Discussion Points — How Do You Determine The Value Of A Video Game? Matt Bianucci September 25, 2013 Before we start, we must apologize for not posting a Discussion Point last week. We had some scheduling issues causing us to be unable to post it on time. This week, however, we are back on track. Nathan Hughes and Matt Bianucci are here to discuss the value of a video game, the games we think have the best value, and things that could make games have more value. The value of a game. Nathan: First up, are you a new buyer person or do you like to be patient and wait for the pre-owned? Matt: I don’t think I have ever bought a used game. I am not a fan of developers not getting anything from pre-owned game sales, so I like to buy games new. Nathan: Wow, I’m rather the opposite. If it’s a series I love, I save save save for it. But if it’s a game I want to try out, I buy used. Matt: I normally look for a demo if it’s a game I want to try, otherwise I just look for reviews of a game like that and try to determine that way. Nathan: That is a good way to determine if a game is worth your time and money. Matt: That’s the way I determine whether or not I will buy a game I am on the fence about probably about 90% of the time. Nathan: However, if a game is a solely single player experience and doesn’t have a replayability factor, I purchase used. Even though a game like LA Noire was a lot more expensive to make than a game like Fallout 3, I would purchase Fallout 3 at full price easily before LA Noire. LA Noire is story focused and once the story is out of the way, you’ve nothing really to work for. You know what happens and the game loses a bit of replayability because of this. However, with Fallout 3, you get a lot of twisting turns and different beginnings for characters. More chances to play it differently so I value it a lot more! Matt: That’s when I will wait for a game to drop in price. I won’t buy used, but I will wait a couple of months until the game is $30 or $40 and I can still support the developers and get the game cheaper. Nathan: I do love when a game plays differently twice but not when it’s shoe horned in and feels so blatant like they want you to replay (a bit like replaying GTA V missions in order to unlock gold because they don’t show the gold mission requirements until the end.) Matt: That’s why I love games with choice. InFamous and Mass Effect are 2 of my favorite choices because of how different the second playthrough can be and how it feels like such a different game than it did before. Nathan: Exactly. It feels natural for those games to incorporate the option to replay with different results. Matt: That’s where I think the industry is going. Many new triple-A games will incorporate some sort of choice feature or ways to get different endings or outcomes as a way to keep players coming back for more, especially with the used game debate being the way it is right now. Nathan: That’s exactly what I dislike though; the need to make games replayable to offer more value. I like when a game is replayable because a) it works naturally with the gameplay or b) the experience was so good that you want to tackle it with a different approach. Matt: That’s where something like Uncharted comes to mind for me. But I love games that make me replay it, not to find out the rest of a story, but to tell a different one. I want it to feel like a different game, not just an addition to the one I’ve already played. That’s why I loved InFamous 2; the good and evil playthroughs are extremely different. Nathan: Games like Dark Souls have the same experience everytime you play, but I have at least 3 game saves with different characters from a mage, a thief and a tank. It’s rewarding and fun to play the game differently. One of the best ways to add replayability without forcing choices that don’t feel natural is to add a new game plus. I understand that the inFamous series is perfect for replaying, but imagine playing something like Assassin’s Creed and there was suddenly a choice system. It wouldn’t feel natural to the gameplay. Matt: True. Established series shouldn’t change. For example, Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed aren’t going to become choice systems with many different endings because that’s not what the series are about, but choice systems will be a big part of the new IPs that come out, especially with the next generation coming soon. I’m also not a huge fan of replaying something just for a different gameplay experience. Playing as two different character types isn’t really fun for me. I already know what’s going to happen, and even though the way I get there is different, it will feel a bit anticlimactic. Nathan: Moving on: Does multiplayer factor in when considering a game’s value? Matt: For me, absolutely. For instance, take The Last of Us. I loved that game so much, but I have only played through it once so far. However, I have played over 20 hours or more of the multiplayer because of how much fun it is to play. It is implemented perfectly and kept me hooked. Nathan: For me, multiplayer comes second for certain games. With FPS shooters, of course I focus on the MP but if I’m playing a game for the main story and the multiplayer is good and addictive, I consider it a bonus. Matt: That’s why The Last of Us was so great for me. The story is fantastic and is the main part of the game, but the multiplayer kept me coming back for more. I also love games that have multiplayer modes that tie into the single player story; something like Mass Effect 3. Nathan: Exactly. It was such a fantastic multiplayer. Matt: That is a game that is entirely built around the story, but encourages you to play the multiplayer to have a better outcome. Nathan: Now, are you a player who would rather a game that’s long but consistently enjoyable or a game that’s short but an absolute blast to play (take Vanquish for example)? Matt: I can enjoy both. I love the long RPGs that can get a bit grindy in the middle but overall are great experiences, but I also adore the story-based shorter games. I loved Skyrim, but I also love Uncharted. If I had to pick, however, I’d say the shorter ones. If a game is a blast to play with a great story, I’ll pick it up again and do it over, even if I know what’s coming. Nathan: I’m the exact same. I prefer any form of media to be snappy, quick thrill ride, not long and drawn out; not to say this make it boring or unenjoyable. It just doesn’t suit my game style. Now, what would you consider the best value for money game you’ve ever played? Matt: That’s a very difficult choice for me. If I had to pick, though, I’d say it’s a toss-up between three games: The Last of Us, Uncharted 2, and Saints Row: The Third. The Last of Us, as I said, had an amazing story and a fantastic multiplayer mode that I still play. Uncharted 2 (and the whole Uncharted series) had an amazing story that I played through 4 times. Finally, Saints Row: The Third was the most fun I’ve ever had in a game. It’s a great city with a great story and great gameplay. To choose one from those three, I’d choose The Last of Us. The fact that I still play the multiplayer and, 5 months after finishing the game, I still think about the impact that game had on me, it can’t be beaten. Nathan: Great choices, I’ve sunk a fair few hours into every one of those games. Matt: So what would your best valued game be? Nathan: For me, it’s not easy to pick just one either. In terms of maximum amount of play time versus the price you pay? I’d say Just Cause 2. Just Cause 2 is like current-gen San Andreas strapped to a propane tank. So many things to fly, drive, blow up, collect… It’s an open world paradise. You can easily pick this game up cheap and it’s so worth the 20 you’ll spend on it. Another great game that’s cheap would Deus Ex: Human Revolution. While the endings weren’t great and the boss fights were lame, the game had a lot playstyles and augmentations to invest in that you can replay the story around 3 times in order to collect everything. Plus it’s very cheap pre-owned. I recommend waiting on the new Augmented Edition that’s coming out. It fixes most of the problems the first game had and I’ll be definitely picking it up. Final one is Dark Souls. It had the same story each time you played but the New Game Plus added more levels of difficulty against the enemies, making the experience just as difficult as it was previously, maybe even more so. You can play the game a lot of different ways and it is fun to experiment with. It’s somewhat cheap (less than 40 at least!) so I recommend picking it up. For the indie lovers, Hotline Miami cross buy on PS3/ PS Vita is excellent value. The game is PERFECT for Vita and it only costs 10 quid to get it on two platforms. What a bargain! Matt: I have started Just Cause 2, but I never got around to finishing it. It’s the same thing for me with Deus Ex; I never got to finish it. I have heard great things about both games, I just never found the time to play them. I also haven’t played Hotline Miami, but it’s on the top of my list at this point. Nathan: I finished Just Cause 2 just to collect all the weapons really! Deus Ex‘s story sucked me in and I replayed it a few times to get all the trophies. Still missing a few though! Matt: It seemed to have so much to do, but I just never got around to it. Deus Ex had some problems for me, but it has everything I want in a game: a good story with choices, and the fact that it’s sci-fi is an added bonus. Nathan: Another point I wanted to make. Does having a trophy system add to the value of a game for you? For me, 100% yes. It gives me a reason to play to game aside from doing missions or whatever. It’s like being given a digital checklist by the developers and it’s fun to try and beat them. Some can be outrageously difficult but sometimes, it’s worth the effort! Matt: If there is a big AAA title like GTA, then no, but if I am deciding between games and one has a trophy/achievement system and one doesn’t, it’s a no-brainer. I love trophy hunting, but it won’t always be something I check before a game unless I am debating between two games. Nathan : I hate games that have a “SEE ALL THE ENDINGS” trophy. That’s lame. YOU HEAR THAT DEUS EX?! LAME. Matt: It’s a cop out for replayability. *AHEM Heavy Rain AHEM* Nathan : So true. Although one of the trophies was interesting, it helped show you a new “evil” ending. I don’t want to ruin it, but it involves the Origami Killer getting away with it. Matt: It’s a cool way of adding trophies, but don’t add one that you have to play through the game SIX times to get. As a whole, though, I love trophies and trophy hunting, and it adds value to the game for me to go back to it later and try to get the platinum. That concludes this week’s Discussion Point. Let us know what you think determines the value of a video game in the comments section below.