Why I Don't Buy New Video Games

Hi. My name is Jesse, and I used to be a video game junkie. I played 20+ hours a week, I bought at least 20 new games a year and I spent tons of money on computer upgrades to play them. I also spend loads of time reading on gaming technology on Armchairempire.com. I started out on some old-school stuff, a few old DOS BASIC games. Then I moved on to harder stuff like Wolfenstein and Transport Tycoon. Before I knew it, I had played more hours of Civilization than could be deemed healthy, trash-talked my way though several Counter-Strike clans and got up to 15 games a week of Starcraft. So how is it I stopped being interested in new games?

I think it started about the time that games stopped being fun. Yes, that’s right: I don’t think new games are very much fun anymore. EA, one of the biggest publishers in the industry, is too busy pushing out this year’s rehash of Madden or NBA Live to bother trying out something new. Every RTS tries to be the next Starcraft (and, to date, only Dawn of War succeeded), every shooter tries to be the next Half-Life and every strategy game wants to school Sid Meier and his Civilization franchise. Most of the online games require hours at a time to do anything meaningful in the game and cost $15/mo to boot. New games regularly hit you for $50 or more. Why should I cough up that many bones to either play a rehash of my old favorites or spend more time doing pointless busywork than being entertained?

I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of my beat-up NES than out of any of the new games I’ve played in the last three years. Consider that: some of these games are pushing 20 years old and they’re still more fun than most of the garbage showing off the PS3’s fancy graphics. Somewhere along the path of designing video games, publishers forgot that we like to have fun and developers are having a hard time getting their games out there as a result. Even some big-name talent is having trouble getting their wares out.

Game developers, wake up. There are those of us who have a list of demands you need to start meeting Real Soon Now(TM).

  • Bring down the prices. I don’t have a lot of time to play video games these days. Consequently, I feel like $40 or more on a game is a waste of my money considering how long it will take me to get a good return. Those of you making online games take notice too: I’m not paying $15/mo for maybe 10 hours of gameplay, and I sure as heck won’t drop $40 on buying an “expansion” to get the new content my subscription has already been paying for. I can’t even imagine what you Xbox 360 folks do with your $80 games.
  • Make games less time-intensive. One of the primary reasons I quit World of Warcraft is because I could never get anything done in-game without a good 3+ hour chunk to devote to it. I don’t have chunks of time that large. If I can’t find a stopping point after about 20-30 minutes, you’re demanding too much of me.
  • Less style, more substance. Repeat after me: graphics do not make a game fun. The GameCube has low-end graphics yet entertains me more than an Xbox ever could. I don’t find it fun to grab a game, throw it on my 3-year-old PC (which, honestly, is not that old considering I bought top-of-the-line) and find out that I need to drop hundreds of dollars on new parts to make it playable. Trying to distract me from the buggy code and mediocre gameplay with shiny objects just ticks me off.
  • Less rehashing. I don’t want to play endless sequels. If it’s going to be a sequel, make sure it departs enough from the original that I won’t be thinking “wow, I could have programmed this as an add-on for the old version.” Remember the several dozen releases of Street Fighter 2? That’s what we call a Bad Idea(TM).
  • Bring back old games. I miss a bunch of the old Koei strategy games that came out for the SNES. All they do now is concentrate on milking the Dynasty Warriors cash cow for all it’s worth. (See “rehashing”.) Publishers and developers would do well to dust off an old goodie, do some serious retooling and drop it back out in the market. If a new version of Aerobiz came out, I’d so buy it.

I’m tired of gaming shots being called by no-life dorks who spend more time playing games than going to work. The rest of us need to have a say too.

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11 Responses

  1. Katz says:

    i have a problem with World of Warcraft for the same reason. i have a kid. i can’t take 4 hours to run an instance that i probably won’t even finish because the group falls apart. that’s why none of my characters are past level 35. i still play because it’s the greatest way to waste time and it gives me something to talk to my hubby about. 🙂

  2. Jeremy says:


    I’m a junkie too. I couldn’t let go of World of Warcraft like you have but my wife and kids have done a good job keeping my involvement in that game to a minimum (late nights for an hour or so 2-3 times a week).

    New games stink. I haven’t bought one (other than the World of Warcraft expansion) for a very long time. I think you are right that the big game makers think we’ll keep throwing big money down on retreads of the crap they’ve been putting out for years. They’re wrong.

    Great post.

  3. Kristi says:

    I’m so glad the Wii has been outperforming the Xbox360. Why? NO ONE HAS THAT MUCH MONEY TO BLOW ON VIDEO GAMES! And if they do, there are much cooler things to spend it on. Like airline tickets. Bottom line, you’re right. Graphics don’t make up for the fun story lines of older games.

  4. Jesse says:

    I have to admit that I *really* want a Wii. Everyone I’ve talked to says it’s a load of fun and the lower price tag really appeals to me. Nintendo seems to be about the only company that understands how to make fun games anymore.

  5. Reach Upward says:

    My 13-year-old son bought his own Wii. We have added a couple of games. The system is very innovative. It’s very cool to see his friends (as well as our other kids’ friends) come in and spend time playing. They are captivated. It’s fully physical interactivity gets them up and moving. But they can turn it off after a while and do something else. My wife complains that the room smells of “teenage boys” afterward.

  6. Mike says:

    The only games I’ve been waiting for are sequels. Fable 2 looks good, and Knights of the Old Republic 3 might be good when they finally decide to get it out. Other than that I don’t look forward to anything coming out lately.

    Of course the facts that we don’t have any game systems in our home, and that I use a Mac would explain why I’m out of the gaming loop too.

  7. Sherpa says:

    I’ve got a game cube. Well, my best friend/roommate and I went in on one 3 years ago. I don’t play that often (I go for months) but I enjoy it. I like games with a story, I hate first person shooters, and like the open-ended strategy games. Civilization 3 is cool, but I’ve only played it a little. Sims is fun, but gets monotonous, I’ve played world of warcraft a few times–kind of lame.

  8. Jason says:

    Check it out! Your prayers to the Nintendo Gods were answered!

    Thursday, March 8, 2007 · Last updated 4:46 p.m. PT

    Nintendo guru wants more happy games


    In this photo provided by Nintendo of America, Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of ”Mario Brothers” and ”Donkey Kong,” discusses Nintendo Corp.’s creative vision at the Game Developer Conference, Thursday, March 8, 2007, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Nintendo of America, George Nikitin)
    SAN FRANCISCO — Video game developers should resist the temptation to produce only sequels of established hits and games based on horror and revenge, Nintendo Co.’s top designer said Thursday.

    Video game guru Shigeru Miyamoto said his industry’s reputation has suffered in the past decade. Designers have failed to deliver titles that bring joy to the widest possible spectrum of players, focusing too often on hard-core gamers and their lust for gore and realism, he said.

    “I always want that first reaction to be emotion, to be positive – to give a sense of satisfaction, glee,” Miyamoto told thousands of developers attending the annual Game Developer Conference here. “Certain obstacles may temporarily raise feelings of suspense, competition, even frustration. But we always want that final result, that final emotion, to be a positive one.”

    Miyamoto’s emphasis on plucky, fantastic, upbeat games contrasts with the slew of violent but popular games today – titles such as “Grand Theft Auto,” “Mortal Kombat” and “Resident Evil.” A growing number of politicians, educators and psychiatric experts cite studies linking violent games and aggressive behavior.

    Designers take Miyamoto’s lectures seriously. Time Magazine called him “the Stephen Spielberg of video games.”

    Miyamoto created titles such as “Mario Brothers,” “Donkey Kong” and “The Legend of Zelda.” Together, those titles have sold about 288 million copies.

    Miyamoto – an ambidextrous doodler who plays guitar and banjo – joined Nintendo in 1980 to work on coin-operated arcade games. He’s worked on every game console Nintendo has released over nearly three decades, including the popular Wii, which debuted last year.

    He also helped developed “Super Mario Galaxy,” an obstacle course-style game he previewed Thursday. It will come out later this year.

  9. Jesse says:

    You see? That’s what I’m talking about. Nintendo totally gets it. It’s no wonder the Wii is outselling the PS3 and Xbox 360.

  10. jeremy says:

    I agree with how expensive games and systems are these days. I have a PS2 but I bought it after it was out for about 2 years and I typically have 3 games at most. The only new version I buy each year is the college football game, and I didnt even buy it last year.

  11. Bobbie says:

    I wouldn’t mind a Wii. My sister and brother in law played with one at a friends house and the thought of making a video game more interactive is appealing.

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