My changing buying habits

As this year’s E3 is underway with loads of new videogames being announced I’ve recently thought that during the current generation I rarely buy videogames at release. I’ve written about this before but I wanted to do some further investigation to see if I could actually prove some of this.

Indeed since creating this website I had identified 14 upcoming games that I was most interested about in the 2018 and 2019 release schedules. And of those 9 have since been released. However I have only purchased two of those games; Marvel’s Spiderman and The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr. Crucially only the latter was actually purchased at release.

So I then looked into how many games were purchased by myself before or on the release date over the last four years. I found the following list of games.

  • Far Cry 5 Gold, Mar 2018
  • Monster Hunter World, Jan 2018
  • Destiny 2 Digital Deluxe, Sept 2017
  • Zelda Breath of Wild, Mar 2017
  • Forza Horizon 3 Ultimate Edition, Sept 2016 (2 days after release)
  • Destiny: Rise of Iron, Sept 2016
  • Doom, May 2016
  • Trackmania Turbo, Mar 2016 (6 days after release)
  • The Division Gold, Mar 2016
  • Fallout 4, Nov 2015
  • 6 MMO Expansions – all pre-ordered:
    • The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind (2017)
    • The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset (2018)
    • The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr (2019)
    • WoW: Legion (2016)
    • WoW: Battle for Azeroth (2018)
    • Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire (2017)

Findings

It means I have purchased a total of 10 videogames and 6 MMO expansions over the last 4 years at release.

  • An average of 4 videogames per year.
  • Only one purchased in 2019 (The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr).
  • 4 PC releases were all purchased from a reseller with fairly hefty discounts (GreenManGaming & Humble).
  • Only one purchase was physical (Wii U).

Even new consoles didn’t result in buying new games. With the purchase of an Xbox One X (Feb 2018) and PlayStation 4 Pro (May 2017) I didn’t buy any new games. Either playing my existing library or picking up games in sales. This seem different to previous hardware like my Wii U (2014 – 2017), launch PlayStation 4 (3 games) and original Xbox One (1 game) amongst others.

The last generation for comparison

Now unfortunately I don’t have numbers for the last generation of consoles, or before 2015 as it would take an immense number of hours to compile. However I know that I purchased large numbers of games at release – every Halo, Little Big Planet, All Forza’s, Super Mario Galaxy 1/2, Battlefield Bad Company 2, Battlefield 1943/3 etc. And this list would be massive. Particularly as the number of games I owned on Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360 was over 200 at one point. On disc alone. And that is not including formats like Nintendo 3DS or Wii U where I also purchased numerous games as they released.

Indeed during the last generation many more games were cheaper and with much less monetisation. Buying games was the only way to get new games to play. Free-to-play or subscriptions hadn’t really landed yet. Also live services hadn’t happened meaning you tended to play a game and then move on to the next. Therefore I suspect games purchased at launch would probably average 15 to 30 a year. Maybe more.

So therefore it is probably undeniable that over the last few years I am buying less games at release and therefore less at full RRP. A downward trend over previous years before.

Conclusion

Of course some of this slowdown in buying games at release could be more about myself, i.e. getting older or being a parent. Or indeed having a huge backlog of games to play. However there are some clear patterns which definitely fall in line with the wider trends within video gaming.

  • I don’t shop at Retail anymore. Even when I buy physical games they are from online retailers.
  • I’ve fully embraced Digital on all formats.
  • There is a limit to what I will spent on single games. As the price gets lower then I am more inclined to take a punt on a new game. And therefore if I see something approaching or over £100 I’ll likely not bother as I worry about missing out on something with the ‘standard’ version.
  • Although I will spend more on a Live Service. Particularly those that are around for years, such as World of Warcraft or The Elder Scrolls Online.
  • Easier access to more games. With Game Pass, Games with Gold or PlayStation Plus I’ve got loads of games to play.
  • I’m not trading in games and therefore buying less. Something I would do a lot during the last generation. I think this is a major reason for declining retail UK sales figures tracked through GfK Chart Track.
  • I don’t ever pay full price for PC games outside of MMO expansions.
  • Live Services videogames are making me think twice before buying.
  • I have spent money on Free-2-play games. F2p and other business models are clearly disrupting the market.

So there we go. The short of it, is that I can be reasonably certain I am buying less games at release or at full price. However with Games as a Service and Live Services probably spending more but on fewer games.

Although I am certainly still buying more games though. But these are mostly digitally, often with big discounts after they have been out a while. And I don’t think that is a bad purchasing habit. Picking up the games cheaper, after bugs have been ironed out and business models become clearer (i.e. microtransactions introduce a month after release). It also feels a bit less bad if it takes longer to start playing a game. But it means that I may lose interest and desire to buy a game in the long-run. Something I have experienced recently with The Division 2.

Perhaps what is more interesting is whether this is the same for many other people and whether there are significant numbers who are all buying less games, but spending more on those we do play. Unfortunately that is not a question I can answer beyond my own spending habits.

Far Cry 5 Review

Far Cry 5 is a game I have mixed feelings about. I’ve had it since release in March 2018, but decided to only recently go back and play the campaign some more. Very much a Far Cry game, which largely re-treads the same established formula. However I personally felt this is a game which is held back from greatness by bad design decisions. Most notable is just how busy the world is which feels completely at odds with it’s fictional setting in the US state of Montana. Indeed step out anywhere near a road in this game and it is like a warzone. But no matter where in the world you are enemies attack constantly and it can break any immersion with the game.

I have played many of the Far Cry games and always had some issue that stops me really enjoying or playing them. With the second game I couldn’t get over the checkpoints that would be repopulated with enemies even after you had just cleared them out. Although I don’t think Far Cry 5 makes any mistake as bad as that although it feels largely a retread of the gameplay of the third game to me.

The game itself is technically gorgeous. On the Xbox One X it runs at native 4K and a really solid 30fps. Apart from the early map screen tearing bug (long since fixed by an update) I simply didn’t run into any performance issues with the framerate or the game. Textures and draw distances are stunning. The vegetation and ground clutter is heavily populated and the flame effects as fire spreads on the ground are very realistic. It is certainly one of the best looking games I’ve played this generation. Background music changed to suit on screen action and the game has a neat use of different styles or musical genres. Sound effects too, but audio as a whole is very well done.

Far Cry 5 screenshot

I think the setting of the game is wonderful. The choice of having a game set in a US state was a good one. Indeed the story and the opening of the game feels very solid. It’s not the first Far Cry game to open strongly and this was as memorable as some of the others for me (particularly Far Cry 3). The game doesn’t offer up much diversity in the environment although the verticality in this game world is astounding. There were a couple of times when it almost felt like a vertigo inducing moment.

After the opening tutorial area you are free to go where you want and the game world is split into three distinct regions where you need to complete the story within. I will say the way story missions worked in this game were an annoyance. At certain points when a trigger point is reached the game will interrupt whatever you are doing to either playout a cut scene or force a linear mission on you. After the first time this happens you soon realise it is by design. All of that being said there is loads to do in the world and it is very easy to get lost collecting things, or doing a side activities like fishing or simply exploring. The game requires you to explore to help unlock skills point (called perks) or find new quests. It felt like there was a large amount of side quests to do which isn’t required to complete the main story.

So the game looks stunning, runs really well, has a great opening and fairly interesting story and lots to do. What isn’t there to like? Well there are a few things in my opinion. Firstly as mentioned the sheer number of enemies feels flawed. If it’s not the aforementioned warzones of the roads, it’s the over populated enemies all over the game world. Very often enemies spawn right in front of your eyes or just after a mission area has been cleared. And wildlife in this game is deadly. A few times I died to deadly, super high jumping wolverines that felt more like the killer rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

And there is the slowness of earning currency in-game. You earn money from quest rewards, finding it or looting from downed enemies. The money is used for buying weapons, vehicles or parts and unlocking weapons as well as ammo refills. You can also customise your character, weapons or vehicles. It never felt like I was drowning in money and until the late game there is an ongoing slightly nagging feeling of not having enough money if you want to unlock new weapons and vehicles. Despite doing a fair amount of side activities there are still many items I haven’t unlocked after 30 hours. Of course you can simply purchase silver bars (premium currency) with real world money to unlock items quicker. You can also find silver bars in the open world however I barely found any on my play through.

I’ve read a number of times that the microtransactions can be ignored or don’t impact Far Cry 5 in anyway. Your own view will probably depend on how you feel about them but it is hard not to say the design of the game hasn’t been influenced. These microtransactions are really meant to capture the more casual player that is only playing the game for a few hours. Certainly they aren’t egregious or manipulative like lootboxes however the presence of them still feels scummy. Most big triple AAA releases include microtransactions so Far Cry 5 isn’t doing anything that different but that doesn’t make them right. I can’t see any valid reason for them to be in this game which for most people will be an offline single player game. And a full price premium game with a gold version and season pass already.

Looting enemies was really fiddly. You have to hover the cursor over the enemy body and press X (or square on PS4) but it is very easy to accidentally pick up enemies weapons instead. I lost track of the number of times I would accidently swap out my favourite weapon instead of looting and then have to reset my loadout when back at a base. The game would have been so much better with an auto looting feature, in the same way it does for ammo.

There is a challenge system that can help unlock perks to help improve your character, and indeed as you do so it definitely helps increase your enjoyment as things like carrying more ammo, or additional options like parachutes and wingsuits add more variety to the gameplay. There are also friendly NPCs who can unlock in the game and add to your team to help with gun fights.

Away from the main campaign the game also includes an online arcade mode which is user creation tool and includes a mix of single player and multiplayer levels that have been created and uploaded. I barely scratched the surface of this (or the DLC) but thought this was a neat addition to the game. Some of these are available in Co-Op as well, like the main story mode.

Overall I had some fun with Far Cry 5, however the slowness of earning in-game currency, the fiddly control system, extremely high numbers of enemies respawning really held back the game for me. I’ve got to the 30-hour mark and completed two thirds of the game but I’m struggling to find a reason to play it through to the campaign’s end. When the game got into a flow of missions there was a very enjoyable experience. And it was very easy to lose myself and go exploring. And that’s why it so frustrating to have the quiet moments continually interrupted with gunfire or killer wildlife. I can see why some people really enjoy this series but for me some of the low moments with Far Cry 5 were as exaggerated as some of the high moments. A shame as it meant the game was just OK rather than being anything truly special. In other words a reasonably flawed game, albeit a visually pretty one.

Played on the Xbox One X.

May 2019 Backlog Update

Warmer weather approaching as another month passes by. I’ve made a lot of progress at the start of the month clearing games but that has slowed down over the last few weeks. However a real sense of clearing some long standing games from my current playing list. Also a few high profile games added to my collection.

New game pickups

  • Divinity Original Sin 2 (Xbox One)
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

I made a couple of pickups in the last of the Easter Sales. Namely Divinity Original Sin 2 but this time on Xbox One. In addition I added one of 2018 PlayStation exclusives to my collection, Marvel’s Spider-Man. And I decided to take a punt on Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection as it was only £12.99 for the original trilogy. I played the first Uncharted years ago on PlayStation 3 but never got around to the second or third games. These seems a good price to have a go at the PS4 remasters. I might add Uncharted 4 or Uncharted: The Lost Legacy if I enjoy these enough.

At the time of writing there is a Xbox Live Backwards Compatibility sale with a few Xbox 360 games that I would like to pick up and therefore will probably be on next months new pickups.

Been playing (Grouvee)

  • The Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)
  • Ashen (Xbox One)
  • We Happy Few (Xbox One)
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PS4)
  • Far Cry 5 (Xbox)

It has been a busy month. I finally beat Wolfenstein: The New Order and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (I really enjoyed this). In addition I played a couple of Xbox Game Pass games; Ashen and We Happy Few. This was the first time I played the latter. Also made played quite a bit of Far Cry 5. The 5th year anniversary event was something that I spent time in The Elder Scrolls Online during the early part of the month.

Completed/Abandoned/Shelved

  • Completed: Wolfenstein: The New Order and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.
  • Abandoned: Ashen and We Happy Few.
  • Shelved: Far Cry 5 and Borderlands: The Handsome Collection

I written about We Happy Few already, however not Ashen. It can probably can be described as a ‘Souls-lite‘. You can have an AI companion but this was broken for me as summoning didn’t seem to work even with multiplayer switched off. I’m not a huge Dark Souls fan, but with this fairly unique feature not working and other games to play I decided to move on.

Borderlands 2 is a game I’ve played a load on PC so really the The Handsome Collection was a cheap chance to try The Pre-Sequel! for the first time. I may return to this later but don’t feel too much pressure to play. I will review Far Cry 5 although I’ve just got to a point where I am really bored with the game so going to park for now.

So 2 games completed, 2 abandoned and 2 shelved. I did also move a few games around on Grouvee (such as Rocket League etc.). But overall some nice progress made with the backlog.

Website updates

I removed the Main page which didn’t really serve a purpose but added to the About page. I plan to add a new page to the website shortly.

Up next

I currently only have 2 games on my playing list and therefore there’s a real opportunity to start playing some new games. That said I suspect I might go back to Mass Effect 3 which has long been on my backlog and needs to be cleared.

March 2019 Update

Incredible that the year is nearly three months old already. I have been playing with two new toys and have some more incoming. The return of a very old classic joystick design and putting a budget gaming headset through its paces. Game wise not really much in the way of buying anything new. Anthem and The Division 2 beta/demos basically put me off both games but for different reasons. Which is good in a way as it has allowed me to keep playing some existing games.

New game pickups

  • The Elder Scrolls Online 90 day subscription
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr Digital Collector’s Edition Upgrade

As already mentioned on this site I also purchased (and written my thoughts) on the:

For the second month running I’ve spend more on accessories than actual games. Although getting into The Elder Scrolls Online again has meant I’ve pre-ordered the new Elsweyr chapter for the game. I very rarely pre-order these days but this is relatively safe purchase given the state of the game.

Been playing (Grouvee)

  • Far Cry 5 (Xbox One)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)
  • The Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PS4)
  • Crackdown 3 (Xbox One)

Used Far Cry 5 as a test for my new headphones but ended up playing the game again (a flawed game, but probably my favourite Far Cry to date). I’ve also continued with my Wolfenstein: The New Order playthrough and started playing the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider following playing the game on Xbox 360 at a family catch-up. And trying out Crackdown 3.

However most of my time has been spent in Tamriel via The Elder Scrolls Online and getting my main character to CP160+ (i.e. endgame).

Completed, Abandoned & Shelved

2 games Shelved; Overwatch and Rocket League as I’m not really playing either but will likely return to at some point.

So at the quarter stage, that’s the following video games:

  • 6 Completed
  • 2 Shelved
  • 17 Games Played, of which 9 are NEW games

Up next

Continue to try and complete Wolfenstein: The New Order, a game that has been on my playing list for far too long. And it would be nice to experience Abzu again. Beyond that I’ll probably fall into a pattern of playing some more The Elder Scroll Online.