After looking at the cost of Guild Wars 2 and feeling a muscle in my eyeball involuntarily spasm, I started considering my spending habits. I’m currently splitting my money in three ways: indie games, Steam, and funding in Kickstarter. I don’t have any MMO subs, as I’m mainly action focused, and obviously my Steam account is already crammed with games. But none of this made me twitch. Instead it’s because as PC gamer I’ve never had to spend much on games, and in this odd, new free-to-pay future, in my eyes the cost of games feels like it’s getting cheaper. At least that’s what I thought. The one consistent expenditure I have is when I want to buy something in Team Fortress 2’s store, which saves every transaction. Going over my purchases I realise it’s not cheaper at all, and, in comparison, £50 on Guild Wars isn’t that bad.
Since Valve started adding buyables I’ve spent £44 (US$68.90) on TF2’s trinkets. That’s more than the Orange Box cost when it first came out. If you ever wonder how a game can make money, even flourish, just by selling items, then it’s that piecemeal, ‘I can afford x amount’ mentality for things that don’t matter that I didn’t realise I’d been doing. I thought I’d spent £10, tops.
Breaking it down, the biggest single outlay was for the Deus Ex Weapons pack, that I’ve since abandoned in favour of The Spy’s Amabassador and The Sniper’s stock rifle, and I barely play Engi so his weapons in that pack were just dead weight. I’ve bought keys for crates 11 times, and as far as I can recall I’ve only ever had one weapon out of those that I kept as a main: A Strange variant of the Scattergun: I spent £21.89 on hope.
The things I like that I bought are the name tags, but even then the knife I named “Mother” has been dropped in favour of the Strange version as well. So I’ve spent £44 and can see very little benefit from the expenditure. Meanwhile, I’m twitching at the thought of spending £50 for a full game. I’ve been devaluing games for the past year, shifting my spending to smaller and smaller chunks, but even for a game like TF2, one that I play almost every day, I’m putting money in and not getting the same value out. Not from the purchases at any rate. My time is being well spent, in that I’m having fun in the overall experience and it makes me happier to spend money now and then, but the downside is that other games are suffering: I don’t want to spend money on them because a few quid here and there seems enough when you’re on Steam. Somehow my perception of value shifted, and not only was not even aware of it, but I wasn’t getting value for what I was spending.
A large part of that is because I’m so hopelessly addicted to TF2, and there’s value in that in and of itself, but looking back at what I’ve spent money on and where it’s made me rethink what I’d consider paying for. Guild Wars 2 might never end up free-to-play and if it did, how much would I end up spending on it anyway? Part of me thinks I’d only spend that much on something like TF2, because it’s treated me rather well, but I’d really like to have gotten a direct feeling of value from what I’ve spent and I’m just not seeing that: I’ve had more from free drops in the game than I’ve ever had from spending money in it.
So, yeah: PC gaming is cheap, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been spending a lot of money on it. I never thought I’d spend £40+ on a game again, but I already have. If I have the money, I’m pre-purchasing Guild Wars 2.