The Daily Grind: Do you game on a budget?

    
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Last week, a friend of mine made an offhand comment about how much something dear to her cost, joking that it wouldn’t seem like a lot of money to a lot of folks but it did to her. Except… it did seem like a lot of money to me too! I don’t think most bloggers are exactly swimming in pools lined in gold (although if you are, invite me to your next pool party, would you). My hobbies are on a set “fun budget,” and that includes MMOs and other games. And even if my family’s income suddenly and spontaneously quadrupled, that wouldn’t change.

Do you game on a budget? Or do you buy all the games and in-game upgrades you want as soon as they are available? If you’re comfortable sharing, how much do you drop on MMOs in a given month, and is that significantly more or less than in the past?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Neurotic

Very much so. One monthly sub at a time (usually WoW), and if that’s too much for that month’s budget, I’m F2P until the next month. Because I freelance, income varies quite wildly. On a good month, the kids might get some in-game currency for their games while I sub or go VIP in my games. We were doing great for a couple of years there, but I lost a major client in 2018 so now we’re counting our pennies, both real and virtual. :D

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Tim Anderson

Not really. I’m not a whale, but I’ve also strategically placed myself in a position where my hobby is what I also do for a living, therefore things like games and hardware can be purchased as a tax write off.

I did the same thing in my previous career. I love travel, so I positioned myself into a career where I was able to write off all things related to travel: tickets, hotels, camera gear, drones, tours, restaurants, etc. As a full-time travel writer and photographer/videographer for a decade, I was able to travel the world with my wife and have the vast majority of our adventures be “free”.

But even before I transitioned into game development as a career, I have always typically spent anywhere from 1200 – 1500 a year on gaming per year, not counting hardware costs. In other words, I play a shitload of games, and I pay a lot of monthly subscriptions.

Right now, for example: I’m paying for a LOTRO sub, an EQ2 sub, I just bought Anthem, and I’m going to pick up the Division II, both within a 30-day span. I don’t wait for them to go on discount; I just buy what I think looks fun and I play it. But it’s also a write off since I’m buying and playing for a variety of reasons that fall into R&D categories.

Other times I get things on discount, but it all just depends. In December Playstation had a holiday disount so I was able to pick up Shadows of War, Spiderman, and AC: Odyssea for under 80 dollars for the trio: that was a good six weeks of entertainment for 80 bucks.

I also have a very strategic manner of living, which I mentioned in another post elsewhere on this board. I’ve pursued the digital nomad existence for over a decade, so I purposefully pick cities/places where I can live with a low cost of living.

I currently live in Mexico City where, for example, as a permanent resident I have free universal healthcare, the rent is low, cost of living is low (example: an Uber from my home to the airport is 30-40 minutes and about 8 dollars, whereas when I fly up to Austin the same distance costs me 60 dollars), and my wife and I are frugal people. We don’t waste money on things like Starbucks, we don’t need a vehicle (we live in a city with regular public transportation), and etc.

Which means I have a decent amount of disposable income as our cost of living is extremely low in comparison to people living in the U.S.

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Bruno Brito

Yes. All the time.

I don’t think people realize how harsh life is on Brazil right now. The cost to live in my town is high, the winnings are low, our money is worth not much, and imports are on an all time high.

So, when i asked a good friend to help me with upgrading my PC, she said a old VGA would be around 750 Reais, something around 250 dollars. Which is a lot since we don’t receive 3x what an average american does, but we pay 3x what they pay, considering our taxation.

An OLD one. Something like 3 years ago. It’s a huge issue. When i feel like paying a sub game, i have to consider the conversion price. TSW was 29 euros, beyond 100 reais. 15 bucks for the “starter pack” on AoC Saga of Blood was literally 60 reais for me.

I’m playing ESO right now and even considering buying a xpac, or upgrading my pc for a better playing experience is a exercise in frustration.

And then, we get people that talk how the 800 fired employees from Acti-Blizzard were underperforming, and how Bobby Kotick gets his paycheck because he earned.

Fuck that shit. There are days where i don’t even fucking eat so i can save some money to go to my classes, or i have to diminish quite a lot of what i eat to withstand the week.

Maybe i actually should consider eating the rich.

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Fenrir Wolf

Do I game on a budget? Not always. Do I game in a budgeted way? Almost always. I’m very careful about where my money goes, and when. Being part of a niche demographic tends to grant me more available funds as very few titles are designed chiefly with the likes of me and mine in mind.

That said… I will support a game, though I’ll only rarely buy boosts as I don’t want to support that kind of behaviour. I prefer showing my appreciation for the creations effort went into. If there’s a dry spell of that, though, and I want to support whichever games I’ve become enamoured with, I may nab some, now and then. It’s all a matter of being responsible with money.

And that means I have the money to distribute on what means most to me when the opportunity occurs. This is, I believe, the way of the responsible whale. I don’t think that being a whale is an inherently negative factor (why is profitability ever a bad thing, hm?), but I think that there can be a degree of responsibility to be owned by doing so.

I have, shall we say, disposable income. I allot that to whomsoever deserves it the most. And if a targeted appeal at my particular niche is made, then… gosh, kapitalist-kun, aren’t you just sweet enough to deserve this large wad of dosh I’ve been saving for a rainy day?

So, it depends. It varies on how catered to I feel I am. I’m not the entitled sort who’d make demands whilst contributing nothing and complaining about those evil whales (you know who you are), but I am inclined to be shrewd with my finances and value those who value me. A good whale has self-respect.

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

Sorta? Like many people responded I have a time budget. I’ve found that I can only play one game at a time. I (mostly) stopped buying single player games over 15 years ago. The few I did like Wasteland 2(or was it 3?) and Torment: Tides of Numeria are still sitting on my shelf. I know better now.

I’m paid very well and can easily afford to burn money on extras but I avoid that as much as possible. Games are not a charity. They only deserve money when they provide continual value to me.

I have a very Darwinian attitude towards for-profit entities: If they’re not competent they deserve to die. I will never ever throw cash at a commercial entity to “support” them. Every struggling game I’ve seen did so because the studio behind them did something wrong. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a game that died because of lack of awareness. Quite the opposite in fact. Gamers are very aware of what’s out there.

Very occasionally I’ll buy cosmetics but only if the price is reasonable (<$10), the item is an account unlock, and any usage charge must be trivial or non-existent. I will buy utility unlocks under similar circumstances. If a game has a required sub or makes playing without one too painful then my interest in throwing money at a cash shop plummets. Screw your double dipping.

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Fenrir Wolf

I’m fascinated by how we share the same methodology, yet based on vastly different motivations. I’d happily be the cash-cow who’d sate the needs of those who falter, festooning them with what wealth I have available to me so long as I feel their passion is true, and my presence is valued. I have a tolerance for mistakes, though even I’m not particular to exploitation and abuse. Prithee, is a project not worth preserving if it does something that’s meaningful to you, even if it doesn’t achieve its goal immaculately?

Then, one might wonder, what is the definition of incompetence here? How is this defined? Perhaps this is simply your definition of my perspective that tires of a company that fails to value those who pay, over those who play? That’s a form of incompetence that I’m leery of. There are far too many developers who place undue import upon the number of connections to their servers, rather than the amount of money coming in. I’ve seen so many fall prey to that unseemly fate. It’s disappointing, to say the least.

Ultimately, I wonder — though different in wording — whether our approach is much the same. And yet, at the same time, I’m dubious due to your distaste for pricy roleplaying accoutrements. Though perhaps you mean not that, but instead fancy armours that glitter, glisten, gleam, and glimmer enough to blind one with their… ahem… scintillating radiance. Yes, let’s call it that. Sparkleraiders.

So many questions!

(I have never been above editing for the purpose of furthering alliteration.)

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

I was getting wordy so I cut out some of the detail :D

MMO’s are an enterprise class service. I have yet to see a studio that’s managed to launch with what felt like a reasonably scalable architecture much less keep the whole thing functioning continuously.

A lot of this has to do with the gaming industry’s deathgrip on Not-Invented-Here syndrome. They desperately need to hire folks that know how to design and operate these features. It’s something that’s been a solved problem for decades in the financial and telecom sectors. Yet studios consistently refuse to look outside of their insular labor pool.

Regressions are another common problem. At best those should be extremely rare yet the games industry acts like source code control and release management are vile hellspawn taint. (b-b-but the Most Holy Scripture of Agile says documentation is baaaaaad).

Then there’s ego. If your players do something unexpected and not exploitative with your content that’s a good thing. Developers that try to force customers to play they way they intend is an excellent way to not have many players left. Obviously a balance needs to be struck between emergent play and fairness.

Case in point: SW:TOR used to be this wonderfully alt-friendly game. It’s done a complete 180 and is one of the most alt-hostile games out there.

Relen
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Relen

I just live without money. And without games at all.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

I don’t buy enough games to have a budget. Once or twice per year I’ll blow up to $200 on some game plus expansion packs, or if a Star Citizen ship sale happens to coincide with a drinking holiday. Even that is pretty recent behavior, and not something I would call a habit.

As an MMO gamer who came to it through MU’s, the cost-to-benefit ratio for my gaming habit has been huge. I certainly get more use out of my games than the neighbor does out of his boat, at a tiny fraction of the cost.

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Anton Mochalin

Right now on budget, a year ago I was buying everything I wished but still waited for Steam sales.

However I would never consider paying a monthly subscription for any game even when my level of income could more than afford several $15/mo subscriptions. I would even say online games should always be f2p but I still bought some of them (paid the full price for Battleborn+season pass!)

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Fisty

I just wish I’d bought more lifetime subs.

Veldan
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Veldan

I never needed to limit myself because the more money a game demands, the less interesting it becomes to me. I want to play for my ingame stuff, not pay for it with real life money. I’m happy to buy any game or expansion and pay any sub, and I always spend some money in F2P games that I love, but mainly to support the game, never because I’m tempted to spend lots.