It’s never a good idea to purchase a game on the day of its release. It’s almost always a waste of money, especially if you have an existing backlog to go through (and let’s not kid ourselves—you do!) before you’ll even have an opportunity to play whatever it is you’re buying.
Being the first to play a new game is a selling point in itself, but unless you’ve a lot of free time, there’s a good chance that the game’s just going to sit on your Steam library for awhile.
Buying a game several months after its release, or waiting for a sale, is a good way to get it at half the price and have more than enough money to go around for something else. Yet even so, there are games that you just want to play right off the bat, and those that you’ll never in a million years consider playing because they are simply of little interest to you.
With that in mind, here are five ways that game publishers trick you into buying games you don’t want to play right away—or ever.
#5 The game comes with exclusive DLCs if you pre-order.
You’ve made your mind up not to purchase the game on day one, but GameStop comes along and announces that anyone preordering the game will receive an “exclusive” set of DLCs and items that won’t be available at any time else. While there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to eventually acquire the exclusive bonuses after release (see: Assassin’s Creed 3’s Hidden Secrets DLC pack) there’s a slim chance that the items are every bit as exclusive as the retailer says they are (see: Halo 4).
Granted, it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever to your overall experience of the game, but having an empty slot where content should be feels like you’re missing out on something that you’d otherwise be able to experience.
#4 You get TF2 items and hats in ‘Genuine’ quality.
Don’t care for Hitman: Absolution? Well, that’s too bad, because if you don’t get it, you’re going to miss out on that fancy little Hitman-themed penguin for Team Fortress 2. And you do play Team Fortress 2 a heckuva lot, don’t you? Couldn’t you just buy the items from the MannCo Store? Of course you could, but they wouldn’t come in green ‘genuine’ quality text.
Why should that even matter? It shouldn’t, but Valve’s clever study of human psychology would indicate that we get some dopamine rush out of bling, and bling in TF2 just so happens to come in the form of green text.
#3 A free “upgrade” to the so-called “Deluxe Edition”.
Games these days often come in two versions: Standard and Deluxe. You can buy both right off the bat upon the game’s release, and the publishers often hint that the Deluxe edition may be issued in limited form in spite of the fact that the whole shebang is digital and should thus be unlimited.
Whatever the case may be, if you don’t buy the game on day one, publishers will use the Deluxe Edition as an incentive for newcomers to pick the game up by putting it on sale at the same price as the regular version without actually lowering the price of the regular version of the game. It goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyway) that it can be difficult to pass up on such a fabulous opportunity to pay less for the deluxe edition of a game that others paid the full price for. Not only do you get to feel superior to anyone who bought the deluxe edition on day one, you also receive all the bonuses they felt entitled to because you were simply clever enough to wait it out.
Never mind the fact that you’ll never have time to play the game anyway.
#2 “Game of the Year” Editions.
This edition of the game typically contains all the DLCs that early buyers shelled out for in the year before. It’s a steal, but you still don’t need to buy it on day one of its release because it’s guaranteed to go on sale some months after.
But if you’re anything like me, that GOTY edition of Fallout 3—which I’ve already played but bought anyway ‘because it has everything!’—is just going to sit on your Steam shelf for as long as new games keep coming out.
#1 Steam Sales.
Steam sales are by far the most effective way publishers and retailers get you to purchase games you don’t want. While Steam has had a monopoly on the sales for a few years, online retailers like Green Man Gaming and Amazon have upped the ante by beating Steam’s own sale prices with games that function perfectly well on Steam.
Their wiles aside, it’s hard to pass up a 75% discount on a game you’ll never even play, because you just like seeing it in your Steam library in case you ever find time away from Black Ops 2 or whatever it is you’re playing to try something different. You’ll play it for two hours—tops. Besides, you’ll tell yourself that you’ll feel like a schmuck for not picking the game up when it was on sale if and when the urge to play it ever comes around.
It’s a lose-lose proposition, because you’re going to feel like a sucker for buying the game anyway, since you’ll never actually play it.