I’m sure there is a name for people like me. The people who don’t watch movies when they are new, don’t read books when they come out, don’t binge that show the first weekend, and don’t play games in the first month. I could blame it on having kids, but honestly, I was pretty far down this path before they came along. I just like to wait a little.
I get excited by trailers and hype pieces like any fan. I search out interviews with creators, and eat up behind the scenes clips. I just don’t buy much, especially games, on the first day.
I certainly have in the past. There were games that I bought at retail on launch day. I don’t feel like I really regret any of those purchases, but I know that it probably would have been better to wait.
Games aren’t really like a lot of other artistic mediums. There is that quote attributed to da Vinci that goes “art is never finished, only abandoned”. What if your art was not only never finished, but you could dabble on the canvas months or years after it was sold and installed in the customers home. Imagine now that you could make those changes from, and too, anywhere in the world. That art now has the potential to never be finished. People could enjoy that art over and over again as new changes and additions are presented to them. They could even be encouraged to pay for that art again to see more of it. They could be persuaded to subscribe to that art, continually paying and continually receiving. This is where games have diverged from our historical understanding of art. Art as an object or experience that can be bought or sold. Frankly, we haven’t got a damn clue how to promote art like that. We don’t know how to advertise it. We don’t know how to market it. Does the big expensive launch even make sense anymore?
I don’t think I’m a unique case. I think that more and more people are waiting and choosing the art they want to engage with when they want to engage with it. Not just when it becomes available. Not when the advertisements are out in full force. The rise of streaming and subscription services isn't just due to availability. It's the way people want their art delivered to them. On their own schedule.
With games there is an even more practical reason for waiting. Games get better after the initial launch. Bugs get fixed. Features get added. Issues get resolved. This doesn't happen with music or movies. There is no patch coming to The Beatles Revolver. That album came out, and other than being transferred to new delivery mediums, it remains unchanged. Video Games are sprawling software systems, and most of them currently can communicate over the Internet. They can be modified, and improved over time. This wasn't always the case in the past, but that is the way it works now. The way that video games work has changed. The way the are advertised and sold should probably change with it.
As someone who is endeavoring to make and sell games, maybe it would be best for me if people got revved up for new releases and bought them right when they are put on offer. Maybe that is the best way to make money. There is value in knowing when a ship has sailed. The big marketing push is near its end. Now would be a good time to explore the consistent low level hum. Marketing as gentle reminder.
I'm a terrible salesman. I don't really know how any of this is supposed to work, but I think that games can have a much longer life than they currently enjoy. I think, with my limited ability, extending that life is what I will try to do. Other people wait too. It's not a matter of telling them to buy now, it's more about reminding them your game exists when they are ready to make a purchase.