The Patience of Patient Gaming...
I am what is called a 'Patient Gamer.' The title is fairly self-explanatory: one who games, that is patient. But the patient aspect isn't regarding the actual time spent in-game, but rather how one approaches the market and the industry as a whole.
These days it is very common for everyone to want instant access to the next best, new thing. We have people waiting in lines for hours or even days to get the next generation phone/camera/tablet/contraception/flotation device. No one is ever satisfied with what they got, and I have been just as guilty.
For me, it was back in 2012 when I stood outside my local GameStop (#GME TO THE MOON BABY!) with all my fellow nerds waiting for the Diablo 3 Collector's Edition I preordered (more on preordering in another blog) to be released. Once midnight rolled around, I got my poster and fancy boxset and rushed home with a huge smile on my face as my gaming crew waited online for me to install and go.
Needless to say, that smile turned into a huge frown as we discovered the game was not anything close to what a successor of Diablo II should have been, not to mention the massive bugs that prevented all of us from logging in and playing. Overall, the entire experience was a huge letdown and we stopped playing D3 in less than a month.
So that was it for me. That was the last time I ever preordered a game or bought one on release. Since then, I had taken on the embodiment of the 'patient gamer.'
Now what is a patient gamer, you ask? A patient gamer is one who is an avid gamer that simply waits roughly 6+ months after a game's release before purchasing it. Usually we wait for a sale or, in my personal preference, for the game to come out with some sort of Game of the Year edition that has all the DLCs and/or expansions included. This has a plethora of advantages with very few disadvantages, and those disadvantages are fairly dependent on the genre of the title. So let's take a more detailed look into what patient gaming is.
For starters, the biggest advantage patient gaming has is the effect on the industry. When people simply wait after a game's release, they can go into the purchase with a cool head and open mind after reading up on any media/critiques about the product. This allows for wiser purchasing decisions. Going back to my example, if I would have simply waited, I would have learned that Diablo 3 had very little in common with its predecessors and had an awful lot of issues with the overall design philosophy. And I most likely would not have purchased it.
How does this mindset effect the industry? Well, it allows us, the customer, to vote with our wallet. If we take the time to step back out of the hype bubble and really look at the game with a critical eye, then we can let the company know that we will not be willing to put up with poor releases. This is great for the industry as a whole because it forces the studios to listen and come out with better products, otherwise no one is going to buy them and they'll go under. And it's also good for the studios because if they continuously create great products, then they will continue making tons of money because gamers will always be willing to pay for good games. Unfortunately, gamers are not great at this. We tend to jump into the hype pool and swim in its waters with glee as the pool begins to drain with each bug and poor game mechanic discovered, leaving us splashing around in a shallow puddle at the bottom of this empty concrete bowl.
Another advantage of patient gaming is financial. Waiting 6+ months for a game to come out allows the customer to purchase it when it's on sale or in a special edition that may include all the DLCs and expansions for the same price it was on release. This is what I tend to do and it's great. I can basically double my library for the same cost if I were to buy the games on release. There's also the advantage of having the game patched and bug-fixed by that time.
Waiting for later purchases also grant the customer the ability to research a bit and see if the game is actually worth playing. By the time a few months after release rolls around, there is a plethora of content online critiquing the game or reviewing it or whatever. Let me give another anecdotal example. Mass Effect: Andromeda. I am a huge Mass Effect fan. So when Andromeda came out I was very curious how it would end up. And it got HAMMERED by the fans. YouTube video after YouTube video and blog after blog of how its animations were horrible, the writing was bad, the graphical fidelity lacking, the characters subpar, etc. etc.
So, I waited. Roughly a year after its release, I decided to pick it up and give it a go when it was on sale for 75% off. Although it was not nearly on par with the original trilogy (writing and characters were weak, story was weak, enemy and alien types were weak or simply missing), I still had a thoroughly good time playing it. In fact, I did four complete playthroughs with each 'personality' type. I had a blast. The combat is still the best in the series in my opinion; however, I understand why people hated it. But here's the thing, with the exception of the bad writing/characters, virtually all the other problems were addressed and fixed. I didn't have any graphical bugs or animation problems, there were no issues with clipping through terrain or getting stuck, the technical issues had been addressed, etc. The game ran fine and I felt like my heavily discounted purchase was worthwhile.
This is the overall experience you get as a patient gamer. By the time you reach the game, it's patched, fixed and generally a far better experience than if you were to buy it on release. And if the game is never truly fixed, then as a patient gamer you're privy to that information and you simply don't buy: voting with your wallet. It's a win-win!
That said, there can be some downsides to patient gaming. For starters, if you are looking to get into a competitive pvp game like a MOBA or FPS, then you will be way behind the curve by the time you get into the game. So when you do get into the game, it will be filled with veterans that will likely stomp you. But that happens to new players all the time as successful pvp games get new players in on a regular basis. You just got to get through the grind and practice to become better. No biggy.
Spoilers can be a problem if you're waiting for a heavily story-driven title to be released. But ultimately I can say that spoilers can be avoided if you simply bring your social media consumption down to a minimum, which I do. As of writing this blog post on June 13, 2021, I have yet to buy Cyberpunk 2077 and I know nothing of the story despite it having been out since December 9, 2020. And by all accounts, it seems it yet again paid off to be a patient gamer because the game is allegedly littered with bugs and other issues (but in fairness, those complaints seem to be in regard to console release whereas I'm a PC gamer).
So there's my piece on the advantages of being a patient gamer. I implore others to take this route as well not only for your own benefit, but for the industry as a whole. We as customers have the power here, all we have to do is say "No." It's really that simple. Don't let the studios continue dictating the market, that should be our job. Don't continue rewarding them for poor practices and game design just because something had a flashy trailer. Vote with your wallet and let them know you won't stand for a half-assed release of buggy trash. Stand tall and fold them arms over your chest while shaking your head. Make them earn their money, and game on.