It’s that time of year again! Gaben assaults our wallets with irresistible deals and we fill up our game libraries with titles we earnestly promise to play “someday”. It’s a mad frenzy of shopping and spending and gifting and making memes about how bad this is for our wallets.
Except… is it?
The whole “Gaben took all my money” jokes vanished a couple of years ago. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that it’s been about two years since my last madcap spending spree on Steam. It’s not that the deals are bad, it’s just that I don’t feel like I need any more games. I’ve got a nice backlog of titles to draw from and there’s plenty of new releases to keep me busy, so I don’t feel compelled to stockpile tons of games just because they’re cheap.
For me, the market seems to have returned to some sort of equilibrium. And going by the conversations I hear, this seems to be the case for a lot of other people.
I can point to three factors:
- Low-end prices have gone up. The asking price for AAA and mid-range titles has held steady at $30 – $60, but the little indie titles are no longer given away for pennies like they were a few years ago. A game that was a sure thing a 50¢ is now up to $3, and the games that used to be $3 are now in the $10-$15 range. The low-end prices feel more in line with what the larger games are doing.
- I have plenty of games. I don’t need more. All of my purchases in the last year have been based on gameplay rather than price. If you want me to open my wallet, you need to offer me novel gameplay I can’t get from one of the hundreds of games already in my library.
- Shopping isn’t as fun as it used to be. I think there are more quality titles than ever before, but the number of garbage shovelware titles have gone up even faster. On top of this, the sorting tools seem to be getting worse.
That last one seems to be a big problem for me. I know a lot of this ties back into the complaints I made about the Steam storefront I made a year ago. I used to enjoy sifting for interesting games, but now it feels exactly like looking for “new content” on YouTube. THE ALGORITHM has a few dozen things it wants to show me, and if I’m not interested in those then it has no idea what to do.
I tried browsing the “RPG” category and among Steam’s top suggestions were DOTA 2 (a MOBA) a couple of card games (CCG is a different genre) Stardew Valley (management sim) Assassins Creed Origins (if this is an RPG then 95% of all games are RPGs) Terraria (this sidescrolling sandbox genre needs a name of its own) and Tom Clancy’s The Division. I KNOW there are hundreds of games where you level up, meet characters, and experience a story, but they’re lost in a sea of games that have none of those elements. And if I switch from the “RPG” genre to “action”, I’ll still see a lot of these same titles show up. Terraria is popular so I guess THE ALGORITHM is just convinced I want it, no matter what I’m actually looking forIgnoring the fact that I ALREADY OWN IT, THANKS. SHOW ME SOMETHING ELSE..
Not only is the signal-to-noise ratio terrible, but your ability to zero in on a particular signal is also limited.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.
How’s your search for new titles going? Has the summer sale lost its charm for you? Has your library stopped growing? If you’ve stopped buying, what’s keeping you away?
And if you ARE still buying… have any non-Terraria suggestions?
 Ignoring the fact that I ALREADY OWN IT, THANKS. SHOW ME SOMETHING ELSE.
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