Value Gaming

By Jonathan Barnes, 8 years ago
I enjoy a nice glass of wine now and then… not when gaming, mind you (that’s when coffee and energy drinks rule), but a good glass of vino is right up my alley on many an evening. Last year, my fiancé, myself and our best friends vacationed to Northern California’s wine region and spent the week tasting and buying wine. During this trip, we came to realize that most wine is very good in Napa Valley, but began to think, “Is this wine $40/$60/$80/$100 good?” Since the space in our shipping crate was limited, we had to make some hard decisions based on value. We passed on many bottles of wine because, even though they were good, they weren’t “$60 Good”.

I’ve come to find that this logic can also apply to games. A few weeks ago, I was in search of a “cheap game” to play over the weekend while my fiancé was out of town. I stumbled across Brutal Legend, recalled thinking the opening cut scene was hilarious, that it got solid reviews, and (most importantly) it was $20. I picked it up without hesitation, brought it home, and fired it up.

Over the course of the weekend, I found the game to be incredible. While I agree with many of the reviews (story is great, it’s hilariously funny, but the gameplay is lacking), I felt it was an AMAZING value at $20. At $20, my expectations and investment were low enough that I didn’t feel like I was missing out if certain elements of the game were not exactly “shiny”. On the flip side, if I would have bought the game at launch and paid the (standard) $59.99 for it, I most certainly would have been somewhat disappointed.

This idea of “value gaming” led me back to my last “$20 Discovery”, the original Fable. Back in late 2005, I was shopping with a few friends and stumbled across Fable in a value bin of a local retailer. One of my friends, a fellow gamer, told me that he’d heard good things about the game, so I plunked down my $20 and immediately fell in love with Albion. In the later months, I read a lot about how the game was “disappointing when measured against its pre-release hype”. Having not heard that hype, and not paid full retail price, I was able to set aside expectations attached to my monetary investment, and just enjoy the game.

I’ve also had similar experiences with’s Video Game “Deal of the Day” where I’ve found AAA titles for discount rates. These games also carry the low financial expectations and provide a bigger upside for value fun.

So, fellow gamers, what are your thoughts? Has there been a game that you’ve purchased that you found to be great fun for the money or perhaps the opposite; a game that you bought at full price and enjoyed, but would have enjoyed more if it were priced lower?
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.