Game launches are a pretty big deal. We wait so long for titles to come out, hype builds, marketing reaches a peak, and it feels like everyone is talking about the game. Certainly there is also a fear of missing out when it comes to launches. But are launches always the best time to purchase a game?
When it comes to multiplayer games, the answer is probably yes. This is usually when the most players are simultaneously playing games and the servers are full of matches. It’s also likely the time when all your friends are the most interested, before they move onto something else. DLC often comes in the form of season passes, too, so you can buy upfront if you think you really want to keep playing, but that’s always a gamble. In fact, downloadable content is one of the reasons I hesitate to buy games at launch sometimes.
This even extends to multiplayer games because, like I said, I may not end up playing a game as long as I hope. It’s also possible that the game will be better or more refined down the line, as was the case with Sea of Thieves and, hopefully, Anthem. But this isn’t always the case. There are always other, cheaper options than the shiny new game.
What I really resent is when publishers stack on a few years of DLC that relates to a game's main story. Final Fantasy XV felt mostly unfinished because of this. Come to think of it, there were multiple reasons I was upset by that game. I played it at launch. I rushed through it. My experience would have been dramatically different from that of people who played a month later, because difficulty was tweaked and a whole segment of the game changed.
That’s not where the story ends, though. In the case of this game, we saw around two years of DLC that fills in the story. That’s a long time to commit to a game, and it’s a big ask to expect gamers to remember all of what happened over that time. A new piece of content, focusing on the games villain, only recently came out. A bunch of planned content was deleted. And some of this isn’t even on the Royal Edition, which is meant to be a collection of the game’s DLC, but it was released before all of it was even out. That disc is really only a discounted version of everything that had come out so far but in a shiny box, and it likely would have been better if I just waited to buy that.
Collections like this might also be another incentive to wait. Frequently, those big games with big launches get something called a Game of the Year Edition that collects all of the material that came out for your convenience. You also save a lot of money. Sometimes, they even include bonus content.
The idea of games as a service raises questions, too. Street Fighter V is a very competitive game and was released with only a handful of characters. Now, it’s got a healthy roster. Hypothetically, what if that original roster wasn’t enough for you and you burnt out on it? What if you then sold your game. Are you willing to take the loss and buy the game again for everything it has become?
These aren’t the biggest gripes in the world and often your experience will still be enjoyable. But will it be optimal? As someone who worries that he isn’t getting the best resolution possible for a game or that he might just be experiencing some latency that I can’t even perceive, it is frustrating. Maybe I’m a bit entitled but I do want the best experience possible so I tend to fret over when the ideal time to purchase a game might be. It used to be easier.