Are video games now better than they ever have been?
The answer to that question is entirely subjective, of course, but we can probably all agree that in terms of the sheer breadth and depth of on-demand entertainment available, we’ve never had it so good.
There are bargains and cheap thrills wherever you look. Game Pass, Switch Online and the newly revamped PlayStation Plus all bundle (varying degrees of) on tap entertainment into a nice, easily digestible monthly fee. Elsewhere, steep weekly discounts on every format and digital storefront reel in would-be purchasers with pocket money-priced legacy titles and more. The preowned market is still a thing, and supermarkets regularly discount leftover blockbusters, their mission as loss leaders long since accomplished.
As such, opportunities abound these days for gamers to positively gorge themselves on discounted games, acquired on a whim with the flimsiest of justifications. This, dear readers, is how I ended up with a game collection that somewhat resembles a hall of mirrors.
Crysis of Conscience
Let me tell you a tale. About Crysis.
I bought a boxed copy a few years after it came out, never really played it properly and ended up getting rid of it. In 2021, the Crysis remaster comes around; I buy it for Xbox One and it launches in an awful state, so I give up after a couple of hours. Then I buy a PS5, the Remastered Trilogy comes around, and it’s cheaper to buy all three in a bundle from the PlayStation Store than just Crysis 2 and Crysis 3. Some time later, I sit through every single Digital Foundry video on Crysis and wonder how the original compares, so I buy it and its expansion from GOG just to mess around with. I now have access to two purchased copies of Crysis Remastered, a copy of the classic 2007 edition and I could play the PC version of the Remaster on EA Play via Game Pass if I wanted. God help me, I nearly bought it on PC on Steam again so I could get some Steam Achievements out of it.
Then there’s flashy, parkour Ninja-’em-up, Ghostrunner. The demo was great, but I didn’t fancy paying full price for it. The notably inferior (but since patched up somewhat) Switch build was so cheap at £5 I was prepared to forgive it looking ugly as sin. But then, it dropped nearly as low on the PlayStation Store, with a free PS5 upgrade in the offing. Well, it’d be rude not to, wouldn’t it? Then I got a free PC copy via my wife’s Amazon Prime subscription, allowing me to experience it with keyboard and mouse and high frame rates.
Oh, and Sonic Mania. SEGA provided us with a review copy at launch. Then I bought the Plus physical re-release on Switch for the new content and portable play. However, we also ended up with a Steam copy when it went on sale, because (long story short) parting with the £4 was easier than listening to children argue about whose turn it is on which device. At least they have good taste, right?
In addition to all of this, off the top my head I also own two copies of Sonic Generations, 4 and Adventure, two copies of Fable, two copies of all of the classic Doom games, two copies of the Bioshock Collection, two copies of Ikaruga, two copies of Dark Souls, two copies of Jedi: Fallen Order, two copies of Red Alerts 2 and 3, two copies of Diablo III, two copies each of Crysis 2 and 3, two copies of Star Wars Battlefront 2, two copies of Mass Effect 2 and two copies of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Even at that, I’m probably forgetting some.
Breaking the Cycle
In my defense, a few of these were procured for free and those that weren’t were in most cases very heavily discounted, so we’re talking very small amounts in monetary terms. But even so, actually making a list makes me realize what a pointless exercise buying many of these games has been in the long run, even if my credit card was whipped out with the best of intentions at the time.
Another long term consideration here is that each digital purchase invests you further in that specific ecosystem, so as time goes on it becomes harder and harder to part with hardware you no longer want or need. Thus, the cycle continues.
Maybe just having this out in the open will make me think twice next time I consider rebuying something for spurious reasons.
Or maybe, as I type this, I’m browsing Microsoft’s latest Xbox sale while waiting for Sony’s yearly Days of Play shindig to kick off, wondering if it’s worth getting Bayonetta again for the Gamerscore bump.
My name is Dan, and I have a problem.