Friday, September 25, 2009

Changing my game consumption habits

The way that I acquire games evolves over time, and more recently I switched to an almost exclusively online model of ordering.  For a long time, I picked everything up at retail.  Then I went through a phase where I ordered games online until I was put off by an incorrectly shipped game that missed my birthday.  Picking games up at the store is now becoming unattractive for several reasons.  For one, retailers aren't stocking many copies of games.  I have left empty handed on several occasions where a shipment was either late or undersupplied.  In addition, the price of gas continues to climb.  Besides the money wasted on gas and the time spent tracking down games, I am trying to be more environmentally conscious across all of my life activities.  My last main gripe with stores is that retailers don't discount games much anymore.  I remember buying PS2 games the week they came out for over 20 percent off.  These days, it seems like I am lucky to pay 5 bucks less than MSRP, which has also increased over last gen.

So what has changed?  For one, I started ordering more games through Amazon, which solves a lot of the problems I have with local stores.  Amazon generally marks games down a few percent, and I have been able to apply discounts on top of the reduced price.  I don't have to worry about whether or not something is in stock before I order and I only need to spend the time it takes to place the order in order to receive the goods.  While I don't get the game on the day it comes out, in most cases I don't have the time to start it anyway.  Ordering from Amazon means that there is no driving involved and it's also fun to receive and open packages, which is a nice side benefit.

Because I go through a fair amount of games, I also needed to find a way to pack new purchases into less space.  In addition to Amazon, I am migrating more of my collection over to digitally distributed games.  At the moment, I buy about 95 percent of my PC games through this method and I have no complaints or regrets about the lack of bulky boxes with flimsy manuals.  On consoles, I have been enjoying XBLA and PSN games for years, but I have yet to make the leap to things like "Games on Demand".  While I considered it more recently, I'm still not convinced that I will have the access I want to those games if another Xbox dies or if the next console doesn't have backwards compatibility and license transfers.

None of this is probably all that interesting of a shift to some people, as I'm sure many out there have been embracing digital for years.  For me it marks a big change because I actually enjoy the process of browsing a store and I like holding that physical product in my hands, especially if it is in a box with a lot of goodies.  In spite of that, I am putting a higher premium these days on my time and space as well as rethinking the impact of my consumption habits.  I'm hoping that this trend continues and that nothing  pushes me back to the brick and mortar method of shopping.  I'd also like to see more digital games incorporate some of the things I like about special edition boxed products (manuals, soundtracks, maps, artbooks, etc.), but I'm sure it will get there.  It's funny how many areas of life fatherhood makes you rethink.