I can think of about half a dozen good games that I've played over the past ten years that I bought as soon as they were released. Going back all the way to the beginning of my illustrious gaming career, that number perhaps doubles.
For those of you who are counting, that's a dozen games in more than twenty years.
Now I'm willing to admit that my memory fails me from time to time, and that there might be a game or two from the past two decades that I'm forgetting, but the basic fact is that I just don't buy games when they first come out.
By way of an explanation, allow me to suggest the following equation:
Describe the number of games you'll be able to purchase this fiscal year as a solid integer X (GameGuru, please stay out of this). Now multiply that number by two.
The result will be how many games I can buy relative to you, with the same amount of money just by waiting a few months.
2X = more_games
This suggests another equation.
If the original price of a game were expressed as ($$), time in months were expressed as (t) and the price of the same game after a few months were expressed as ($), then the following equation would hold true:
$ < $$
What's astounding to me is not the fact that the above equation is true, but that, knowing it is true, a lot of folks still shell out bodacious bucks for games and consoles as soon as they hit the shelves. As if exposure to the air will cause them to ferment and become less than what they were. When the truth is, as any good vintner will tell you, fermentation tends to make a great many things far more than what they originally were. But I digress ...
Perhaps there's some sense of satisfaction that comes with owning an item as soon as it's released that I'm incapable of grokking. Perhaps the joy of possessing a freshly pressed game is some mathematical constant which exponentially increases the owner's satisfaction factor. Or perhaps there is an equation which can explain the decay in excitement over a period of time for a game in the months that follow its release.
Let's see if we can work it out. Those of with your trusty Ti-80s, please follow along!
If the joy bestowed by a given game were represented as ( ), the amount of time the game has been available in weeks were represented as (t), the price of the game as ($), the quality of the graphics as (HD), a reviewer's circulation as (IGN), the amount of money spent by the publisher on advertising as (EA), the presence of multiplayer modes as (MP), the presence of celebrity voices as (Samuel_L_Jackson) and a license as (STARWARS), then the following equation may apply:
= [($ x HD) + (IGN x EA) + (MP x STARWARS)² + Samuel_L_Jackson] ÷ t
For some reason the above equation holds no sway over me. Perhaps because I have patience. That is why last week, when a lot of people were grabbing sixty-dollar copies of Kameo and Madden 06 for a console that hadn't even been released (grand total: US$120.00), I was in the EB buying pre-played (10% off thanks to my EBEdge card, thank you very much) copies of Resident Evil 0 and Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem for the GameCube (Grand total: US$25.00).
I played about three hours of RE0 that very same evening hoping for an experience somewhat similar to that of RE4 (which I enjoyed a lot more than I expected to) and was not entirely disappointed. RE4 was the first Resident Evil game I'd played since Code Veronica on the Dreamcast, and it was somewhat of a departure (which is why I enjoyed it so much). RE0 however is much more of a kind with the original (of which I played about three hours on the PS1 before losing interest). Same difficult control scheme, same stilted camera angles, same stupid typewriter-ribbon save system. The presentation is nice and the atmosphere is plenty scary though. I may play it through or I may not. Depends on how desperate I get this winter.
Although the real success story of my cheapo game buying spree is Eternal Darkness. In spite of some camera issues and one particular enemy (aptly named The Horror) that refuses to die no matter how many times I hurl my controller at it, Eternal Darkness is the best action/adventure game I have played in a long time. Not only is it fun to play, it is also apparently fun to watch. As evidenced by the fact that my girlfriend would repeatedly get up from the couch, retrieve my controller and hand it back to me so that she could watch me play more. Or die more as it were.
This is how we passed a leisurely Saturday evening. I would play, become engrossed in the story, revel in the gameplay and then get beaten down by The Horror, become horribly frustrated for a few minutes, take a potty break, refresh my cocktail and then get right back in the game.
The fact that I was simultaneously attempting to roast a slightly frozen 7-pound chicken (thereby delaying dinner until approximately midnight) probably contributed to the frustration level. So I'm willing to say that minus the Frozen Fowl Frustration Factor, Eternal Darkness is about as perfect a game as I've played recently.
Now imagine my surprise when I decided to save and shut down for the night and discovered (thanks to the handy counter on the save screen) that I'd only been playing for about six and a half hours and (if the reviews are to be believed, and this game truly does clock in at 20-90 hours) that I was potentially only one fifteenth of the way through the game. A game for which I spent only US$9.99.
This suggested yet another equation:
If Patience were represented as (pomegranate_seeds), the quality of a game as (awesome) and price as ($), then:
= (awesome x pomegranate_seeds²) - $
To those of you who who'll be spending the months ahead humping your Xboxen360, waiting for the interesting games to arrive or repeatedly slitting your wrists because of the shortages I say this: as you're looking at your bank balance attempting to justify the expenditure of almost $1000 (or more) for the right to possess that shiny yet relatively barren console, try not to dwell too much on the fact that next year I'll own that exact same console with the exact same games, perhaps with a better processor and definitely with a much, much lower price tag and will have spent the winter playing a back catalog of fresh, exciting games for the very first time. And, because I have patience, I'll be enjoying the experience a lot more.
Not that I'm bragging or anything. Happy Holidays!