Gaming My Way

11 May

How to Get Me to Buy (or not Buy) a Computer Game

There are a lot of things I look for in a PC game. They all boil down to two things though: is it fun, and is it easy to use? Let’s have a look at some of these things in more detail though.

1) Does my computer meet the game’s recommended requirements?
Note I don’t look at minimum requirements anymore unless those are all that are provided. That’s because most of the time, games for which my computer only meets the minimum requirements run horribly.

What this means is that I don’t care how pretty your game is, if my computer can’t run it well, I won’t buy it. Also, if I ever buy a game that does not run well with settings set for mid-range quality and my computer meets the recommended requirements, I won’t buy PC games from that company until I borrow a few games from friends to see if they work well at the requirements given. I’ll stick with games my computer can run well.

To put this in perspective, my current computer has an AMD Athlon XP2800+ 2.12 GHz processor, an ATI Radeon IGP 320M, and 1 GB of ram, 128 MB of which is used as video memory. At the time, I didn’t know what integrated graphics were, or how terrible they are for gaming, but that’s what I’m stuck with for now. I’ve had this computer for four years now, and I’m looking to buy a new one by the end of the year if I can afford it.

However, while I’ll be sure to get a real video card this time around, I will not have the latest and greatest in my PC. I’ll have a middle of the line computer I can get for $1000 or less. And it will last me another console generation. If games aren’t made for a computer bought on that budget, I won’t be buying them. And there is a substantial market that agrees it’s ridiculous to either update every six months to one year or dump thousands of dollars on a new computer to make it last awhile for gaming.

Now, I’m not saying people shouldn’t develop for top-end systems. They should just be aware of which market they’re making games for. And I, along with many others, am not part of that market.

2) Is it a good game?
Once again, I don’t care how pretty a game is if it isn’t fun. I just don’t. Now, being pretty can add to the fun, but it better back it up with quality gameplay, a good story, or preferably both. There isn’t really much to say here, other than if it’s not a fun game, I won’t buy it. Which is a shame, since this is the most important thing about a game, so I feel like there should be more to say. Perhaps try reading about The Experience of Gaming to get an idea of what I look for.

3) Does the game have good single player support?
Most of the time I game, I’m gaming by myself. That means if the game is heavily multiplayer, it better have a good, quick way of matching me up with other players for a match, or in the case of an MMORPG, it had better be fun to play without a group. Alternatively, a fun and engaging single player mode is completely fine by me, and actually preferred. The less I need to rely on other people to have fun, the more likely I am to buy and play the game. Also, internet connection required for play means I’m less likely to buy. Sometimes, a connection just isn’t available, and if it’s not, I still like being able to game. Of course, if the game is good enough, I’ll buy it anyway, as long as there’s a good reason to require an internet connection, such as the game being an MMORPG.

4) Does the game charge by the month?
If it does, like most MMORPGs, you can bet I’m not buying it unless I can justify giving up three new games a year for it. Alternatively, you could try going the route of Guild Wars, a game with many concepts I like, just not quite executed well enough for me to really get into it. They did take a huge step in the right direction though, and I bought the first game. With no monthly charges included. It was fun for long enough that I’m pleased with my purchase, and if I ever feel the need, I can just reinstall and play again.

Back to the point though, there is no game in existence for which I’d give up three high quality games a year in exchange. There are a lot of good games out there, and I have to prioritize where my spending goes.

Also, with some games, it’s not uncommon for me to play for a day or two a week, or even a day or two a month when I’m busy, and it’s just a waste of money for me to pay for a whole month when I’m only getting a few days out of it. Paying for a month makes me feel like I need to get the most out of that money, and play a game to the detriment of other things I need or want to get done. I want flexibility to play when and how often I want, and monthly payments restrict that if I want to pick the game up and play for a day or two, then play other games for awhile until I pick up the game again.

5) How does the game protect itself from pirates?
Using a cd key? That’s cool. It’s a little irritating during installation, but I understand people want to protect their work.

Making me connect to the internet to validate it’s a real copy whenever I want to play your single player game? I won’t be buying it. Sorry, but I often play single player games when I’m without an internet connection, such as on a train ride home, or when my internet connection is down, or even with friends when we’re killing time and don’t feel like doing anything else for the time being. Furthermore, if the authentication system used ever goes down, what guarantee do I have I’ll be able to play?

For a game that’s online only, if you’ve sold me on it already, feel free to authenticate my cd key by internet. I need the internet to play anyway, so I’ve decided the inconvenience of needing internet access is worth it. That said, if I find the authentication checks stuff on my computer other than the cd key, I won’t buy the game.

Limits on how often I can install it? I won’t buy it. I uninstall games when I get bored with them to have space for new games, and if I want to play the game later, I reinstall it. If I have to call tech support to get a game activated because I’m out of allowed installations, that’s more hassle than I care to deal with. I like things that I can do by myself. Not only that, but those limits prevent me from selling the game later on if I decide I want to. I bought a physical copy, and legally I can sell that copy. If I’m ever strapped for cash, I just might sell a sizable portion of my games collection. I’ve considered it once or twice.

Does your protection make my system less secure by installing rootkits and other malware? Not only will I not buy the game, I’ll actively make sure everyone knows that the game makes use of copy protection that makes their system less stable. After they know that, their call what they want to do.

Basically, protect your game in a way that doesn’t inconvenience me too much, doesn’t potentially harm my computer, and doesn’t require me to get outside help with it to make it work when I want it to, and I’ll be happy. Otherwise, I won’t buy the game.

6) Do you provide a physical copy of the game?
If it’s download only, I won’t buy it. I want to have a physical copy of the game. That way, I can be sure I’ll be able to transfer it to a new computer when I get one that’s better. Also, I can be sure if I uninstall it, I’ll be able to reinstall it later if I want to play again. With download only copies, I have no guarantee I’ll be able to get the game again after I delete it from my hard drive.

In the end, what I expect is an easy, fun, trouble free experience. First and foremost, the game must convince me it will be enjoyable. After that, it must be convenient to setup and play, as well as work on my computer. Otherwise I’m not going to waste my time when there’s a wealth of easy to pick up and play games for consoles, and a number of such titles on the PC as well.

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