Itís all fun and games: The 1st Quarter of 2009

At my best guess, I spent close to $500 on video games in 2008. It sickens me to think of it. One of my goals this year was to spend no more than the price of two premium games at retail ($120) and to see how far my enjoyment goes.

This means that I didnít want to spend more than that amount out of pocket total for the year. My game purchases for the year so far:

  • Mount & Blade (Steam)ó$7.50
  • Monster Trucks Nitro (Steam)ó$10
  • Soldner-X: Himmelssturmer (PS3)ó$10
  • Battlefield: Bad Company (PS3)ó$15
  • Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3)ó$35
  • Kingdom Hearts II (PS2)ó$20
  • Killzone 2 (PS3)ó$60
  • Ultimate Shooting Collection (Wii)ó$30
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II (Steam)ó$50
  • Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (Steam)ó$20
  • Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (DS)ó$30
  • Flower (PS3)ó$10
  • Big Bang Mini (DS)ó$20
  • World of Goo (Steam)ó$5
  • Bit.Trip.Beat (Wii)ó$6
  • Red Baron Arcade (PS3)ó$10

Total: $338.50

As you can see I proved myself to be very weakóand weíre just at a quarter of the way through the year. Of course, some may say I can rationalize and not count PC games or even games I bought used. However, Iím a gamer and itís a total package.

I do intend to unload every one of those retail copies, so I intend to recoup some of my losses.

Before I finish let me share the titles of which I had fun and continue to play.

  • Monster Trucks Nitro
  • Warhammer: Dawn of War II
  • Flower
  • Big Bang Mini
  • Bit.Trip.Beat
  • Red Baron Arcade

Fun total: $106

My final thought: what is the problem here?

At this rate, I hope not to spend over $1000 on games!


  1. I’m afraid to tally up what I’ve spent on games but the scary thing is that I already know that whatever the total is, it’s far less than what I spent by this time last year.

    I think this has been the year that I try to get my bang for my buck in a way that I haven’t done in some time. I keep buying JRPGs for the DS for some reason though…

  2. I wrestle with the same problem all the time: buying more than I have time to enjoy. That aside, I think the problem here ó partially ó is that you created an unrealistic goal: spending a mere $120 a year.

    If gaming is your primary hobby, then itís reasonable to assume that you will spend money on at least one game each month. New, used, oldÖ doesnít matter. You will be buying games regularly and $10/mo. is setting your budgetary sights too high (well, low).

    I canít give any advice on what is a realistic budget because everyone spends their time differently, as well as game differently. Some people play a game for a couple weeks and walk away from them, never to return. Renting is a better option for them (or GameFly). Some play a single game for months on end. Some play them on-and-off, depending on the type of game. The answer lies in identifying your own habits, and then creating a budget to work with it.

  3. I’d have to track it, but I’m sure I’ve already spent less this year than last even though I have purchased a ton of games already. I’ve gotten a lot of stuff on sale and that has kept the price down.

    I don’t obsess too much about what I spend on games but I am very careful never to spend more than I can afford. This is actually pretty easy for me since I do not have a credit card. Either I have the cash available or I do not.

    Although every mediocre game I buy for $60 is another strike against that price point. If the game industry doesn’t want me buying used or reduced price games then they better start making it worth my while.

  4. @MarkóI believe you are right. I do need to identify my play styles and stick with it.

    I would consider myself an impulse player. I’ll play a game 2-3 times and then move on. The investment on how I got the title rarely reaps on what I paid for it.

    I was just chatting with someone that I think it’s possible to have “video gamer burnout” (besides the game). There are times where I just want to eliminate it all and just go to one system and see where that leads.

    The problem: I just cannot seem to let go of the investment I’ve made in some titles and some consoles (via DLC).

    I’ve finished one game in the last six months, yet I have a stack of maybe 20 by the TV that have been played once or twice. In many ways, I’m ashamed that I let it get that way. Is it my primary hobby? I guess so. However, what a waste. I must be more responsible.

    I’ve found the most fun recently in games that offer quick fixes (I am NOT looking at you Puzzle Quest: Galactrix!). I guess, upon reflection of typing this, my play style is quick. My purchases should reflect that and not just getting titles willy nilly.

  5. Some good comments here.

    I haven’t spent a lot yet this year, but if I include my Gamefly subscription, it’s already 75$, more than a retail game. In that time I’ve had out one 360 game (Left 4 Dead, which I still have) and two Wii games. My kids have got more than our money’s worth out of Carnival Games. On the whole, I’m ahead of the game, but am currently being tempted by 3 or 4 games.

    The best money spent thus far has been the GTA Lost and Damned expansion.

  6. Nat, given your status (and mine) as parents of relatively young children, I think it’s perfectly understandable to want to play games that give you that quick fix. The only times I can sink any meaningful amount of time into a game are when the kids are sleeping (which is also when I have to try to catch up on my television and movies) or, sadly, when I’m at work and things are quiet.

    Otherwise, I’ve found myself playing games like Peggle or their ilk since I can just fire it up and be done fast.

  7. @Brock–That’s just it. The only time I have are when the kids are asleep. I do play some games with my son and we have a blast, but it’s not all we do (we read, play boardgames, play toy cars, play outside, make elaborate Thomas the Train layouts, draw, etc.).

    However, when the kids are asleep I am tired as well. I don’t want to be up late playing a game, even though sometimes I am–maybe 2-3 times a month. Since I’m bushed I do passive things such as watch TV, read a book, or spend time with my wife (don’t go there!).

    Earlier I stated that my hobby is gaming. Having a day to think about it, I don’t expect that to be true. My hobby is my family.

    Something’s gotta give somewhere, and it won’t be them.

  8. @Nat ó I think the concerns you have are much more common than you think. Am I spending too much? As an adult, how can I find time to play when family comes first? How do I cope with the idea that Iíll never be able to play, let alone finish, all the games that Iím interested in? When will I ever be able to get to all those unfinished games that Iím sincerely interested in?

    Maybe you guys donít think about all those things, but I certainly do. I make a good dollar, but who wants to waste money? I donít have kids, but I spend the majority of my time in the evenings with my wifeÖ who doesnít enjoy video games at all. She likes listening to Law & Order reruns while she needlepoints, or would prefer to watch Jeopardy together, not play games. So my gaming time starts only after she falls asleep. How much time do I have left to play before I get too tired? Not much.

    Like you, I have a monster-sized pile of unfinished games. Itís become a pile of guilt. I cannot move myself to part with them, and as the months pass and I add more games to my collection, the mound of guilt rises even higher.

    This year I am making a concerted effort to cut back on my spending, focus on the games I have, and hold back my desire to experience everything that appeals to me. Iím trying to be realistic about it. I have 2 periods when I have an opportunity to game: to-and-from work on the Metro line, and after my wife falls asleep. Knowing that, I choose to play either a DS or PSP game for traveling, and a console game in the evenings.

    How am I drilling down the number of games I purchase? By the number of hours available during each period. I have 2 hours of travel time per day, so I limit myself now to 3-4 portable games each year. Most of those games have great legs, and if I game 2-3 days a week (and read the other days), I am getting in about 5 gaming hours/week.

    For consoles, I can only focus for about 1-2 hours per sitting, 3-4 times a week (at best). That means, optimally, Iím only getting 8 hours for console titles each weekÖ which translates to roughly completing one game a month (on average). I feel itís important to complete games because it provides a huge sense of accomplishment.

    Obviously, I could yak on and on about this. I just wanted to let you know that youíre not alone in both motive and behavior. Learning how to self-discipline oneself can be quite a challenge. But donít give up. You donít have to trade in something you like to do because of family. Your family can simply become your partners for some of the games you will have time to play.

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