Why buy on Day One? Or even Month One!?


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This is something about gamedom which has never made any kind of sense to me.

When a game first shows up, it's in a pretty weak state. Many of them have issues with quests breaking in odd circumstances, hardware configurations confusing the game, balance problems, and so on. Unless the game has been in early access, there won't be any guides out there to help you through the game (and, if it has been, you have to be careful to get a recent guide or risk bad info). There probably won't be any mods for the game yet and, as the game is likely to get patched, mods that do show up have an increased chance of mangling your game down the line. Some developers even add new content as the game goes along. Wait for a year and there's plenty of guides, mods, patches, and extra content.

So a game is actually worth more a year later, isn't it? Yet, a year later, you can get the game for quite a bit cheaper. That's a classic deflation situation that's supposed to result in customers not buying the product. So why isn't it? Is there some value to buying a game early that I'm not seeing??

I've heard a few claims over the years. Some say they will play the game multiple times. That may be true for the ones saying it but only something like one in four players actually finish games even one time, never mind twice so that can't be what's driving this. Others will say they want to support the developer. I can see that for independents that are barely making payroll every month but CDProjekt!?
I think it largely depends on the game, the type of gamer you are, and the type of game it is.

For example, games as a service is pretty much a no-go for me on day one, unless it's something I really, really want to play. GaaS is kind of memeworthy at this point for how un-developed the game tends to be, and I personally don't appreciate waiting 3-6 months between content release in what is usually an already bare-bones game.

Some games get developed on a slow burn but the experience changes drastically from initial release to full release. Rimworld is a great example, and one that had mods carry it throughout its way to 1.0. I've put so many hours into it, but the updates that came really did make an impact to how it played, forcing me into different styles and experiences. I'm really glad I played it from such an early start, not just because I got to see how it evolved, but because I got a lot out of it at different times. And some of the mods I played back in the day stopped getting updated, so if I had waited I would never have had the pleasure of the experience.

Divinity is another good one, since it's my most recent example of a gaming obsession. I played it at original launch, and it was a fantastic experience. Some bugs here and there but nothing game breaking. I beat it probably 3-4 times before the definitive edition, then when that hit, another 2-3 times. It added some content, fixed some bugs and balanced it out. The same but different experience, but with the amount of alternative paths it was a great replay even then. Since the DE came out, they put in the Four Relic of Rivellion, which netted me another 5 completions of the game. I still saw things I hadn't seen before, which is a testament to the detailed nature of the game, and a lot of things I might have missed had I waited.

Personally to me, the existence of guides doesn't really mean a lot to me. Mods certainly can, though. But I prefer to get the vanilla experience at least once. Often times I vastly prefer it, mostly because I hate getting too comfortable with a mod and then the developer of the mod no longer keeping up with it as updates break it.

So ultimately I guess it all really boils down to how much you want to play something and what you're after. I personally don't see much reason to wait unless it's something releasing in a bare-bones early access state, but I guess the developer also plays into it. Dead Matter is a great example of a game I should have waited on. I don't even mind the state it's in, but had I waited I would have seen just how bad the developers would be with keeping their community organized and informed, and would have lost faith in their ability and maturity to deliver a solid product that meets their vision.

It's funny you bring up CD Projekt, because they're one of those devs I don't really understand the love for and while I'm going to give cyberpunk a go, it's one of those titles I plan on snagging on sale someday.
Drunkpunk makes some good points, it does depend on you yourself and also on the game.

Like Zloth I buy 95% of my games later on, usually on some sort of sale. I absolutely agree that its much nicer to play things once the bugs have been fixed. Obviously if you're talking games with a large multiplyer component you might want to play at launch to take advantage of the matchmaking in case the community dies down. But that's not usually me.

One example of a single player game I can think of where I'm glad I played at launch is Sekiro. I'd been playing through the whole Dark Souls series recently before and so wanted to get involved early where I'd missed out with them.

I enjoyed being a part of that zeitgeist, I was into the game on release day and way into it for the first 2 weeks after release. There's a mystery and sense of discovery to those games that I'm glad I experienced while it was fresh. A sense of the community working something out together at the same time. A bit of the shine went off somehow now there's a million walkthroughs and guides, although its still a great game. I hope for a similar experience with Elden Ring.

I also think that on a psychological level for me, if I pay a couple of euros for an old game on a whim I'm probably less likely to actually play and finish that game. Maybe it's not logical but somehow if I pay 20 plus I'm more likely to make an effort to get into something. It might also be that I'm only going to spend more than 20 or 30 on something I really want to play in the first place.
Others will say they want to support the developer. I can see that for independents that are barely making payroll every month but CDProjekt!?
While there's doubtless some naivety about the size of CDPR, I can see some people wanting to reward good - or at least the better - developer behaviour. Certainly as regards consumers directly.

I feel happier giving CDPR my money than Creative Assembly.

Not everyone has an extensive backlog of games to get through. Some might only play games occasionally. Which means their gaming time is free to accommodate a sudden dive into X new title.

If you're a fan of the IP, or if it's a new IP but it has you excited and you don't have a litany of other games you feel that way about, you might well dive in when its fresh.

Not everyone's particularly bothered about bugs either. I am, which is why even with Cyberpunk I'll probably wait for them for to patch the hell out of it before going anywhere near it. But not everyone is as sensitive to it, and some who are are willing to take the risk to get into an exciting new story / gameplay loop asap.

And then there are any games with multiplayer where you want to be ahead of the curve.

Or with games as a service, you don't want to miss out on X seasonal / time-limited event.

And if you're a fledgling streamer, of which there are a lot, it makes sense to strike while the iron's hot.

And with both single and multiplayer games there can be a feeling of excitement about treading unknown paths - being among the first few (tens of thousands of) people to do X.

I still remember getting on the boat to Northrend in WoW pretty much on release of WOTLK, well over a decade ago. Not just what I saw when the new area loaded in and I got on shore, though I remember it vividly, but the feeling. It was one of the most exciting and emotionally profound experiences I've had in any video game. Or it must have been if I can still remember it like it was today.

I can completely respect why people dive in early with a game. Although I tend to argue against pre-orders...
I can see and adhere to both sides of the argument, depending on the game.

Sometimes there's something so new and refreshing on the horizon that you just want to be there day-and-date to experience it with the rest of the world. It was like that for me with games such as GTA IV, Dark Souls and Death Stranding. Games that really pushed new technology and new ideas, even came to define their genres. I'm sure Cyberpunk will be no different.

Other times it could be a new game from a trusted developer that you truly believe in your heart will be good. You could get burned, of course. I know I did when Diablo 3 first came out. I didn't like it at all, and I was so hyped for it. Sometimes your trust is justified, though. I bought a Nintendo console just to play Zelda: Breath of the Wild because I had absolute faith Nintendo would nail it, and they did. It set a new standard for what open world RPGs can be.

However, now that I'm an adult and most of my income is spent on the cost of living rather than luxury goods, I see the value in waiting for something to go on sale. The fact that any initial bugs and issues might be ironed out by then is a nice bonus, in my eyes, but I can live with some jank if it means experiencing something new.

What I stopped doing altogether some 7 or 8 years ago is preordering. I used to as a young adult, but Totalbiscuit of all people made me see the pointlessness of it. Why would you reward a developer with your money before they've even proven they can deliver the product that they promised you? The game might be missing features at launch, gotten a visual downgrade or just straight up run like ass on your machine. The consumer doesn't benefit in any way from a preorder, but they have to live with the consequences of it.

And don't get me started on preorder 'bonuses'. If that's enough incentive for you to justify an early purchase then you absolutely deserve all the trash developers shovel your way. Don't let them entice or strong-arm you.
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I still remember getting on the boat to Northrend in WoW pretty much on release of WOTLK, well over a decade ago. Not just what I saw when the new area loaded in and I got on shore, though I remember it vividly, but the feeling. It was one of the most exciting and emotionally profound experiences I've had in any video game. Or it must have been if I can still remember it like it was today.

I agree with this (WoTLK is easily my favorite WoW expansion). Sometimes the experience can be much more than what someone objectively analyzes it to be from the outside. I played with my friends on the day that WoW Classic launched, and it was extraordinarily memorable and fun. People lining up to kill quest monsters because there were so many people; players yelling, insisting that everyone line up orderly to kill the boss. It was hilarious and a ton of fun. Of course, if you look at it objectively, it was a total mess. Quests were nearly impossible to complete because there were just too many people. Insanely long login queues, some server instability. Nonetheless, that launch experience can never be replicated again, and it was special to be a part of it.

Nonetheless, I ultimately agree that I will usually avoid pre-ordering and playing on day one. I generally prefer things to get ironed out before I jump into a game. But I certainly don't blame people for doing it. Some of those experiences can be really awesome.
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Yeah, I can see multi-player being that way. Though, personally, I learned to just stay away from "patch day." I would much rather help beta test if I want to see it all first as its MUCH less crazy. (If you made me line up to fight a monster, I would probably log off and look longingly through all my Instanced City of Heroes screenshots.)

Seeing a game develop, not quite as much. At least at the time scale I'm talking about. Games can expand to be more (e.g. Civilization and No Man's Sky) but they do it over years. The first few months are typically much more minor features and a lot of bug fixing. There are some games telling stories like Asheron's Call did way back around Y2K that might be worth getting into early.

The excitement... uuummm... I wonder how much of that is "native" excitement and how much is coming from all the marketing buzz? I loved Final Fantasy 7 when it showed up on PC way back even before Asheron's Call. If they're making a re-make, I'm going to want to play it. Then I see one of their trailers with the "the same but better" music, super-high-rez Cloud doing the exact same slashing attack from the original, the little moments that foreshadow so much, plus some things that are clearly new, too I MUST HAVE THIS GAME!!! But now the hype storm is gone, and waiting the extra year for the PS exclusive to end doesn't sound all that bad, as long as I get to play it in the next couple of years.
Y'all might enjoy looking thru Quantic Foundry and their Gamer Motivation analyses.

When game companies stopped issuing demos, I stopped buying early. That's quite a while ago now, isn't it—probably over a decade. I have bought only one game full price early on since the 00s—the Command & Conquer Remaster which came out this June.

A number of reasons for that:
Superb value—$20 for 2 full games and 3 full expansions.
It was largely done by a bunch of the original Westwood Studios devs now at Petroglyph Games.
The community was involved fully from the start.
They released it on Steam.

With all that, I still waited a bit to confirm it worked properly on launch day. Obviously I'm a big fan, C&C is 1 of my top-3 franchises, but that's no reason to forget my approach.

I want to vote with my wallet to increase the chances EA will greenlight remastering more C&C games.
I also want to vote with my wallet for a company doing a superb job with a game release—and yes, you read right, this is EA.

I agree with Zloth's position, for me there's almost never a reason to buy near release. Eg I finally got Civ6 this summer for $40 during a Steam sale—that's including the 2 main expansions, plus a bunch of DLC.
Seeing a game develop, not quite as much. At least at the time scale I'm talking about. Games can expand to be more (e.g. Civilization

Civ's a very interesting one where there's actually a case for going in from the start.

The expansions add new game mechanics as well as new civs, so it can be easier to learn he base game and then the mechanics as they are progressively layered on top of that rather than the whole lot at once. It's one of the things putting me off a bit diving into some other, more complex 4x type games that have been around a while.

Also, the scope of the changes are often quite significant, so in some ways you can get more mileage out of playing vanilla, then + Xpack 1, then plux Xpack 2 and so on. While you can turn DLCs off in Civ, patches intended to balance the game with its expansions still apply to the base game without them, certainly in Civ 5 (e.g. no longer getting gold from river tiles with the advent of Brave New World. You kind of need the features of the DLC to balance out the loss of income, so playing with it turned off means you're not getting the same game as if you played it before the xpack and accompanying patch launched.

Firaxis don't do substantial patches very often either (the current Civ 6 season pass is a break from the norm). So if you hold off at launch for major gameplay changes you'll be holding off a while.

Also, some of their patches really do affect gameplay massively. The Fall Patch in Gods and Kings Civ 5 being a prime example. The game went from one you could legitimately play peacefully to one where you were just about guaranteed to get double-declared on around turn 50-70.

On the one hand that's an argument for waiting for the final product and seeing what it's like. On the other, sometimes it's best to get in early and adapt to the changes as they come.
It depends on how much I want to invest in the company. Do I want to support them and also give them feedback as the game develops, then I'll most likely stick around from start. Other times I support because I know it is a good company with good products and I feel confident in investing early (Larian Studios as an example). I do make some bad choices once a while, but I can live with that, especially when I look at how many thousands of dollars I have saved buying games being 75%++ off or getting free games. This changes a bit with a subscription-based model (gamepass, etc) though, which can very good for the consumer, but perhaps not as good for the developers feedback wise.

There is also something special (as @Rensje also pointed out) being there from the start and experiencing it with the community (both in-game or external) While you will definitely still have a great experience, you miss out on some of the good and bad experiences coming with playing a game at the early stages. That said, not all games have a community you would like to be with at all, so there is that also.
Last edited:
Jul 13, 2020
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I'm usually very vary of spoilers and I do buy some games on day one just so I can play it, avoid spoilers on internet, park benches or florist.
Also playing the game early gives me opportunity to exchange ideas and thoughts with others playing right now while it's hot.
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