Wednesday, November 15, 2023
The pork cycle and a return to AoW4
The pork cycle describes an economic phenomenon of cyclical fluctuations in supply in markets where production takes some time, e.g. livestock. When prices are high, more pigs are being bred, leading to oversupply and falling prices, which then leads to fewer pigs being bred, and so on. I would argue that we are in a pork cycle like supply high for video games right now. The pandemic led to higher demand for home entertainment, leading to an overproduction of video games. And while this is a market in which prices rarely fall if supply is high, the oversupply sure has led to games not being as well received this year. And in response a lack of sales has led to projects being abandoned, layoffs, and studio closures. I'm not really afraid that there will be a lack of videogames in 2025, but I sure think that there will be fewer major releases that year.
While there were many great games in 2023 that I bought and played, the list of games I am waiting for is empty, except for Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader. There is a good chance that I will succumb to the hype and buy that one on release (December 7); which probably is a bad idea, because it is a game from Owlcat Games. Owlcat games patches their games *a lot*. Wrath of the Righteous had over 150 patches since release. And while that level of support is commendable, I made the error of playing Wrath of the Righteous on release, and then regretted not having waited let's say a year for patch 2.0, when this was a much more rounded experience with fewer bugs.
Between patches and DLCs, a lot of games do get better over time. So the game that I am currently playing is one I bought earlier this year: Age of Wonders 4. I finally bought the expansion pass for 40 €, although one might argue that the DLCs don't really contain all that much content. But even if you don't pay, each DLC comes with a free patch. And the patches have not only been fixing bugs, but also much improved on some game systems. Especially features that felt unfinished and half-baked on release, like naval combat, have been much improved. The new content in the DLCs is more of the "nice to have" category, but I did enjoy a game playing as a dragon lord.
My video game spending is about the equivalent of one triple-A game per month, and I am fortunate that I can easily afford that. The problem with a pork cycle oversupply of video games is time. I finished neither Hogwart's Legacy nor Baldur's Gate 3 nor Lamplighter's League. And me coming back to AoW4 is in part because I felt I hadn't played that one "enough" either, whatever "enough" is. Still, there were several games which I played through to the end: Tears of the Kingdom, Return to Moria, Jagged Alliance 3, Fae Farm, and a few smaller games, like Pentiment. I also played several games which I plan to get back to, as they are good to play occasionally, like Against the Storm or Hexarchy. Still, it feels as if I never have enough time for all the games, in spite of being retired and having more time than most. So, if I am right and the flood of new game releases will slow down over the next year, I'm okay with that.