September 25, 2008

Do You Buy, Rent, or Trade?

These days, what with the Intertubes and all, gamers have at least three choices when it comes to obtaining new video games: they can rent, buy, or trade. The Goozex Report breaks down the options in an objective manner.

Buying
At $60 a pop, and the Holiday season approaching, fanatical gamers could easily spend hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars on brand new games. You can also buy cheap used games from stores like Gamestop, Overstock, and Amazon. However, you might have to wait up to a year to get the best deals, and buying every game you want brand new could send you to the poor house.

Renting
Gamefly will cost you $15.95 a month. That’s $192 a year. That roughly translates to three brand new games. However, you can only play one game at a time. If you want two games out at a time, it will cost you $22.95 a month ($275 a year). That roughly translates to 4.5 brand new games. Chances are, if you’re an avid gamer, you’ll play more than 5 games a year, but you’ll also want to play more than 2 games at a given time.

Trading
Goozex is free to join, and the money out of pocket is shipping and trade credits, and any initial points you want to purchase. Chances are pretty good that you already own some games that you can trade to earn more points. The problem with Goozex is that it can be painfully slow. It can be slow to trade your games and slow to receive games. And you’re at the mercy of your fellow gamers if they come through with shipping a game in good condition. The only real advantage is that you’re paying very little money. Goozex is for gamers with a lot of patience and they don’t mind playing games that are a couple years old.

Responses from Gamers
TGR conducted a short poll and received back two excellent responses from fellow gamers. The first gamer, THWIP71 shares his thoughts on why he mostly prefers to buy new or used games; but he’ll still occasionally rent a game.

By contrast, bgrundman prefers trading and renting games and only very rarely pays for them.

THWIP71 (Live Gamertag) Likes to Purchase New and Used Games
Basically, it boils down to three factors: initial length of single player campaign, replay value, and online play. Some games have enough of one, to compensate for a lack of the other two...but those are my primary criteria. Whether or not I pay retail for a game, is solely based on how long I've been waiting for it. Oblivion was a day-1 purchase, for the Special Edition box version; my wife and I played about 300 hours of Morrowind, and had been waiting 4 years for the sequel. We got AT LEAST that much gameplay out of Oblivion...including all of the expansions...so $70 was $$ well spent.

The Darkness is one I picked up for $8.00, used, after it'd been out for over a year. The online play was tacked on...and NOBODY plays it on LIVE...and there's not much replay value to the SP (according to reviews). I loved the game, but I'm glad I didn't rush out and drop $60 on it at release.

By comparison, SW:TFU will be a rental, for me, because it fails on ALL of my criteria, and isn't getting great reviews to boot. Plus, I'm not a HUGE Star Wars fan, beyond the first three original films (nostalgia of having been in grade school when they originally released, I guess).

Blake Grundman (Goozex: bgrundman) Prefers to Trade, Occasionally Rent, and Rarely Buys
A big factor to consider when choosing to buy, rent, or trade is how quickly you can play through a game. I, for one, tend to play through games at a blistering pace the first time through. Normally, the first run through is for two reasons: reviewing for
my site and reviewing for myself. If I find that I like the game, and it has a good replay value, I will keep it. However, if there is no replay value or the single player campaign is lackluster, I will relist it for trading. If the game is highly demanded, I can normally receive a game, play all the way through it, and have it back out by the end of the week. Under most circumstances, this normally nets me the same amount that I initially received for the trade, so all I had to pay for was shipping. I think that is more than a fair cost.

There are only two occasions that I ever rent a game. The first is when I feel the primal urges of my inner gamerscore whore. I can cop to the fact that I have rented games like TMNT, Avatar the Last Airbender, NBA 2K6, and College Hoops 2K6 just to increase my gamerscore. Games like this are normally a one-day rentaland under some circumstanceslike Avatar and the 2K basketball games, I had them returned in a matter of hours.

The other reason I rent a game is if it received mixed reviews from the media. Some of these games include Boom Blox, Assassins Creed, and NFL Tour. This one-night rental is used to decide if it is worth my effort to trade for the game or not.

Rarely, there are very few games that I will purchase. Exceptions to this rule are games that I have really been looking forward to like Halo 3 (which I waited in line in the snowy winters of Iowa for the midnight launch), Rock Band 2, Mass Effect, and the upcoming Gears of War 2.

Trading for games is a great way to get your hands on rare and Special Editions of games on the cheap. I would consider myself a collector of sorts and through Goozex I have been able to acquire the special editions of Unreal Tournament for PC, Assassins Creed, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Call of Duty, and the granddaddy of all: Halo 3 Legendary (cat helmet) Edition. The beautiful thing about it is, when I relisted the non-Special Editions of these games that I already owned, I would almost always recoup the value of the Special Editions.

Moral of the story is that trading is the key to success. After receiving 125 trades and sending out over 130 games, I am forever thankful that services like Goozex exist.