Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 09, 2017
Regrets, I've had a few ...

I recently bought the game Egglia for $10 for my iPad, and now I regret that purchase. 10 bucks is relatively expensive for an iOS game, and the game turned out to be far from what I wanted. The description, as an JRPG with turn-based tactical combat on a hex grid, looked like exactly my sort of game. But in reality the combat system is so simplistic (you roll a six-sided die, which both tells you how many spaces you can advance, and how hard you can hit at the end of the turn) that it simply isn't much fun at all. It just feels totally random, there are no tactical decisions to make, and after a short while of hoping that it would get better, I just got completely bored with the game.

Of course that isn't the first time that I regret buying a game. I bought my first computer in 1981, and in the 36 years since I have bought a lot of computer games, some of which certainly disappointed. But the regret about Egglia stood out because it was going against a trend: Over time the percentage of disappointments in buying computer games has massively decreased. That is not because computer games are somehow better these days than they were before. Well, in technical specifications they are obviously better, but the games of 2017 aren't necessarily better games or more fun than the games of the 1980's. However two things changed since then: It is now much easier to get information about games before buying them, and the financial stakes are lower.

If today I buy a game on Steam, I first look at the user reviews. Not just the simple percentage of positive reviews, but what exactly the people who gave negative reviews are complaining about. I also check game reviews not on a single publication, but aggregated on Metacritic, again looking what are the strong and weak points mentioned. A game where somebody else gives a bad score because it is slow and makes him think too much might be a game I value more highly. A game that gets bad scores for being an unfinished mess full of bugs might be better to stay away from, at least for the moment.

Time is an important factor. I bought No Man's Sky nearly a year after release, and haven't regretted the purchase. I paid far less than the full price, and with the various patches the game had enough content by then and less problems, so that I felt that I got a reasonably number of hours of entertainment bang for my bucks. I'm pretty sure I would have regretted buying the same game on day 1.

On the iPad there are even less games I regretted. That starts with the fact that the majority of games is free to try anyway. And the "buy to own" games on the Apple app store frequently cost very little money, single digit amounts. Hey, maybe you don't like the game "Dawn of Crafting" I recommended. But as it costs only $3, it is unlikely you would deeply regret the purchase. A $10 game like Egglia in the app store is already relatively expensive.

As a customer and consumer of games, I feel as if I am living in golden times. I am not sure that this will hold forever, because as a hobby economist I feel as if there is an oversupply of games, fed by an oversupply of people willing to code games during long hours for very little money. I can't imagine that going on forever.

I remember in the middle of the 80's, a lot of cassette games for the Commodore 64 didn't even have screenshots on the sleeve. I only found out what it actually looked like on the screen when I came home and loaded it up.
That's what the internet should be all about: exchange of information and ideas.

Back in the day I regularly bought gaming magazines. One thing they almost never discussed was the user interface. I remember my biggest buyers remorse was Wing Commander Armada which was just unplayable for me but looked good in reviews on top of me loving other Wing Commander/Privateer games. I guess a couple user comments would have been helpful.
How about your lifetime subscription to LOTRO?
You must have a zillion Turbine Points by now. :-)
I tried to check, but apparently there is no way to log into just the website to see your Turbine points. I would need to install the game, which I didn't want to.

But yes, considering the price and and how little I ended up playing (mostly because I didn't like the combat), this is one of the purchases I regret.
Egglia seems to have got mostly good reviews, so maybe Steam wouldn't have helped. Of course maybe the Steam players would have had the same references as you. I guess when there are enough reviews you can focus on ones that mention the particular factors that interest you - in this case the depth of combat.
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