Monday, May 18, 2009
Not missing the boat
As you might have guessed from the titles, this post is related to the previous one. What I said there about the risks of missing the boat if you start playing a massively multiplayer game a year or more later completely reverses if we talk about single-player games. I'm currently catching up on single-player games I missed while being totally immersed in virtual worlds, and I notice some definitive advantages.
One, which is arguable shared with MMOs, is that games often are released in a bugged state, and patched in the year after release. Thus if I now play a game that was released over a year ago, I can usually already find one or several patches for it, and avoid some of the trouble the people who played it on release day experienced. Besides official patches, in games with a map editor or similar means of adding user-created content, it is easier to find lots of such content for older games than for games that are freshly released. That also is true for walkthroughs and cheats, for people who need those.
Another big advantage of starting a single-player game which was released a year or more ago is that prices from older computer games fall rapidly. That was always true, but when you bought all your games at the local computer store it wasn't always easy to find last years bargain. The bargain bin usually had already been picked clear of all decent games by other people, and some games simply couldn't be found a year later. The internet changed that.
While I did complain about Steam charging me 50 Euro for a 50 Dollar game, I have to admit that Steam isn't a bad source for older games. This weekend I bought the original Company of Heroes for 9.99. Which is a great bargain, if you consider that for the same money you could have had either Company of Heroes or Plants vs. Zombies. The Steam Weekend Deals are also often interesting, although I decided against buying Call of Duty 5 at half price, I still haven't started CoD4 yet, which supposedly is better anyway. But Steam isn't always the cheapest source for older games. Amazon for example has its "marketplace", where other sellers sell the things Amazon doesn't have in stock any more. I just ordered Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway for just £5.99 there.
A last advantage of buying games later is hardware requirements. The game that two year ago only ran on high-end computers now runs perfectly well on a medium-range machine. So all in all missing a single-player game and playing it a year or two later isn't such a bad thing. Of course you can't stretch that out forever. Playing 10 year old games now is going to hurt your eyes. :)