Tobold's Blog
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Fallout 4

I just put Fallout 4 on my Steam Wishlist. That means I am not willing to pay full price for it, but will probably pick it up at some point if a sale offers at least 50% rebate. I made this decision *after* checking various reviews, Metacritic, and Steam user reviews. Basically critics and players agree that Fallout 4 is "okay". Review scores around 85, Steam use reviews "mostly positive". These days I'm not paying full price for "good" games any more, there are too many of them. I pay full price for "great" games, and wait for a sale on the "good" ones.

So I am quite happy that I didn't pre-purchase Fallout 4. Not that there was much danger of that: I was quite annoyed when I found out that the pre-purchase offer for Fallout 4 came out on the same day as the game was announced! To me that smelled too much of greed, and of relying on the brand name instead of showing something from the game first before asking for money. I barely ever pre-purchase single-player games these days, not even XCOM 2, in spite of the chance being high that I buy it on release.

I did however pre-purchase the next WoW expansion, Legion, although I am pretty sure that Legion also will be only "good", and not "great". But MMORPG expansions have different dynamics: There are no Steam sales, you can get the expansion for cheap only after the next one comes out. And while a single-player game might well be better a year later when it has been patched, a MMORPG expansion is best when everybody else is playing.

Pretty sure your money would have been better spent on Fallout 4 over another boring WoW expansion, but I'm not Blizzard's target audience anymore.
I find it almost impossible to understand buying decisions of this kind. Either you want something or you don't. Either you can afford it or you can't. It really is that simple.

How does it make any sense for something to be more valuable to you because it costs less? The value is intrinsic and unalterable, surely? There's a very clear and real issue over whether you can afford the purchase, but that, again, is a non-alterable factor. Unless you literally cannot afford a game at full price, what's the motivation for not buying it at the time you want it? (other, of course, than not having the time or opportunity to play it right then, but that's another matter entirely)

To me, it's very clear that if you are able and willing to defer purchase until a lower price point appears you do not, in fact, want that game. Want and not-want are fixed, static poles, not the opposite ends of a scale. If you wait to buy something when it falls to, say, 50% of its original price, you have simply spent the smaller amount of money on something you have already confirmed you do not want.

This must be how people end up with huge Steam libraries of things they either never play or that they end up compelling themselves to "work through". Moreover, if you only buy things you do want, at the price they cost when you understand that you want them, you will almost certainly spend less money overall and (assuming you understand your own wants reasonably well) you will spend most of your time only playing games you enjoy.

Of course, we all sometimes fall into the trap of buying things we don't want because they are "bargains" but that's a trap to seek to avoid, a psychological trick being played upon us by organizations keen to separate us from money we would otherwise not be giving them. It's not something to be held up as an example of rational forethought, is it?
Bhagpuss, where you have gone astray is with the statement "Want and not-want are fixed, static poles, not the opposite ends of a scale."

That's simply not true of most peoples purchasing decisions.

An example for me was the French Revolution Assassin's Creed - I haven't bought it yet, because it doesn't have pirate ships, but given I have played all other Assassin's Creed games, if the price was right I would probably buy it and play it.
The value is intrinsic and unalterable, surely?

Now imagine Fallout 4 to me has an intrinsic and unalterable value of $30. Paying $50 for it thus would be stupid. Paying $25 for it would be a good deal.

Want and not-want are not static at all. Everything has a specific value *to me*, and if I can get the item at equal or lower a price than that, I buy it. I *want* a Ferrari, but not at the price they are on offer.
Falloyt 4 is good if you're a Fallout enthusiast/maniac, in which case you will like it no matter the crap you will see. The amount of bugs and glitches is ridiculous for a (nearly) 2016 triple-A videogame. It's basically a reskinned Skyrim with the same engine glitches and "decent" graphics. I've tried it and I was honestly embarassed when I saw animations, textures and dialogues. I thought people were over-reacting but yes, it's true. It looks outdated and old. I'd say "mediocre" is a good term. People go crazy for "beheading enemies" and "building my own base, it's super cool" (my opinion: Terraria does a better job).

Bethesda put zero effort into fine-tuning and polishing the game. As they always do, they simply lets the modders do the job. This is something Fallout fans will gladly accept: paying full price for a mediocre product "which our modders friends will fix for us!". When you're a true fan you will swallow anything.

If Fallout 4 it was called "Afterwar 4" it would have been destroyed by magazines and gamers. It sells because "hey, it's Fallout!" but there are no excuses for the lazy shortucts, bugs, glitches and cheap animations. For a good story I just read a book. When I play a videogame I want a great product under every aspect: story, gameplay, music/sounds effects and graphics.

My opinion is that FO4 isn't worth the money. I would pay $5 if I had to. No more.
I understand what Bhagpuss is saying and I kinda agree with him I guess. You (Tobold) very often remembered us (on this blog) that you have no problems with money (meaning you can safely spend hundreds of dollars per year on tablet games, for example, without financially hurting your family/real life).

Now the point is: if you want a game, you want it now. Not "when it will be cheaper". When you want "power and status" what do you do? You spend money to climb the ranks and be accepted as one of those who spent money. Is it worth it? Not for me, but yes, sure... for you. So you spend. You don't wait for a cheap offer: you want to go higher now, today.

Spending $50 today or $25 in a few months will make zero difference for you, given that you're financially in a good position (you're not a student, unemployed, poor, etc). Maybe you don't realize/feel it but I think you don't really want the game, you're not interested in it. You read about FO4 and maybe it piques your interest but... that's all.

If a game costs $60 and you think it's value isn't that high, you really do not "want/like" it, in my opinion. Example: I don't spend much for videogames but when a big-hit is coming out I'll throw my money at the screen: Blizzard titles are almost always a day-one purchase for me. I love that company, I love their products, customer care, attention to detail and more. I feel the money they ask is more than deserved. I don't wait, I want them when they are available to everyone.

Buying a Ferrari at low cost would make you look cheap. Buying a luxury car and trying to save money on it is just a "no-no", in my opinion. It's like driving slow to save gasoline... that would be sad, you wouldn't enjoy the product the way you should. Also, you would appear as someone who wants to be rich... but who isn't.
I disagree with Bhagpuss. I want far more things than I can afford money or time for, so I choose. And when I find something special in the clearance counter of my local supermarket, I enjoy it all the more!

As for games, tastes are personal. Often - as some have indicated - we like a series or genre and will happily buy even a mediocre outing. The things that have to be great to make us buy them are actually the series/genres we *don't* really want all that much, so we will go for the best to improve our chances of enjoying it, and because we won't be buying a wide range of similar items!
@ Gerry

Your point is correct, we tend to spend more for a title we like (even if it's not "the best") while we need "the best" from a game/genere that we don't really like a lot. On the other hand, this behaviour leads software houses/developers to be lazy when they know the product has a huge fanbase (Battlefield, StarWars titles, Bethesda titles, ...). Why spending resources if a mediocre product will sell like hotcakes?

This is why I find funny that people actually "like" Fallout: I consider it a mediocre product, flawed in many aspects and tecnhically behind other 2015-2014 titles. It really has nothing special.
I claim Bhag is using value two ways. How much you value X is independent of price. The value of purchasing X is determined by how much you value X relative to how much it costs.

E.g., you want a second WoW account (RAF mount) to work on during the Christmas holidays. Or you want to buy some more coins/inventory for LotRo or STO. And you believe "Black Friday", Nov 27, WoW will be $5 and the rest will be 30% off. One has to be pretty indifferent to money to not wait 13 days for something without an urgent need.

IMO, this is exacerbated by the increasing millions of companies who only want $5-15 per month of my money. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus,BBC America (eventually), Audible, CBS, NBC, HBO, Showtime, Youtube Red, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Apple Music, Google Music, Spotify, and a dozen MMOs.
I guess there is noone on steam who has actually played all the games he bought, so new games compete with those. Half my library are unfinished by me, actually I can't think of any game I buy at full price on launch day (other then the next expansion of WoW because let's face it I'm definitely gonna play that).

Btw, steam let's you play the library of other people if you trust them enough to log into your account from their machine. Only downside is both of you have to play in offline mode if your friend plays your game and you want to play at the same time. I do that for my broke ass sister. So if you know a RL friend who bought Fallout 4 maybe try family sharing on steam.
ps: I should clarify: steam family sharing needs logging in at others machines only once to set the whole thing up and authorize their PC, they don't play using your login.
No one seems to be weighing time as a factor in here. I pre-ordered Fallout 4 because its one of the few games I know I will play and complete, probably multiple times. It's also one of the few games coming out that I am making time for, something that is very precious to me. I'm sure there are people who don't like Fallout 4, and I'm sure reviewers are going to be mixed on it; but Bethesda would have to have seriously dropped the ball on this one to really have made me regret the prepurchase...for some, "prettier Skyrim enginer with more options" is not a slur, but a good design goal.

Now, to contrast: I probably will not get WoW: Legion. It is the first expansion I know I won't play. I also bailed on Guild Wars 2 (no time). I have not purchased Rise of the Tomb Raider, either....but that's because the prior Tomb Raider lies in my Steam collection waiting for me to play it. If I ever get a chance to finish it, then I'll put the sequel on my radar....but like you, Tobold, I'd probably buy RotTR if I saw it on a good sale, even if I wasn't ready to play, because Why Not? I know I'd like to try it out some day....but a compelling price helps bridge the gap on ownership and makes playing it one step closer to reality. So Yeah, I can appreciate the idea.

(And yes, Bethesda fanboy that I am, I have bought all the TESO expansions as they arrive).
Besides what others have already pointed out regarding want and not-want being a spectrum of desire (I could want Fallout 4, but want another game MORE, and choose to spend my monthly entertainment budget on one and not the other), value is also not an unchanging quality.

In some cases, eg. cars, cell phones, computers, etc. value tends to drop over time, due to obsolescence of the tech within, failing parts = need for more service/maintenance, etc. In other cases, like real estate, value might rise over time if you chose a good location that has an increasing demand.

In the case of video games, the price tag value tends to follow the obsolescence model. Less people are interested in playing it when it isn't being played by everyone else and being talked about at the same time. For players that aren't interested in the socio-entertainment value of launch day hype, it actually makes a great deal of sense to wait until the price tag value drops. (At the same time, as bugs get fixed and more things get patched, the -quality- of the game is liable to rise, making it even more worth a lower price tag.)
Rugus what platform did you play F4 on? On PC I haven't run into a single crash or major bug (animation twitching on occasion is maybe the most notable thing), and have finished one play-through and I'm into a second.

Also if F4 isn't game of the year on PC for 2015, there is some serious corrupt voting.
@syncaine: Corrupt voting? Fallout 4 doesn't have a chance in hell against The Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid V. Metacritic lists Fallout 4 as only the 8th best PC game of the year. And that is just by the critics score, the users give it a rather lousy 5.1 out of 10. Unless somebody makes a game of the year award in which you are the only voter, this simply won't happen.
I'm not sure you should place so much weight on things like user reviews. User reviews suffer from so many problems that the meta critic score is pointless. Meta critic in general is one of the worst ways to try to determine if a game is good.

Fallout 4 is simple though. Did you like fallout 3? New Vegas? Skyrim? Fallout 4 took the best bits from those games then added in mine craft and an upgraded crafting system.

Just in these comments you see how devise this game is. For me it is definitely worth $60 and will probably be the only game I play throughout the rest of this year. When mods launch next year I know I will probably get another hundred hours out of it.

If that's not you then fallout might not be worth that $60 and that's fine. The same way you might spend money on say world of tanks but when I tried it I just didn't like that game at all.

I do think fallout has a good chance of winning many game of the year awards though. Witcher 3 is the only game I think even comes close to being a game of the year contender in my book. But then again I'm not too into shooters anymore and halo 5 and cod did both just launch so who knows.
@ syncaine

PC, always! I can't play games on our Xbox (apart from Fifa and few platform games with my kids). I personally had two crashes on Windows 10 (one freeze, one desktop crash) but that's not a big deal: everything else IS a problem for me. Sorry but comparing this game with recent tiltes would be blasphemy (Tobold gave some good examples). I mean, even GTAV is light years ahead, compared to FO4. There is simply no competition.

I have it on xbox one and haven't run into major bugs. For someone not having the game Rugus seems to know more about finding bugs then people playing it ;)

It's actually been the smoothest Bethesda experience I've ever had. Both skyrim and fallout 3 I had multiple game crashing bugs when they first launched.
I thought at first that you were someone bashing the game without playing it. It sucks that you bought it and don't like it that much. Have you tried getting a refund for it? I haven't tried the steam refund system but supposedly it is actually useful now.
@ Bigeye

Steam's refund works for the first 2 hours only, which is a short timeframe to test a MMO (in general). Instead, use a the Steam Family Sharing service: it's a cool way to play for free by using a friend's (or family member's) game. You can't play at the same time, obviously, but you can play while the owner is not playing it. Just request access to FO4 and you'll see it in your library. Install, play, hapy testing (I initially went the Torrent route but having more than one friend who got it I just lended it from them, I hate torrenting and I avoid it as much as possible).

With that said: I don't think FO4 is a total crap, at all. It's fine, it's a nice post-apocalyptic title with "decent" graphcs and an old engine (sorry, it really made its time in my opinion). I think that you need to LOVE the Fallout series to consider it worth an award. Tecnhically speaking is just pathetic (check the shadows, for example).
> I just lended

Sorry, it was "lent". I hate I can't edit comments, Tobold please oh please I LOVE your blog to death but add a better commenting system (Disqus, it's cool and extremely popular!), I beg you :-( because as a non-English user I often need to re-check stuff. It makes me feel bad when I do these kind of basic errors.
@Rugus: Must be a Win10 thing (why any gamer took that free upgrade is beyond me) or something hardware specific, because on Win7 I haven't run into any issues, and that's playing the game on Ultra. I think the general consensus is that this is the most bug-free Bethesda release yet. Can't speak to the quality of the torrented version of course, but I don't waste my time with those.

What's funny is that people are making comparisons to Witcher 3, when that game launched in a much worse state on the PC (unplayable on Ultra day-one), to say nothing about its pretty glaring design flaws. But hey, rando ragers on metacritic can't be wrong!

We'll just wait until the awards to come out to see how well Tobold predictions hold up this time.
Well, you can always hand out "Syncaine's game of the year award" and prove me wrong. I'm pretty sure there are dozens of different websites, game magazines, and organizations giving out game of the year awards, so Fallout might get one there as well. To make any prediction, you will have to precise which game of the year award, given out by which organization, you think Fallout will win.
"Unless somebody makes a game of the year award in which you are the only voter, this simply won't happen." - Tobold

"I'm pretty sure there are dozens of different websites, game magazines, and organizations giving out game of the year awards, so Fallout might get one there as well." - Tobold, a little later

Consistency! Almost as good as this review off Metacritic:

"Fallout 4 is best appreciated over time. Play it for ten hours and the game will likely feel underwhelming. Play it for fifty then see if you can stop yourself from playing it for fifty more."

So the review is basically saying "F4 is an awesome 100hrs+ of gaming". Guess the score? 70! Did you write that review Tobold, because it seems to follow your brand of logic and consistency?

Plus considering the game scored 90+ at sites like IGN, Gamespot and Polygon, I'm not too worried about being the only major player to hand it a GOTY award.

I find it interesting that it seems most of the discussion about Fallout 4 is about whether its graphics are to of the line, or if it is buggy, or if its gameplay follows is similar enough to Fallout3/New Vegas.

It seems the one category that truly matters is being left out: Is it fun?
@syncaine: What I am saying is that Fallout 4 will not get *the* D.I.C.E. game of the year award. But of course even the Wikipedia page on game of the year awards lists dozens of them, and nobody is keeping anyone from creating his own. So the Fallout 4 fanboi site could well give Fallout 4 *a* game of the year award. Which is pretty insignificant, because it isn't *the* game of the year award from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.

Oh, and Fallout 4 won't get the Golden Joystick 2015 either, that one has already been awarded to The Witcher 3.
@ Matthew

I personally need gameplay, story AND graphics. For me, obviously, graphics are a huge component. If I want a great story I can read a book. If I want immersion I'll go for a videogame where graphics/environments/npcs are crucial to let me ... "immerse" in that world.

This is where Fallout fails: I simply don't "like" the way it's done, because the engine is old/outdated. Npcs move and talk in weird/old ways, they look like puppets. Graphics are mostly "ok" with some extreme situations where you don't even have basic shadowing and stuff seems to float on the ground. Enemies? Some stuff could be cool if it was animated/textured with a good engine. I honestly felt I was playing an old title. Not something that came out less than 2 months before 2016.

If your mind/eyes can accept or ignore the aesthetics I am sure the game can give you more. For me, sadly, it's not enough. That does not mean I pretend incredible graphics, bleieve me. I play WoW so I am used to crappy engines. It's jsut in this case it doesn't fit, it's... ugly. That's it.
Dang I knew people liked W3, but game of the year? Guess I ought to try and get past my hate of the controls on PC... Or maybe just buy a controller one of these days... I really liked the game but i hated the controls to the point where i simply quit, i must be missing something I guess.

I'm currently playing Shadow of Mordor, and the controls with keyboard and mouse are just awkward, because many of the moves depend on pressing several buttons at the same time. But I bought an XBox controller a while ago, and with that the game runs just fine. With all those multi-platform games these days, some PC games you just need a gamepad for now.
How does it make any sense for something to be more valuable to you because it costs less?

It makes a whole lot of sense: Consumer Surplus.


I find it amusing that you're waiting on Fallout 4, but willing to spend $10/day on a mobile P2W game that you surely will get less playtime out of in comparison. Or maybe you have gotten 50-100 hours out of League of Angels already?
@ Azuriel

Maybe I'm wrong, but gaming is still a form of entertainment that is largely driven by disposable income. Gamers are intuitive, and they largely understand that developers are incentivised to price a game as close to the demand curve as possible. A mistake on either side wipes out any perceived surplus, whether it be profits for the developer, or added value on the gamers part. But how does one judge what a quantifiable metric for gamers should be? Between the F2P model, Steam sales, Apple and their schenanigans - gamers are being driven to pricing models that make sense at the end of the day.
That makes sense.

I find the perk system and the possibilities of the crafting system to hit the spot for me.

Although part of might be that I haven't played many top tier games recently so the graphics don't really seem all that bad in comparison to what I am used to (up till now I've been resorting to NWN for my rpg fix).

You didn't pre-purchase Legion. You purchased it. The money has left your account and gone into Blizzard's. Of course, you haven't got the goods yet, but the purchase is definitely over!


On the same note, somebody mentioned that they'd pre-ordered Fallout 4, when in fact they ordered Fallout 4. The order has not been delivered yet, but they definitely put the order in.

This weaselly "pre-" is marketing BS designed to keep you from dwelling too much on the obvious: you gave them money, they have not yet given you what you paid your money for. I have also purchased Legion. Blizzard has my money, I have their promise. Well, okay. I also have a new level 100.

@ Dàchéng

That's not entirely true: you pay in advance to get "more", compared to those who will spend the same money 10 months later... and will not get pets/perks/bonuses. Blizzard clearly tells you what you are paying for, it's not a promise. There is obviously a risk that you will a) stop caring about WoW during the next 10 months or b) the expansion will be crap (which I doubt).

I think that Blizzard is one of the very few companies that you can trust 100%. Sure, they're not perfect but they usually deliver what they advertise.
Agreed, Rugus. I'm not really complaining about paying and not yet receiving, or I wouldn't have purchased Legion until it was available for release. It's really just the "pre-" bit that bugs me. It's a piece of grammatical nonsense. I've even seen "pre-prepare"! When I asked somebody who had used the term what it meant, his response was that he had prepared it beforehand. As if it were possible to prepare at any other time.
Well... "pre-" is used for "in advance". So it's just "order the game in advance, before it gets released". The full way to spell it would be "Pre-release purchase".
How does it make any sense for something to be more valuable to you because it costs less?

Not only does it make sense, but it can be measured.
Well Bhag, I think you may have hit on why your perspective on MMOs is so unusual.

Being unable to find the middle between want/don't want is how people end up spending an enormous amount of time on shitty MMOs. The value proposition in terms of time and money are ignored, and only the want is given importance.

It's all on a scale. It's why nobody owns every book, and seen every movie, or drives a luxury car. You have no scale, which is why you find even the most monotonous game play entertaining. You aren't thinking about all the other things you could be doing instead, and without that comparison almost anything will entertain you.

The value proposition in terms of time and money are ignored, and only the want is given importance.

I know you addressed this to Bhagpuss, but I would really love to hear your take on why time and money continue to be used as a debate point when pricing models and revenue schemes have wiped out all but the slightest ambiguity or disparity between the two. For the majority of gamers, we're talking about entertainment(otherwise known as free) time and disposable income. People continue to talk about games as if playtime were occupying time that should otherwise be spent at work, or that the money they were spending on games should be going towards the house payment instead.

This particular debate point has become invalid and outdated.
When you're spending 40+ hours a week on an MMO, hell yes you are giving up other things, like your health and fitness, family and friends, your job, education, culture, or creative hobbies. It's inevitable that several things on that list are going to be on the back burner. So it's not 'outdated' to think there's better uses of a persons time than a hardcore WoW addiction. The level of play that people consider casual is insane.

The time aspect is typically a much bigger expense than the money, though I guess that might not be as true with F2P (hence a lot of the bitching about it; it makes the cost quantifiable.

At 160 to 200 hours a month, the argument that it's just like any other pointless hobby is bunk. And I never said that watching TV for 200 hours a month is a good thing, so don't pull out that canard.

@ 8f559f86-7761-11e3-ac30-000bcdcb8a73 (who?)

> When you're spending 40+ hours a week on an MMO, hell yes you
> are giving up other things, like your health and fitness, family
> and friends, your job, education, culture, or creative hobbies.

Obsessed/addicted players will hardly admit they have a problem. They will keep telling you "I have a great life, amazing wife, cute kids, perfect job and I earn more money than you". On the long run, the truth is often different: the wife isn't "so" happy, kids don't really talk to their father, health isn't THAT perfect, etc.

I always tell people that gaming addiction/obsession is like obesity: you will never stop eating like a pig until you focus and realize you have a problem. Awareness of your condition is the first step to recovery.
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