Why Buy A Video Game When You Can Just Watch It

In the ever evolving games industry, do you even need to buy a game in order to play it?

The gaming industry is now the biggest form of consumer entertainment on the planet today. This is a simple observable fact that can be seen when games like Grand Theft Auto 5 makes $800 million in one day, reaching the one billion dollar mark the day after. While this is extraordinary, it isn’t the only game to earn so much in such a short time, with each new release in the ongoing Call of Duty franchise earning $500 million in similar time frames.

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Gaming is such a phenomenon that more people than ever are desperate to create games, which often leads to oversaturation of the market with some good quality games falling through the cracks. Games that should be played and loved are instead outsold by games with a number two or three in their title. How do game publishers and developers compete? Many developers have now begun releasing extended game demos and trailers that often allow gamers to play a polished vertical slice of a game or show them 15 to 30 minutes of gameplay.

The era of gameplay videos by YouTubers has risen alongside the gaming industry and many publishers acknowledge this. Right now the most popular Youtuber “PewDiePie” or “Pewds” as he is also known has gameplay videos of The Evil Within on his channel, which has not even been released yet.

There are gamers who play games for gameplay that cannot be experienced through a video and there are those who play it solely for the story. Older games such as those in the Megaman series are built around quick and difficult twitch gaming that require serious gaming skills. Sure you can watch a YouTuber run through a few levels of this, but it will not be the same as playing it yourself. On the other hand, games such as the indie hit Gone Home focus more so on story, and once you’ve seen it, you’re most likely not going to return for a second stroll through the creepy house.

The point I’m trying to make is: in this new era of the gaming industry, do you even need to buy a game to play it?

That might sound like a question concerning piracy, but that is a topic for another day. What I mean is that most gamers are on a budget. These gamers have a limited wallet and limited amount of time. We can’t possibly play every game and there are too few hours in the day to do so.

Early gameplay footage and playthroughs are designed to build hype and conversation around a game, but it often does the exact opposite for me.  I am extremely excited for the release of Alien: Isolation on October 7th as I hope it can rectify the mistakes made by Aliens: Colonial Marines. In order to raise the excitement levels for this game, they have announced a slew of DLC and some gameplay videos, which I assume show off the survival horror aspects of the game. I say “assume” as I have refused to watch it. It has happened on several occasions whereby I spoil parts of the game for myself by watching every trailer and absorbing every screenshot to the point where I’m fed up of the game before it even comes out.

I have already mentioned “PewDiePie” in this article, and normally I would not watch his videos, but I couldn’t resist when I saw him upload early gameplay walkthroughs of South Park: The Stick of Truth.  I watched those videos and couldn’t contain my laughter. When the game came out, I played it and it was like watching an episode for the second time. I had already seen the jokes and heard the farts, so the beginning was almost ruined for me–through my own fault. After this, I still hadn’t learned my lesson and found myself taking in every bit of Watch_Dogs information I could find. I had repeated the process and the exact same thing happened – minus the farts and racism.

I am now taking a different approach where I try to avoid news on games I want to play because it benefited me in the case of Wolfenstein: The New Order. I knew nothing about that game and I thought it was going to be just another FPS with a generic story. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I fell in love with B.J. Blazkcowicz and his story, even though I went into the game with no clue what it was about other than “giant Nazi robot dogs” – that is not a typo.

How do you feel about this issue? Have you ever found that extended gameplay footage can ruin your experience?

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Simon Costelloe
From an early age I knew I was destined to not only play games in my parent's basement but to also write about them poorly. It is my sincere hope that one day I will achieve my dream and become "CEO of Games". I don't know if that position exists but it should. Please follow me on twitter @SicoShock for absolutely no reason as I am still learning how to use the "ol twitter machine".