I once had the most foolproof plan to be a gamer and still save money: be a generation behind.
I'm sure many people already practice this in some way, just not extending to an entire generation. I've made it a (loose) rule to only purchase a console when the first substantial price drop has occurred. Not only will I be saving money this way, but by that time, any bugs in the console will have been fixed (right, Red Ring of Death?) and full library of games would be awaiting for my arrival.
To me, buying my 160GB PS3 when it first dropped to $300 and knowing full well that my brother bought it on launch day felt good. It said "Bravo, you conservative man - your self-restraint is only second to your gaming prowess!"
But now that these bundles are coming out for PS3s with 500GB/with a copy of a game/with a PS+ membership for around $250, Xbox 360 with Kinect for around the same price, and Wii Bundles for $130, and I think to myself - could I have waited so many years for the better bargain?
For many of us, that is a resounding no.
Being a gen behind is not a new concept by any means, and I'm sure many of us have thought of it at some point. I would stand there and laugh as I browse the new releases, while a kid tries his best salesman pitch to his mother about why he needs some bargain bin PS2 game. However, when you compare the prices, who is the smarter one? I'm shelling out $60 for a new game while they're spending $10-$20 on games that are new-to-them.
In the article "Why Nintendo Had to Kill the Wii," it's noted that from April to September of this year, 470,000 Wiis were sold in the world. There is an astounding number of people who are a generation behind. Is there a way to join his elite group? Of course, but for this gamer, it's a difficult one to join. While the single pro of such a plan is fantastic (i.e. money), the cons can be quite the mountain to overcome.
Spoilers are a biggie for the majority of people. Not only would you have to refrain from reading articles about the latest games (it would mean farewell to Kotaku), but spoilers have their way of popping out in conversations that are vaguely related. If there is an article about unfulfilling endings, someone will bring up Mass Effect 3 (a game I still haven't finished because I heard about the ending long before I even pondered buying ME2 on PSN for $20). And while I cling to the thought of finishing that journey one day, I know what's to come - like the PC gamer and his collection of Steam Summer Sale games, it just ain't gonna happen...
But then I think to myself, "I'm used to spoilers!" My older brother always found the time to play games more than me, and would just so happen to finish games while I was around. And while that would detract me from finishing certain games (I'm looking at you, Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy and Beyond Good and Evil), I still finished my share. After all, as we all learned from Journey (this is where I'd put SPOILERS, but can you really spoil that game?), it's not just about the destination, it's about the journey (okay, that was obvious, now read on). In fact, I've heard of some people (certainly not Whovians) would actually read the first and last chapter of books first - so you can know where you're starting and where you're headed.
So maybe spoilers couldn't spoil me from joining the movement...but what about...
Jim Gaffigan told a joke about seeing a movie for the first time that's been out for many years - you want to talk about it, but no one else will really be willing to partake of that conversation. Speaking of which, anyone want to talk about Brutal Legend? It was funny. Anyway, in order for someone to execute this plan, it seems necessary to cut yourself off from conversations about current gen games. Why peruse through Kotaku when the conversation of today is about the latest and greatest? Not only would you be risking spoilers, but you would be making yourself vulnerable to the hype. And hype can kill this plan.
Also worth mentioning is that online multiplayer would go downhill. Certain games would be exempt (I fully believe there are people still playing the original Counterstrike). And this kind of thing isn't even just a problem in being a generation behind, this is about being a couple of years behind. I just bought Bioshock 2, anyone else up for a few rounds of multiplayer? Does anyone want to talk about that game without bringing up Infinite, because I haven't played it yet (but guess what, I already know how it ends!) Fortunately for me, multiplayer isn't such a huge deal as most games I play don't need online. But for a first-person shooter fan, the lack of a community in staying behind can be a huge hit. If you're a single-player game kind of person, then things look all right for you.
So I guess I'd have to stop reading Kotaku for two reasons now...maybe I can live with that...but wait, what about...
GAME AVAILABILITY/EXPIRED CODES
It sounds weird, but being a generation behind can be a huge pain because of how expensive (certain) games can get. The word "vintage" really means "It may be old, but there are less around so that means it's expensive." Try to find Super Smash Bros. Melee on the Gamecube for a reasonable price and tell me I'm wrong. When Gamestop started to stop selling Gamecube games, I had the chance to buy Melee for $25, which I thought was too high. That price has since doubled everywhere else. Top games, no matter how cheap they can get, have a point in their lifespan of becoming more valuable due to scarcity. I hate you sometimes, economics! Of course, it's worth highlighting that this really only applies to certain kinds of games. Nintendo does a great job of keeping their prices the same (new or used) until it reaches "Selects" status.
I don't know about most people here, but I LOATHE used games, and that is essentially the bread and butter of a last gen gamer. I especially hate the ones without their original case and instruction manual. I recently purchased Street Fighter IV (see how late in the game I can get?) and it came in the generic Gamestop box. It makes me cringe just thinking about it...ugghhh... Should you make the jump, there probably will still be unopened new/old games around - if you're willing to risk having to pay a higher price.
Another issue however are download codes. Your shiny new/old game might promise all these extras within, but it is only available through a download code - which just so happen to be expired. No real solution to that aside from just buying the extras outright, but if you're a last gen gamer because of money issues, this is too much.
But of course, there's a compromise! While you are enjoying your last gen games, you can still be actively buying current gen games as soon as they hit the desirable amount (> $20). Still plenty of new games just sitting there and you don't have to sell your plasma for it because they didn't become vintage yet. This way, you're able to stock up for the next few years as you await your next console purchase. Spoiler alert: this was my undoing.
So what it really boils down to is the starting point. When I was a young gamer, I didn't really have a choice - my family and I immigrated into this family with little money, and I ended up living with my aunt and uncle. Any video game I played when I was 10 was what my cousins had around. During my teen years, around the time the PS2 came out, I had raised the $100 to purchase my very own console: the PS One. My cousins played Tekken Tag Tournament in their room, while I played Tekken 3 (Greatest Hits version, of course) in mine. And I loved it! But then again, I didn't feel like I was missing out because while I was personally stuck in last gen, the current gen was still available to me - I just wouldn't buy my own games for a system I didn't own.
So the real problem is the how. How does a person who is already intrenched in current gen games find an entrance into this new game plan? It's the same advice I would give to that Steam Sale addict: don't buy any more games until FINISH THE GAMES YOU ALREADY HAVE! How many games are really in your backlog? Off the top of my head, I have 3 for Wii and 15 for PS3 (thanks, PS+!). When I think of the time it would take to complete that library, and many other Wii and PS3 games I haven't experienced (Red Steel 2, Super Mario Galaxy 2, The Last of Us, Assassin's Creed, the other Bioshocks, Read Dead Redemption - this list can get really extensive) I probably would have enough to last near the end of the lifespans of Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U, if not halfway.
So my mind was made up. I can do it!
I've always told myself I could do it, in the sense that I've "done it before". But now I actually know that I can't. I tried to exercise buying a game before I owned the console. All that's left me with is a game in my possession that I literally CANNOT play - and that is torture. I do not have the self-control I thought I had.
Friday is payday. I'm gonna play the ever living out of Pokemon X.
Bottom line is that unless the money is completely unmanageable for you, there are just too many cons to logically choose to stay a generation behind. But for you 470,000 (perhaps) first-time owners of a brand-spanking new Wii, I wish I were one of you. Maybe next gen, eh?