When you are in the videogame press, as I was for about 400 years, you get kinda spoiled. I'm not even talking about the ridiculous wining and dining such as is happening with the "E3 Judges" this week, but really just the day-to-day mundane aspect of getting every single game free. I used to always remind myself, and other editors, to keep in mind that most people actually had to pay, and pay a LOT, for the games we were reviewing, and to never take that for granted--both when writing, and also just in appreciation for how good we had it.
Now that I'm a "civilian, " I'm like everyone I used to talk about. I have to pay for my games. This means I have to pick and choose what I'm going to buy, and when I'm going to buy it. Most of my press friends already have LA Noire, released to the public today, and have played a bunch of it, because they got it for free. Me? I don't have it yet, and I have to decide, like you, whether it's worth spending $60 for, or not.
The old me--and the part that still likes to stay current with everything--wanted to rush out and get it ASAP this morning. It's today's big deal, after all, and I want to chime in with my know-it-all perspective, dammit! But the old me didn't have to think about where this factored in with, ya know, every other fiscal commitment I have. Sixty dollars is a lot of freakin' money. iPhone games or Amazon MP3 deals are one thing. I can justify those impulse buys all the time. A full-price brand new console game is something else entirely.
And then when I really start thinking about it rationally, I remember the huge backlog of games I haven't finished yet--or even started. (Like Dead Space 2, still waiting for me, even though I "needed" that one Day 1 as well. ) My backlog, like many gamers, is ridiculous. I couldn't even tell you--especially because of all those free games the old me got--how many unfinished/unplayed games I have. 50? More? Plus, there's the fact that, at some point, there's going to be a price drop. Because there's always a price drop. I could easily, happily play all the games I haven't played yet (like "Bully," another Rockstar game!) for a long time and just wait for LA Noire to hit a more reasonable price point, at a time when I actually have the time to play it. Totally reasonable, right?
And yet--that DAY ONE impulse remains. You want to be part of the phenomenon, the zeitgeist. You think you have to play it because everyone else is. You get worked up and hyped up, and everyone who participates amps it up a little more, encouraging and validating your own "need" to have the game RIGHT NOW.
But time has told me that if I try to just resist that, I (and my bank account) won't regret it. That first wave of hype only lasts so long, and is usually followed either by an "err, wait, this isn't actually THAT great" buyer's remorse, or, more often, "this is pretty good but I have 1000 other things to do and games to play so maybe I'll put this down for awhile"--after which it gets neglected while the next bright new shiny DAY ONE game grabs everyone's attention, yet again.
That hype machine is, of course, what all the game companies want and need and count on. They NEED you to buy those DAY ONE games on DAY ONE. Their stockholders need you to, too. But, ya know, the games aren't going anywhere, and they'll just get cheaper. And now that I'm a civilian, this matters to me way more than the hype.