Thursday, July 22, 2010

RPG Purchasing Habits: A Raised Bar

Like many of my peers, I suffer from Gamer ADD (aka Corvus Disorder, if you prefer). I’ve discussed this before, but it’s very hard for me to focus on just one game, and I already have more games lined up then I’ll ever get to play or run. I’m better than I was, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been left with a metric ton of games I want to use before 2012 comes and (circle one) the sun explodes/the earth explodes/the universe explodes/Nicolas Cage stars in another crappy movie/the Nephilim-Chupacabra-Arctic Nazi Axis proves Coast to Coast listeners right.

That, and the fact that I have less and less discretionary income as family needs seem to become more and more expensive, mean that in a lot of ways, the bar has been raised for what I’m willing to actually pay for in terms of RPG product. The idea of DIY or DIWEG (Do It With Existing Game)* becomes stronger, even as some truly amazing products are coming out the door.

This doesn’t mean I don’t spend anything on RPG product, but it does mean I find myself more and more selective with what I’ll buy. Multiple “core” rulebooks become a bit of a turnoff, with the “Collect all 10!” mentality being extremely so. Being able to view a solid review, sneak peek, or read through the book in a game store matters more than it once did.

I don’t know how many other gamers have this, due to the economy, getting older, or both, but I know I do. Basically, there’s more product out there than ever before, but I can’t keep up like I did. My dollar has to go farther than ever before. And whereas 5 years ago my RPG budget probably went 80/20 between RPG systems and accessories, today the split is likely 50/50 and going the other way. The reason? People keep making new toys and accessories for our gaming, and I’m thrilled with a number of RPGs I already own. The accessories can be used regardless of system, which makes them a better investment for me right now.

Of course, there are great games that I still pick up; most recently was ICONS, but I guarantee I’ll grab at least one other new RPG this year. It’s just a more competitive field, with more stringent requirements, than it was for me in 2004 or 2005.

This is still a young hobby, in a lot of ways; things are still being sorted out, different models tried. But some of the experimentation we may have gone with when younger has settled down somewhat into an expected framework as we learn (often by trial and error) just what we want out of a game.

So how about it? Have your gaming purchase habits changed as you get older or gained new responsibilities? If so, in what way?

*-RPGnet’s version, DIWW, (Do It With Wushu), is less welcome here.


DNAphil said...

A few years ago, I had to come to the realization that I would never have the time (and money) to play every game that interested me. So I started with the approach that I would only buy games that I am more than likely to run, and that I would not buy any accessory for a game, unless I was actually running the game (several sessions in).

Now, I do most of my RPG purchases at GenCon, and then spend the next 12 months reading the books. Doing this has: One, cut down my expenses, as I am making major purchases only once during the year. Two, it has helped my own Gamer ADD, by keeping me away from flirting from other games throughout the year (except for the ones that I purchased).

The other thing I do to keep my gaming costs under control is buy more PDF's than hard copy games. I will buy a PDF if I am curious about a game, and then later buy the hard copy if I am going to run the game.

As it stands, I am good for 1-3 new RPG's a year in hard copy. I am likely to only run 1-2 a year, if I can get a campaign going.

Tommy Brownell said...

Well, since I made the silly mistake of going back to school, my discretionary income has been shot. That said, I do a lot more reviews these days, and so I wind up with at least a lot more PDFs than I could otherwise afford, which is a nice perk.

Aaron said...

Actually, as I have become older, I treat RPGs more like literature than games. I haven't played regularly in more than three years, yet I'm always buying new games because they interest me on their own merits. Some of them (Road Rebels) I never had an intention of playing - ever. It was fun to read it, share it with others, and discuss it. Others (Dragon Age), I could see myself playing at some point, but again, the intention was to read, share and discuss.

I'm really more of an ex-gamer who has become a collector. It gives me insights into the evolution of the hobby that I wouldn't otherwise have, and interesting things to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

satyre said...

I've had to be a lot more critical of potential purchases of late - the games or products in question either have to grab me by the throat or are actually being played in six months.

That prevents the ADD/OCD mixture that powers many RPG purchasing choices at conventions or really good game shops. It's brutal if you can't say you'll definitely use something in that timeframe.

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