Six months in and won’t lie, it’s been hard. Portal 2 was the biggest the challenge. The trouble with the social networking features of the digital distribution platform Steam, is the system’s affective marketing. Each time a player on your friends list loads a game a notification pops up in the in the lower right hand corner of the screen telling you so. It’s a very panoptic experience. Each night for about 10 days after the launch of Portal 2, half a dozen notifications would urge me to simply move the cursor along to the Steam store tab and click the purchase button. After about two weeks, however, there was no one left playing the game, which suggested at $49AU Portal was reasonably good entertainment-per-dollar value compared to a trip to the cinema for two, but it wasn’t something that people were replaying or even making the most of the new multiplayer.
The best thing about not buying games is watching the cost of games that I do want to purchase drop. For example, in another six months, games like Fallout3 New Vegas will have dropped to less than half there price at launch. It doesn’t mean I haven’t spent any money on games. I’ve bought a couple of items in TF2, and I purchased Minecraft (a game I bought in October in 2010 and played extensively during my no buying challenge) as a gift for two others. I also purchased the DLC for Call of Duty: Black Ops while researching my chapter on FPS games. I’ve bought a number of games on the iPad from Australian developers but these too are aiding in my research on the Australian games industry, and cost between $2 and $6AU.
Even after this challenge, I won’t be buying games on launch day, going back to play games like Civilisation 5 is a much better experience after all the patching has sorted out the diplomacy and ironed out all the bugs. I have many other games in my Steam library that I haven’t played or haven’t finished, that I picked up on in Sale packs on Steam last year and I’ve been gifted a couple of games like Dirt2 and Terraria, that are high on my to-play list. So many games to play and never enough time.