Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The rising cost of gaming makes me a sad panda

Remember when you were a kid and you had to rely on your birthday/Christmas to get a game for your shiny new system? I do. I played through Metal Gear Solid fifteen times before I finally turned the old PSX off on that title; not just because it was a great game, but because that's how long it took me to finally save up enough allowance to get Legend of Dragoon.

Though I'm older and make my own money now, my gaming experience is still being limited by the cost of admission. At $250, the Wii could be considered an impulse buy in the current generation. As for the other two gaming giants, spending at least $300-$400 on a core system, adding in the cost of an extra controller, cables and a couple games, and you're dancing merrily near the fine line of spending a grand in a single shopping day. Not to mention the ginormous TV and sound system necessary to fully enjoy these systems; but that's a topic for another day.

Why do I write this post? Mainly to complain about how awesome November is. Yes, you heard me, I'm complaining about the number of quality titles hitting our shores this holiday season. We've got Mario Galaxy, Orange Box, Halo 3, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, Call of Duty 4 and more on the console front with titles like Phantom Hourglass, Silent Hill and Castlevania drawing our hard-earned cash on the portable side of the spectrum.
There is, quite simply, far too many quality titles coming out during the holiday window when funds are already drawn tight due to Thanksgiving trips and Christmas shopping. I'm allowing myself one console title this November; Uncharted: Drakes Fortune. The demo was a blast and pretty unique, so it gets my 60 bucks this month. Not that I don't want all those other titles, just that I can't afford them.

My point is this: why do developers gun so heavily for the holiday window? Their reasoning is that this is the time when most people do their shopping for Christmas. But that logic is flawed. With so many great titles coming out, nobody who earns their own honest living is going to be able to afford more than a few titles over the next couple months. With so much competition piled on, there's nothing to guarantee YOUR title will be the one finding its way into little Jimmy's stocking.

With the infamous summer drought coming up, why not release then? By May, gamers will be starving for something to keep their consoles busy and, with less AAA titles to duke it out with, even a remotely entertaining game stands to rake in the profits.
In short, I think I know what will fill the vast majority of my Christmas list this year. If nothing else, maybe I can buy this November's games next June, July and August to help pass the time until the next holiday cram-fest.

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