Tobold's Blog
Friday, December 09, 2022
Going Grey

If you read any blog post of mine over the last 20 years that was talking about me playing a game, I almost always bought that game. There is only a tiny number of games that I, as an early version of "influencer" :), got a free review copy of; and in all of those cases I disclosed that fact. I played games which I didn't so much individually buy, but got as a part of a Humble Bundle or XBox Game Pass for PC subscription. But I don't think I ever pirated a game. Piracy seems to get a lot less media attention these days, but I guess it is still around. I was never a fan. And fortunately I had a good job, and could afford to buy the games I wanted to play, thus supporting the developers.

Now with retirement my financial situation has changed. For the large majority of people, retirement monthly income is significantly lower than work monthly income. The idea is to build up some retirement savings while you work, and draw them down during retirement. Exact planning of that is absolutely impossible, because you don't even know how long your retirement will last. If you compare the average retirement age with the average life expectancy, you get an average retirement of around 2 decades. But in reality that is plus or minus 100%, you could die just after retiring, or you could live to get 100 years old. You also don't know how you savings investment portfolio will perform over time, nor whether your financial needs will suddenly go up due to increased health care needs. The sensible thing to do after starting retirement is to review your spending habits, and to cut cost where possible, as you don't know how long your money will need to last, even if you have a decent amount of savings.

But as I still dislike piracy, I am going for a compromise: I will reduce my game spending by using sites like GG, and buy grey market game keys instead of giving my money to Steam directly. I did some research, and it turns out that game key resellers aren't any more dodgy than other reselling services, like Amazon Marketplace, or eBay. Which is to say that you still need to be careful if you see an offer that seems too good to be true, but a large percentage of resales is actually legit. Thus the "grey" in grey market, it isn't a "black" market. There is a risk of buying something that has been bought with a stolen credit card, but that risk exists in various reseller markets.

In many cases, a grey market key comes from the game company itself having tried to optimize sales by selling the same software to different people at different prices. Thus in a way, me thinking of myself as having a lower income and buying that software at a lower price is working as intended. Even the fact that the origin of grey market keys is often obscure is working as intended, as it minimizes consumer surplus. Game companies don't want you to know that they are selling their game to other people for less money. I still believe that game developers need to eat and pay rent. Which would probably prompt me to pay full Steam price for a game like Dwarf Fortress, where I think that my money actually goes to a developer, and not to a big company. But indie developers don't usually try complicated pricing to market strategies, so indie games aren't as heavily discounted on key reseller sites.

So, since Planetfall and Disciples: Liberation, if you read me writing about a game on this blog in the future, you can assume that I bought it via a grey market key reseller. Unless I mention that you can get the game as part of a subscription, of course.

First; grats on retirement! Starting my own blog 15ish years ago and your blog is still one of the first ones that blogger ever recommended; feels like yesterday. For me personally I control game spending by simply not playing many games and thus I don't feel terrible buying a battle pass or dropping some money on skins. Fortunately MMOs help with that. Then throw in the sheer number of free games out there such as Epic or Twitch giving them out like candy and other than a few cases I rarely have to spend money to get a new experience to scratch an itch.

I look forward to my retirement, still a few years off but I can almost taste it!
Epic Games still has their weekly free games if you don't already know about it. Not piracy if they are offered for free! xD
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