Video games. Whenever a new one comes out there’s always this rush to pick it up as soon as possible. After all, you don’t want to miss out on the conversation and hype surrounding its release. Or do you? Unless you’re a full-time YouTuber or Twitch streamer, there’s little purpose whatsoever to getting a video game the instant it arrives in stores (digital or otherwise).
In fact, there’s not just one, but several strong arguments against picking up newly released games. Chances are, the game’s release has been marked by no small amount of hype — to the point where both its positive and negative qualities are grossly exaggerated. It can feel like quite a rip off when you get a game everyone’s talking about only to hear people speaking badly of it — to say that it ruins the experience is no exaggeration.
Unlike movies, which you can only see for about a period of two weeks when they hit the theatre, a video game costs roughly five times as much as a movie ticket and new releases are going to be buggy, to boot. Imagine watching a movie only to have it glitch through a quarter of the way through, forcing you to pause your viewing and come back another day to complete it. That’s the gaming nutshell in an experience — and Cats, which was actually patched following its initial debut. Thanks to live updates and day one patches, every game is almost guaranteed to have problems upon release.
So why wait? Firstly, unless you’re streaming the game for an audience, there’s a chance that you’ve got a lot of other things on your plate to get through. Secondly, it’s always best to wait for patches and updates to play the game the way the designers intended. And if you’re on the PC, waiting bears some benefits: the modding community (if there is one) can enhance the base experience, especially with Bethesda Games titles like Skyrim and Fallout.
Furthermore, waiting means you won’t have to pay full price for the game. Not only are there frequent discounts on the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live and Steam, there’s also the release of downloadable content and expansion packs that usually come bundled in with the base game as part of a package deal or even as a “Game of the Year” re-release, as with titles like The Witcher 3 and Borderlands.
Missing the hype has its advantages, too. It means not getting suckered into a full-priced multiplayer-only game like Battlefield 5 only to find that the community’s left for greener pastures a month later. Good games, after all, have a much longer lifespan than the myriad others that fail just weeks after release. See: Destiny 2, which found a new lease on life following Bungie’s independence from its publisher, Activision, and the everlasting World of Warcraft.
Personally, I regret picking up Red Dead Redemption 2 on the PC when it was released. Not only could I not get it to launch because the servers had blocked the entire Asia-Pacific region from accessing the game in the few days—it was also incredibly unoptimised and prone to crashes once I did manage to get it to run. Only recent patches made the game as playable as its developers intended. Had I waited a couple of months, I’d have been able to pick it up on sale and used the savings for some other discounted game.
Play the long game, and you’ll be able to pick up just about every game you missed out on for the entire year during a Christmas sale for a fraction of the price.