special edition because I’m a right idiot.
Christopher Livingston: I’m kind of an instant gratification guy with poor impulse control, so if I want to play a game I’ll buy it at full price. Even if it’s something that’s been on sale in the past and is sure to be on sale soon in the future, I have no patience. I just can’t not be doing the thing I want to do, so I’ll just grab it right then and there. Luckily I don’t play a whole lot of $60 games or I’d probably be in trouble.
Andy Chalk: Sometimes. It really depends on the game. I go full pop for indie stuff whenever possible, and while I don’t throw in for crowdfunded projects as much as I used to, I generally aim for a middle-high tier when I do. (I’m still a box guy.) Major publisher releases though, not so much. Not that I have any great problem with game prices (I think they’ve been remarkably stable overall), I just don’t see the point.
Look at it this way: I paid, I think, $20 for The Witcher 3 a couple years ago. (I still kick myself for sleeping on the collector’s box, but that’s a matter for another day.) That got me absolutely everything—expansions, free DLC, the works—in the best, most stable and bug-free version of the game possible. I missed out on the excitement of being part of that first wave of players, which is definitely a loss, but the better overall experience more than makes up for it, especially at the vastly reduced price. So why would I pay the full tag when I’m virtually assured that all I’m getting for my money is a smaller, shittier experience than I’ll get if I wait for the price to drop?
Phil Savage: I’m mostly playing live service games at the moment, and so yeah, if I know I’ll get my money out of it, I’ll happily pay down for a battle pass or expansion. I’ll be buying the version of Destiny 2’s next expansion, The Witch Queen, that bundles the 30th Anniversary dungeon and all of next year’s seasons, because—even though it costs $100/£88—I know I’ll play enough to justify it.
For other games, it really depends. I’ll happily pay down for an indie game that catches my eye, because the price point generally seems reasonable. Wildermyth was the most recent, and at around £20, it was easily worth it. But as larger games get more and more expensive—rising to £50, even £60 for a new release—I’m definitely becoming less impulsive. There are enough games in my backlog—and enough live service games in my rotation—that I’m rarely in a rush to jump on the latest release instead of just waiting for it to go on sale.
Richard Stanton: This question made me weirdly nostalgic for my student days, when myself and a few mates had a communal Gamecube and we’d all chip in £10 to get the latest multiplayer game. I have real trouble thinking back to the last game I bought full price: I think it was Mario Odyssey on Switch, and on PC you’d be going way back to the original launch of Skyrim. I remember Skyrim so well because I’m always wary of playing Bethesda games at launch (I know that’s a cliché but, seriously: imagine what it was like reviewing them a month before release) and then when the actual day came I just for some reason got hype and gave Todd Howard his gold coin.
I think sales really have kneecapped the full price market. There are games I would buy at launch—Elden Ring, for example—but I feel no rush to play the vast majority, I know they’ll definitely be heavily discounted at some point, and I’ve got a million unplayed games anyway. That said I do think there’s something here the games industry should be cautious of, which is generally devaluing its own products. Games have always provided fantastic value-for-money and are better than ever at it: I don’t think companies should hesitate to slap a premium price on a genuinely premium product, and hold it there.
Zloth: Mostly no, though I recently found myself looking for a new (for me, “new” means “been out long enough to release most of its DLC”) game but without a sale to be found! I tried playing an old game from my GOG backlog, but it just wasn’t doing the job. I bit the bullet and bought Mercenaries 5 for full price. That’s the only time I’ve paid full price in years.
McStabStab: Now that I’m a responsible adult and can afford it I do. Resident Evil 8, Cyberpunk 2077, and Red Dead Redemption 2 have been some of the recent full priced $60+ games I’ve snagged. Also a few smaller indie games like Mini Motorways and Dorfromantik. Sometimes you just don’t want to wait for a sale to play, and if you can afford it, why not?
Colif: I live in Australia, our prices have always been higher, and I hate to think what new AAA games cost here now… In the past I have probably paid full price but I don’t buy that many games anymore. When they over $100 each you get a little picky.
Brian Boru: I used to in the 90s & 00s, but very rarely recently—it probably coincided with devs stopping the release of playable demos, which made buying games much more of a gamble… especially with the state of many new releases in the last ~5 years.
I paid full price—all $20—for Command & Conquer Remastered last year after the initial player reviews were very positive. I can’t think of another full price in the last decade, altho possibly for some small indie title or two.
Frindis: I did bite the bullet when I bought Cyberpunk 2077 for full price believing it would live up to its hype and being CDPR. We all know how that went… I very seldom buy games at full price, but when I do, it is most of the time an indie game. Often they are sold for a decent full price and it also feels better to support a small company, than a AAA company spewing out generic content, which they often do.
Alm: I think Steam sales have kept me from buying more games on release. With my backlog and knowing what I could pay later down the line I don’t pay full price so much these days.
bh3bh3: That depends on the game. If I urge to play the game then I’ll buy it ASAP but yet I still mostly wait for discounts before buying.
mainer: Ages ago, before the Steam age, when we went to the local mall to check out new releases at Game Stop or Electronics Boutique, I would often buy games at full price. But full price for a new AAA game was usually around $39.99 USD.
Nowadays, I’m always on the lookout for sales like most of us are, but I also will buy a game at full price at times, though that usually depends on the game developer. Games from Bethesda (as long as it’s single player, no FO76 for me) are usually a full priced purchase. Starfield and the next Elder Scrolls game (if I’m still breathing) definitely fit that scenario. The next Mass Effect & Dragon Age games from Bioware will be full priced purchases also, assuming they don’t screw up the singleplayer game and make it some kind of online-only atrocity. Games from Piranha Bytes and Larian are also games I have no problem paying full price for, as I love those studios and have no problem helping to support them.
CD Projekt Red used to be in that group of developers, but like Frindis, I got burned on a full price purchase of Cyberpunk 2077. It was too difficult not to buy into all the hype and videos before release, if I could have just waited a few days for some reviews; but I didn’t. So while it doesn’t label me as “le tightwad” as PCG Jody said, it does say I’m more of “le idiot”.
Kaamos_Llama: Mostly I won’t pay full price for a AAA game unless its something I’m very excited for, its very rare. I bought Sekiro full price day one, and I’ll buy Elden Ring day one no questions asked. I also paid full price for Total War Warhammer 2 because I played hundreds of hours of the first game and I really loved the multiplayer at the time. Crusader Kings 3 I played a fair amount of on Gamepass and then bought it full whack because I liked it a lot although I think it was ‘only’ 50. Other then those I can’t remember anything for years.
Games from a lesser known studio or indies, whatever that means now, that are 20 or 30 Euros I’m more likely to get full price. If I buy an indie on sale really cheap and I really enjoy it I’ll buy DLC if its available.
IndecentLouie: I haven’t payed full price for a game in at least 10 years unless the original price of that game is around £5. Pretty much every game I own has been purchased from sales, bundles or give-aways. Never from those shady key resellers though. I think it’s better to wait a year or two so one would be playing a fully patched/updated version with any DLC that might have been released.
Pifanjr: Very rarely. I did recently buy Tricky Towers while it wasn’t on sale so I could play it immediately with some friends. With all of the games in my backlog and all of the free games from the Epic store I don’t really need to buy games any more unless it’s to play with other people.
Sarafan: If you’d ask me a year ago, I would say that it doesn’t happen. Things have changed however since the release of Cyberpunk 2077. Now I’m buying games for full price from time to time. It’s not easy to do so considering the fact that most of them have a tendency to get on sale very quickly after their initial release. I like however the feeling of playing games as one of the first from the regular gamers group. It’s also a form of support for the developers and publishers. A few days ago I grabbed four Star Trek games that were re-released on GOG despite the fact that they were not on sale. We deserve for more classic Star Trek games to be re-released and I hope that players support will convince the owners of the property rights that it’s a good thing to do.
ZedClampet: I pretty much have to know that I’m going to play it. If a game is on deep discount, I’ll grab it if I have any interest at all, but not for full price. Usually this means the game is a sequel to something I loved. For the rest of this year, for instance, I expect to get Total War Warhammer 3, Farming Simulator 21, Far Cry 6 and Dying Light 2 (it’s a huge gaming year for me) as soon as they release because of the amount of time I spent in the previous versions. There are other games releasing that I’m sort of interested in, but I’ll wait until they go on pretty decent discounts. Something like Deathloop seems fascinating to me, but I didn’t make it that far in Dishonored or Prey because I’m not much into either stealth or shooters, so it would be dumb of me to take a chance on it for $60.
Jody’s first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia’s first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He’s written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody’s first article for PC Gamer was published in 2015, he edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and actually did play every Warhammer videogame.
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