Budget

Updating My Life

Young Bob Dylan via AllMusic

Sooner, rather than later, life catches up to you and does a wonderful thing: create less time. Time is always moving forward and never backward. Sure, you have a past; look at it, your past brought you to where you are today. Thank it. Cherish it. Know you are doing something right which brought you to your future, your present time. As the great Bob Dylan said: “the times, they are a-changin’.”

Hello everyone, welcome to an update about my life.

My last post was on February 15, 2015. I was fortunate enough to interview the great Jim Guthrie to discuss his masterpiece, Sword and Sworcery LP – The Ballad of the Space Babies, and his newest collaboration album with Solid Mas, One of These Days I’ll Get It Right. While this was my first interview, I do have one more that I have been keeping under wraps. I was able to interview an indie video game writer who is currently writing the story to one of my most anticipated games to come out (vague sentence is vague). Not only that, but I have a two panels from PAX South that I would like to share with the world since I am not able to find them online.

Correct Translation via GBATemp

Let it be known that my goal is to start writing again; I miss it, I need it, I want it. My itch to write is like a mosquito bite (rhyming and stealing). I will be honest, part of my dilemma to start writing about video games again revolves around my new job. I cannot say much about what I do, but I am having a blast.

The past couple months have been a blast with booked weekends with the family, my birthday celebration, a new computer and new console. Not only that, but I was able to beat a number of games that I wish to discuss as well. Since I love organization, let me break everything down in a chronological timeline.

The Snow Storm

It’s Tricky! via Game Rant

Texas is not known for its snowy weather. My first day at my new job was closed! The streets were so bad that nearly all of North Texas closed down because of icy roads and tons of accidents. Before I even started my job, I had a day off.

During this time, I was at home without any of my consoles; such a tragedy. Luckily, I had one form of entertainment: my phone. I decided to finish up a mobile game called Duet. This was no ordinary action game for touchscreen devices; it required memorization and cat-like reflexes. The player controls two colored orbs through mind-bending obstacles. The orbs could move clockwise or counterclockwise depending on the players fingers. Simple enough, right? Wrong! If one orb perishes, then the player must start over.

Duet At Its Core by Duet

This cringe-worthy, rinse-and-repeat game left a huge impression on me. Not only was it difficult, but Duet’s ending felt like an accomplishment instead of a hassle like many free-to-play mobile games. Who knew that two different colored orbs could make a game rise to the top and look down upon so many bad mobile games.

Obsession for Perfection

Hitman Go logo via Hitman

Within the month of March, I was able to beat four different games. On March 1, 2015, I perfected Hitman Go, a turn-based puzzle game, and beat Shadow of Mordor. Both games exceeded my expectations. Hitman Go was an easy video game to pick-up and play. However, perfecting every level was exhausting. I was able to get Hitman Go from the Humble Bundle Mobile Bundle for an incredible price, but I do not own an Android phone. Luckily, a little application called Andy helped me through this predicament by emulating the game on my computer. The best time to play this game was between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. because it was relaxing even when it frustrated me.

Rayman Legends via We Got This Covered

During the same time, I was working on another game in which I wanted perfection; Rayman Legends. On March 9, 2015, I was able to conquer Rayman Legends, but decided to stray away from perfection. Reason being that there was too much content for me to handle. This game not only had its normal levels, but it also had boss levels, re-imagined boss levels, a completely separate game and daily, online challenges; the sheer amount of content puts most games to shame.

Rayman Legends was taking up so much of my time, that I thought it would be better to focus on other video games. It is one of my favorite platforms to come out in years, and will reign as the best free video game Xbox One has handed out. Maybe one day I will return, and aim for that 100% goal.

Final Fantasy XV

Rawr! via Gamespot

On March 21, 2015, I beat one of my most anticipated game demos (yes, a freaking demo): Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae. Wow, just, wow. It is hard to describe. This incredible demo made me “giddy like a little schoolboy.” I anticipate the game will be even better than this little sneak peek, and it was worth the $60 (I am working on Final Fantasy Type 0, I swear). I do not want to go too much into detail about the demo since I would like to share my thoughts on it in a separate post. This phenomenon deserves an Early Impression. Look for it in the future.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Field of Dreams of Course via Giphy

I have some big news: I built my own gaming rig! It was an informative experience. One of my good buddy’s helped me put it all together and all of my friends helped me choose the most perfect parts. If you would like to see my build, check it out here: PCPartPicker.

I was really nervous when creating this beautiful PC. Reasons? Well, it was expensive. I am not the cheapest person in the world, but I want to make sure I buy everything for the right price. Sure enough, I was able to get a lot of my parts on sale. The most notable purchase was my 240GB solid state drive that I payed $100 for (talk about a crazy good deal at the perfect time).

I decided to go with a GeForce GTX 960 graphics card because I liked the price for its quality. I did a lot of research at Tom’s Hardware, Amazon reviews, Newegg reviews, and other benchmark websites to help me choose my incredible graphics card. I have never seen video games look this good before! My last computer was a MacMini (running Windows most of the time), so this was a huge upgrade.

If you would like to add me on Steam, my username is Lucky Lightford. I love to play Indies the most on my machine and will buy Grand Theft Auto V really soon.

A New Console

N64 Kid via Youtube

Not only did I build a computer, but on March 28, 2015, I decided to purchase a Playstation 4. Why would I do such a thing if I own too many consoles and a new computer? Well, the price. It was during a GameStop promotion where I was able to turn in my old Playstation 3 for a good amount of credit. My final price for the Playstation 4 was $142.14.

I will explain how it was possible in another post since it was a fascinating savings adventure. If you would like to add me on Playstation Network, my ID is Lucky_Lightford (I really hate the fact that I cannot have an actual space).

Thank You, Gosling via Teen

The Current

Currently, I am working 40 hours a week (unless you count the 48 hours I put in two weeks ago), playing tons of Bloodborne, watching an wonky show called iZombie, loving every second of Game of Thrones and living life to the fullest.

My dream is to write more on here, but I cannot keep those promises for the time being. My job is quite stressful and I will be moving out of my apartment in a month or so. However, I can promise that I will keep on gaming and think of more ideas for my blog. Let me leave you with this, a little of me playing Bloodborne.

The Future Of PAX South

The Beautiful Convention Center via 4Player Network

In case you did not know, I was born and raised in Texas. I was quite pleased to hear that the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) would finally make its way down South since Seattle, Boston and Melbourne are a little out-of-the-way. When PAX South was slated for San Antonio, it shocked me. There are numerous cities that could host PAX South, and I wish I knew the real truth behind the choosing of San Antonio.

I want to divulge from video games for one post to talk about a few positives and negatives for having PAX South in San Antonio, Texas. I will touch on different cities that could host this convention, why the size of the venue matters and price point for both PAX and attendees.

Badges Were Everywhere by PAX South

Registration Please

The numbers speak for themselves, according to IGN, PAX South beat out attendance records for first-year PAX shows in Boston and Melbourne. That is a big feat, but how big was it really? San Antonio papers and the news estimated that roughly 40,000 attendees came to experience PAX. I believe that most of the people who attended were from Texas, but I have no proof unless more numbers are released.

I remember when I bought my tickets from the PAX South website. I could not believe how reasonable the price was and had to snatch two tickets quickly. I decided to buy two 3-day passes which cost me $65 a piece; this would be my very first gaming convention and I thought I should attend the entire weekend. However, I do not believe many people were keen on the idea of having PAX South so far South.

Sold out? by PAX Prime

Usually, PAX tickets sell out immediately, but not here. PAX South tickets never sold out, which is unreal. The 3-day passes sold out, partially because it was the best deal. If you wanted to attend a specific day, it would cost you $30 for one day; still a reasonable price unless you had to buy one for each day. Before I left for PAX South, I noticed that Friday and Sunday were not sold out. How is that even possible?

I can understand why Friday took so long to sell out (I believe Friday sold out on Thursday before the event), since it is during the workweek and it was the day most people were either driving or flying to San Antonio. If that is the case, why did Sunday not sell out? The most notable Gearbox panel at PAX South was on Sunday, it was the final day of the Omegathon (a tournament that pits random attendees against each other playing the most random of games), and it hosted the second Q&A from Penny Arcade.

It boggles my mind to see how successful the convention was without it truly selling out. I think PAX South started off great with the attendance, but it does need some improvements. Reports are coming out that San Antonio will host PAX South until 2017.

Lines On Lines At Panels by mySA

Size Means Everything

PAX needed the perfect size shoe to make this convention fit. Did they find it in San Antonio, or are there others out there more suitable? San Antonio houses roughly 1.4 million people in its 465 square miles.

PAX South was held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention center that is 1,300,000 square feet. The convention center has four floors and navigation was simple enough (signs everywhere). Two of the four theatres they used as panels were too small (which is why I missed out on seeing Markiplier’s panel with Bob and Wade). I was not able to attend a panel in the Main Theatre, but I did get a chance to watch the Fraxis panel in the Falcon Theatre, which was pretty massive. The main expo was big enough to house the 120 exhibitors and the tabletop area was bigger than I expected it to be (people sure love tabletop games).

I want to compare San Antonio to a few other major cities and convention centers that could have hosted PAX South.

George R. Brown Convention Center via Library of Congress

Houston, Texas – George R. Brown Convention Center

Houston, Texas houses around 2.2 million people in 627 square miles. Houston is a little bigger than San Antonio, but not by much. The only thing I dislike about Houston is their traffic problems, but it can be overlooked for a convention of this magnitude.

PAX South would most likely be at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The convention center is 1,800,000 square feet, which makes it one of the largest convention centers in America. Based on the size of the town, PAX might have thought the town was too big and that it would be crowded. However, the bigger venue could have brought in more exhibitors and possibly, more attendees.

The Neal Kocurek Memorial Austin Convention Center via Levy Restaurants

Austin, Texas – The Neal Kocurek Memorial Austin Convention Center

Austin, Texas is much smaller compared to San Antonio. The city houses nearly 900,000 people in 271.8 square miles. Austin is very compact near the downtown area and houses the University of Texas and all 40,000 or so students.

The most notable convention center in Austin is the Neal Kocurek Memorial. This convention hosts South By Southwest (SXSW) every year, but is much smaller than most convention centers. The convention center encloses a total of 881,400 square feet. 40,510 square feet is dedicated to one of the largest ballrooms in Texas, which could be perfect for huge events at PAX. The main reason I could see Austin not being used for PAX is based on its small size and crowded downtown area. First and foremost, Austin is a college town. It already hosts SXSW, and PAX wanted to shake things up a bit since Austin already has a gaming convention (which is tiny compared to PAX).

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center via FaceBook

Dallas, Texas – Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and AT&T Stadium

Dallas, Texas is monstrous compared to most cities in Texas. Dallas is 385.8 square miles and houses around 1.25 million people. Even though Dallas is huge, it does not have as many people as San Antonio (which should be a plus).

There are two venues PAX could use: Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center (Dallas Convention Center) and AT&T Stadium (aka Jerrydome, the Death Star, or Cowboys Stadium). The Dallas Convention Center is over 2,000,000 square feet big and has a huge exhibit area, while the AT&T Stadium can fit over 105,000 people with standing room. The reason I bring up two venues is the fact that the main events/expo could be located at the Dallas Convention Center. Any PC gaming, the Omegathon or other huge panels could stay at AT&T Stadium. It is roughly a twenty minute drive from the convention center to the stadium, and imagine using the huge screen there. Playing video games at AT&T Stadium is by far, one of the coolest things.

It’s A-Me, Washington via Game Front

Where The Money Comes Into Play

A theory that I will touch on now is the money in the attendees pockets who attend PAX. One thing PAX had to consider were the flights to the convention. For many Texans, the drive is not so bad, but a drive from Boston or Seattle could be tiresome.

Based on data obtained by the United States Department of Transportation, the average airfare in 2014 (quarter 3) was $396.37, which sounds pricey when traveling for a convention (but what do I know?). I went to look at the average amounts for each city and their airports that sheds new light on the airfare price for attendees.

  • Tickets to Austin, Texas would roughly cost: $395.61
  • Tickets to Dallas, Texas would roughly cost: $425.89
  • Tickets to Houston, Texas would roughly cost: $450.07
  • Tickets to San Antonio, Texas would roughly cost: $407.11

Based on flights alone, it would have been cheaper for attendees to fly to Austin than any other major city. Flying is not the only expense attendees have. What do hotel prices look like?

Stylish Hyatt Hotel Room via Hyatt Regency Columbus

My next theory revolves around the average prices for hotels in each city. I looked around the convention centers and found rough averages of the price. Many PAX South attendees most-likely shared rooms. I decided to take one scenario and look at major hotels surrounding the venues I listed above. The search criteria was that one room would be occupied by four people for three days.

Austin is home of many motels and smaller hotel chains. On average, per-night, you are looking at spending roughly $200 for semi-decent places, and $100 for a motel room. If you want to stay in luxury, those can cost anywhere from $300-500.

Dallas can be a little pricer. The surrounding areas of the convention center and stadium house some of the nicest hotels (motels are not really located around here). On average, you are looking at spending $200-250 no matter the hotel. Much nicer hotels such as the Omni or Marriott are increasingly more expensive.

Houston’s price range is very similar to Dallas. The surrounding hotels would most likely cost around $250-300 in price with motels a little further from the convention center.

The Menger Hotel in San Antonio by Menger Hotel

San Antonio hotels had some of the best deals out of each city. I had a friend who booked his hotel, well in advance, and only paid $100. This hotel was within walking distance of the convention center. On average, many hotels around the convention center were priced around $100-150. If you wanted to be on the Riverwalk or next door to the convention center, it could cost upwards to $300 per-night.

If PAX was thinking of the attendees and how much they would have to shell out to attend, then yes, San Antonio might have been the best choice. It is hard to determine since I do not know how much the convention centers cost to occupy for huge events like this. However, PAX could have raised the prices if they were in a larger convention center (I thought the price point was really cheap compared to large events like this).

For my convenience, I would have liked PAX South in Dallas since I know the area and it is not that far from my home. I did not have a big problem with PAX South in San Antonio, but I truly believe PAX missed out on some larger opportunities based on location.

Mario, Where Am I? via rllmuk

Location, Location, Location

While attending PAX South, I noticed some Texas-based companies, but not as many as I would have liked. The largest company from Texas at PAX South was Gearbox. Many people might not know this, but Gearbox is located in Plano, Texas (which is right down the road from Dallas). Their presence at PAX South was monstrous. They had a specific play area where you could demo old-school video games, look at consoles that do not exist anymore and try to win prizes from participating in a drawing. They also had the biggest panel on the last day of PAX South where they talked about the re-release of Borderlands on the Xbox One and Playstation 4 (PS4). They were probably the biggest deal at PAX South.

The other company that started in Texas (they have since, moved away), was Stoic Studio. Stoic created The Banner Saga and are currently working on their sequel. Drew McGee, the head writer for The Banner Saga 2, was their to talk about their first game and speak vaguely about their next game (I was lucky enough to conduct an interview with him that I will be typing up later in a blog post).

Gearbox Office by Gearbox

Other noteable Texas-based companies were the lackluster Funimation booth (not a single voice actor was there), the over-popular Rooster Teeth booth (I admit, I love Red vs. Blue though), the Digital Devolver booth and an eye-opnening BioWare room (tons of panels were held and it was always packed). Funimation Production is located in Flowermound, Texas, which is a stone throw away from Dallas. Rooster Teeth, Digital Devolver and BioWare (Austin)  are based out of Austin, Texas.

I truly believe that if PAX chose a more inviting city that is easier for developers to get to, then we would have seen much more. In my opinion, Dallas would see tons more of booths, panels and games. id Software is located in the Dallas area and would have been an incredible experience for them to be there. 3D Realms is based in Garland, Texas and could easily make the trip.

One of my biggest disappointments was the fact that Blizzard did not attend PAX South (even though Twitch had a line of computers for people to play Hearthstone the entire time). The biggest news for MMOs was based on a free-to-play game called Guild Wars (I am not a big fan of MMOs not named Destiny), and not something from World of Warcraft. Blizzard has a location in Austin, but if PAX South wound up there or in Dallas, I believe they would have came out

Yes, For Real by Zombie Shop

The Fear Is Real

I fear that PAX could have done more. I fear that not enough people want to go to South Texas compared to the benefits in North Texas. I fear that it will be a long time until PAX South comes more North. I fear that PAX will grow exceptionally well further South. My fear is real, but what really shook me was the publics opinion.

I stayed with some family in San Antonio and none of them knew about the event. I invited my cousin to attend PAX South with me, and he had no idea about the event (Note: My cousin lives in Edinburg, Texas).  I was watching the late night news in San Antonio and there was no mention of PAX. Where were all the flashy signs, publicity and utter chaos that defines PAX? If you did not follow video games in South Texas, you may have never heard about this huge event.

Pokemon Never Ends via Photobucket

Conclusions

I cannot predict what will happen at the next PAX South. I hope that the news spreads about the next one so more companies, celebrities and people attend. I looked through comment sections from people who attended and most said it was “dull” and “lackluster.” While I do not want agree with them, I have to.  This was my very first gaming convention and I expected more.

I will say this, it was a great first show, but it has to be better. I wish I could afford to go to other gaming conventions to compare because PAX is something that is hard to put into words. I have hope for PAX South and will try to attend next year. An added bonus for attending PAX was this great picture with Markiplier!

Look, Markiplier!

Look, Markiplier!

Backlog, I Hate The Word

“Backlog. Backlog? I hate the word. As I hate hell, all procrastinators and thee.”

That’s right, I hate the word backlog. You can argue all you want about how everyone who owns a video game has a “backlog” of games that are still on their to-do list. I will destroy this word. Delete this word from your vocabulary, bleep out the word like raunchy comedies do on public television (Always Sunny in Philadelphia returns in January 2015!), or scream when someone utters this disgusting word.

It occurred to me in 2011 that I should keep track of how many video games I complete over the course of a year. Since then, I realized that the term “backlog” when used with video games is all intrusive. When anyone refers to their “backlog” of video games, I think of how much work and effort they are putting towards a huge list of games that must be completed. It is annoying hearing/reading about people who reveal that they have over 100 games that they just have to complete before they die. It is an unrealistic expectation unless you drop everything in your life and fully work on your “backlog.”

Now for the cliché: Wikipedia notes that “backlog” generally refers to an accumulation over time of work waiting to be done or orders to be fulfilled. I agree that the word itself can be involved with a gamer’s vocabulary, but I want to show you how to avoid thinking in those terms.

My Wallet Is Hurting

Your wallet can hurt if you focus too hard on your “backlog.” We are in 2014, but some gamers insist they have to play the original video games. They do not want to touch the Playstation Network or Nintendo eShop to buy a game that plays exactly like the original. Gamers would rather own the old Final Fantasy VII Playstation disc or Super Mario World RPG SNES cartridge instead of purchasing it digitally at a quarter of the price.

Run Simballet! via Cheezburger

Note: Currently, Final Fantasy VII is selling at roughly $150 new and $17 used while Super Mario RPG is nearly $400 new and $46 used.

I will admit that I went through a phase where I had to buy the rare original video game so I could play them later. For example, I rebought Final Fantasy VII on eBay for over $30 used a few years ago. More recently, I bought Xenosaga: Episode III for more than $40 on eBay since I wanted to complete the saga.

I Have To Beat This

When you work on your “backlog” of video games, do you say, “I have to beat this”, and if so, why? Why does this one game matter so much more than the hundreds that have come out over the course of a year that may interest you more? I understand that after you beat something in your “backlog” that it must feel great, but you did not have to beat it.

Dark Souls is hard via GTTMY

The worst way I look at this is when a gamer scratches a game off their “backlog,” and feels more excited when they see its ending. Are you more excited about beating the game itself or just happy to see another game off your “backlog” list? Further, there is always the chance that the gamer rushed through the dialogue or missed the entire climax in the story. There can be hundreds of factors that they missed because the only thing they focused on was completing this task.

At least, once a game is marked off their “backlog” list, they can start another.

How Long To Beat

Hours Well Spent? via NPC Comics

Time is of the essence when it comes to some gamers who want to complete their entire “backlog” list. How Long To Beat is a wonderful tool for gamers to find out how long it will take to beat the next game on their list. I like to use this website every once in a while to determine which game I should play next, but I do not limit myself to these times.

If you use this website, ask yourself: does it really matter? Do you care about the time you have to put in to your next video games? I have explained in one of my previous blog posts that “Time is Money,” but this may go too far. Gamers may rush through the game instead of experiencing the game how it is supposed to be experienced. For example, I started playing Final Fantasy X-2. This game will roughly take me 35 hours to complete since I will do some of the side missions as well. However, there is another part of the game that gamers may or may not touch: The Fiend Arena.

The Fiend Arena in Final Fantasy X-2 is an arena where your character can capture monsters called fiends, watch their Fiend Tale progress, manage their skills and powers, and fight in a battle arena. This is sort of like Pokémon, but it is more randomized when capturing fiends. This entire side story of the game is for fun. The story can progress without the added feature, but the interesting take on Fiend Tales can be important if you are interested in the lore of the game, extra missions, or new items.

Fiend Arena Art via Final Fantasy Wiki

To watch a Fiend’s Tale, you must level up your fiend to a high enough level and release it back into the wild. Once you do this, you will learn the history of the fiend and get a possible item or mission to complete within the game. This adds more to the Final Fantasy X-2 lore and only helps the player. The feature adds another depth to Final Fantasy X-2, but will those who have it on their “backlog” list even give it a try? I think not, since their goal is to finish the game in a certain amount of time.

Note: To learn more about the Fiend Arena, visit The Final Fantasy Wiki.

The Juggling Maneuver

Currently, I am playing Titanfall, Mega Man: Battle Network, Invisible, Inc., and Final Fantasy X-2. This may sound like a lot of games to go between, but I can handle them. I can remember what is going on in each game and make time for each one when I see fit. One day, I may feel like mindless, fast-paced killing and play Titanfall, and the next day, I may want to relax and lose myself in the story of Final Fantasy X-2.

Mr. Game & Watch Ball Game via GiantBomb

Juggling a bunch of video games can be hard. The only reason I do this is because I know I can take my time and experience the entire game. I do not want to burn out on one video game because I played it nonstop for a week. I like to dabble in different games to help break up the monotony.

If a gamer is too heavily invested in their “backlog,” they may focus too hard on a single game and lose interest. A role-playing video game could take hours and hours until it is completed. I remember putting in over 60 hours with Final Fantasy XIII and that took me nearly two years to complete. Focusing on one game could hurt you like I mentioned before, so it may be in your best interest to alternate between several games. Take a break from one video game, and then go play something else. Do not worry; the game will still be there for you when you return.

Let’s Focus On Completion

Here is what I do: I focus on how many games I complete in a given year. This is a great way for me to see how much time I dedicate to one of my favorite hobbies. I look forward to completing games and adding them to my list, so at the end of the year, I can either brag or wallow in my lack in gaming. It can also be a great identifier to see what game I might have dedicated a lot of my time to. For instance, with the March release of Titanfall, I saw a drop in completed games. I put a lot of effort and time into Titanfall and I did not want to touch any other game.

Now That’s Focus via Business In Focus

The other reason I like to keep this list is because it helps me to form a positive outlook on things. I would rather have the happy thought of all of my gaming accomplishments embedded in my brain than a sad, negative one of all those I have not completed. I am not saying all gamers look at their “backlog” as a negative, but I can see how some could. Gamers see a list of hundreds of games, so instead of looking at the positive experiences to come, they visualize the negative and see at least half the games as a hassle.

Video games should not become a chore, they should be played for fun. Remember, a game is just a game. It does not matter if you have a million games to play in your lifetime. As long as you are having fun, and look at the positive side of gaming, there is no reason to think that you have to play this or that. Take one game at a time, and keep track of them in a different way. Ignore the word “backlog,” erase it from your dictionary, keep track of your accomplishments, and have fun with your video games.

Make A List by See Sarah Eat

Inflation in the Video Game Industry

Money Rules All by Dust Cartridge

Video game prices rise with every new console generation. The used game market is at its greatest peak new innovative ways to save, spend and even credit gamers with more incentive to buy more video games. I have bought my fair share of old, rare video games and paid a pretty penny. I have sold video games that I sometimes regret, and even rebuy those games I have sold. I love budgeting for video games. After completing my research about the monetary value of video games from the past to present with inflation pricing, gamers are spending less than ever before.

Note: All of the inflation prices were done with an Inflation Calculator provided by the United States Department of Labor. Also, I was able to find an IGN article that stated the original prices for each video game console.

The 1980s

Mario is Made of Money via blueprint

The year was 1985. The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console was released for a staggering $199.99 in the United States. During the late 1980s, this amount of money was hard to come by for most families. Sure, owning a home was much cheaper back then, gasoline prices were barely higher than $1.00 and the economy was doing much better, but video games were still trying to find its stride. The NES helped push gaming to the next level using its 8-bit technology and Super Mario Bros.

The Super Mario Bros. video game was included with the NES console, which was an excellent deal since the prices for many new NES video games was between $29.99 and $49.99. These prices may not look too alarming compared to today, but with inflation, the price of video games in the 1980s was high. The NES console would cost $442.99 in 2014. That nearly lines up with the Xbox One and Playstation 4 (PS4). The NES video game prices are surprising though; a $29.99 video game in 1985 would cost $66.43 in 2014, while the $49.99 price tag would be $110.73 today. The $49.99 video game price is comparable to the ultra-super-rare-pre-order edition video game seen today (i.e. see Destiny Ghost Edition and its ridiculous prices on eBay).

The 1990s

Pick Your Poison via GAME

This decade had some of my best experiences when it comes to video games. I had two consoles in the early 1990s. My brother gave me his Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and my parents bought me the Sega Genesis.

The SNES came out in 1991 priced at $199.99 in the United States. Strangely enough, the console would be decently priced in 2014 at $349.97. That is much cheaper than today’s consoles and it had more games on it that I loved than I can count.

The Sega Genesis originally came out in 1989 and cost $189.99. There is a two year difference between the Sega Genesis and SNES, but that slight difference adds up. With inflation, from 1989 to 1991, the Sega Genesis increased in cost by $20 in that time. It is not that much of a price difference compared to the SNES, but it does look like the SNES would have been the better choice if I was looking to save money. Also, the Sega Genesis would be decently priced at $365.18 in 2014.

Take My Rings! via The Sonic Stadium

Besides console prices, the video games themselves were unreasonably priced in comparison. Video games cost roughly $49.99 to $59.99 during the 1990s for both the SNES and Sega Genesis. When I compared those prices to today, a $49.99 game back then would cost $87.48 now and a $59.99 game would cost $104.98. It was great that the consoles were so low, but the video games were so high that families could not afford them. My brother’s SNES video game collection was incredibly small and I only owned four or five Sega Genesis games in the lifetime of that console. The only way for me to play any new games back then was to rent them. If I remember correctly, it cost roughly $4 or $5 to rent a video game for 4 days; I made sure that within those 4 days, I played nonstop.

The Late 1990s

Atomic Purple GameBoy Color via Wikipedia

The next system I owned was the GameBoy color. It was my very first handheld console that provided hundreds of hours of entertainment. However, my GameBoy color was no ordinary color, I had the Atomic Purple variant; man, did it look sleek. This variant came out in 1998 and cost roughly $69.99. During that time, I could not imagine my family having that much money, so I was surprised when my parents bought me one. In 2014, with inflation, this handheld console would cost $102.34. That is fairly cheap compared to my Nintendo 3DS XL I bought last year for $199.99. The hardware is completely different, but both provide entertainment on-the-go, which is perfect for me.

The next console I would like to discuss is the Nintendo 64 (N64). After playing with the N64 at a friend’s house, I knew I had to have one. The only problem was that it cost $199.99 in 1996. In 2014, the N64 would cost $303.80, which is very reasonable compared to the Xbox One and PS4. The video games for the N64 were a little higher, being priced at $49.99. With inflation, a brand new N64 game would cost roughly $75.94 in 2014.

To my surprise (sometime between 2000 and 2001), my parents bought me an N64 with a copy of Tony Hawk Pro Skater. I could not believe my eyes when I saw it in the living room on Christmas Day. I was ecstatic since I had not owned a home console since the Sega Genesis. I felt like one of the cool kids on the block finally. Until I realized that I only owned maybe 8 video games for it. Like before, I rented most of my video games for the N64 since my family could not afford the $49.99 price tag.

The 2000s

Nintendo GameCube via Wikipedia

My next console was the Nintendo GameCube. The main reason I wanted this console was not solely based on its graphics (even though they were beautiful back then). I had to have the new Super Smash Bros. Within the first two years of the GameCube’s release, it was hard to find in stores. My mother explained to me that she luckily found one in a Target and picked it up for me since I was asking for it during Christmas. I knew my family was really poor at that time because of reasons I will not discuss, but she still managed to pick it up for me. In all honesty, I should really thank my mother for getting me into video games since it was her time and money. The GameCube came out in 2001 priced at $199.99. With inflation, it would only cost $269.15 today, which is incredibly cheap. The video games were still priced at the $49.99 price point which would cost roughly $67.28 today.

Another popular console that I still love today is my Xbox 360. I skipped the first Xbox because it did not have many games I cared about (except for Halo and Halo 2), but I wanted to start over fresh instead of sticking with Nintendo branded games. One of the reasons I wanted to purchase the Xbox 360 was because of Gears of War. When I saw the commercial below for the first time, I knew I had to have it.

The Xbox 360 was released in 2006 and priced at $399.99. That was an unfathomable amount of money for me to buy, so I waited for a better deal in 2007. If I remember correctly, there was a sale at Target where if you bought the Xbox 360, you receive a $100 gift card in return. My mother pitched in some of the money while I paid the rest; I told her to take the gift card, but I most likely used it on a couple new games at the time. Since I still bought the console at full-price, the Xbox 360 would cost $459.80 in today’s market with inflation, which is still cheaper than what I paid for my Xbox One last year.

It is worth noting that during this console generation, video games rose in price. I remember being upset about the $59.99 price point, but it is not all that unreasonable compared to today. With inflation from 2007, those brand new games should cost around $68.96 today.

Today

Which to choose via NOTR

Gamers can argue that the prices were better back then, but in reality, they were not. Based on the inflation of video games, it is better to buy video games now than ever before. The console prices are very close compared to its predecessors, but video games are still cheaper even if the game is used.

When I make an old, used, or rare video game purchase, I like to think how much money I actually saved. For example, I recently bought a used copy of Xenosaga III: Also sprach Zarathustra for $40.00 on eBay. I have been looking for this game for years and it is nearly impossible to find decently priced. The first two games in the series were easy to find, and much cheaper. Xenosaga III came out in 2006 for $49.99. With inflation, the game should cost roughly $59.10 today. However, based on its rarity and limited quantity, the game is worth over $100.00 new. As long as the game works, I believe finding it for $40.00 like I did is nearly a steal since it saved me $60.00 from buying a brand new copy.

The current price for a brand new video game is $59.99. Based on the facts I presented, this is the best time to buy video games compared to inflation. When looking at my income now, the price is substantially less compared to my youth and having no job at all. Also, consoles are nearly the same price as its predecessors before them, so I have no complaints there. Do I recommend buying all the video games? No. I recommend budgeting and checking out my older post where I discuss my Video Game Equation. There are tons of ways to save when purchasing video games, and I want everyone to know that gamers should not be shunned away by the pricing. Instead, cherish these times of cheap video games. The next generation of consoles could see the prices rising $10 again, which sounds ridiculous now, but may be in line with inflation.

ALL THE GAMES!

Time Is Money

Wario with Money while Ben Franklin sits idly by, from Minutebuzz

“Time is money.” Benjamin Franklin used this phrase in Advice to a Young Tradesman, Written by an Old One. This phrase rings true for everyone with or without jobs. People who work full- and part-time positions truly know the meaning of this phrase. No matter our hourly wage, we are doing one thing: using our valuable time to earn money. However, this phrase can also relate to video games purchases. It sounds improbable, but our time spent playing a video game is worth a significant part of our money. I want to show everyone how it is possible to budget video games with my equation: “Playtime is Money.”

The Equation

Purchase Price ÷ Hours of Game Content = Hourly Cost of Game

When you purchase a video game, do you ever think about how many hours of playtime you accumulate? For example, one of your favorite video games comes out and you purchase it the day it is released. The video game is priced at $60. You realize that it is within your budget and decide to purchase it. But, if you play your favorite video game for only 4 hours, was it worth it? In reality, you spent $15 per hour of playtime which sounds like you wasted a lot of your money for no playtime.

If you are wondering where all of the hours compiled for each video game come from, you can visit HowLongToBeat.com to search for the average playtime for all of your favorite games.

How It Work by HowLongToBeat.com

How It Work by HowLongToBeat.com

What if you knew the game was only 4 hours, would you have rented it instead? There are many questions that warrant you to either buy a video game or rent one. In some cases, it may be more fiscally responsible to rent a video game, but your options are limited. There are only a few renters currently, which include Gamefly and Redbox. Instead of buying a $60 video game, you could use a subscription service like Gamefly and spend $16 a month and save $44 with how much time you spent playing your favorite video game in the scenario above. You need to know that not every video game warrants a purchase. I want to break down a few different types of video games to show you how to estimate a fair price for a video game.

Action/Adventure

The Action/Adventure video game genre is very popular today. You may find that the story in these games are unpredictable when it pertains to how many hours it takes to beat one. However, many Action/Adventure video games encourage you to explore and collect an absurd amount of items that can greatly extend your playtime.

For example, The Legend of Zelda for the NES takes roughly 10 hours to complete. It is currently $5 on the Wii U eShop. If you were to play the game for 10 hours, you are paying $0.50 per hour of playtime. That is a great deal for this classic game. How about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time? Ocarina of Time is priced at $10 on the Wii U and roughly $35 on the 3DS. Both games take around 30 hours to beat, but the difference in price is substantial. Would you rather spend $0.34 an hour for the Wii U version or $1.17 an hour for the 3DS version?

The Legend of Zelda Series by CT

Another video game we can  look at is the new Tomb Raider that was released for all platforms. The main game plus side missions takes roughly 15 hours to complete. If you want to do everything in this game, like find the collectibles and complete every side mission, then it can take nearly 20 hours. The PC version of Tomb Raider goes on sale all the time and is currently $7.50. The main game plus side missions would cost you $0.50 per hour while completing every task would cost you $0.38 per hour of playtime. Those are incredible deals when you look at it from the perspective of the “Playtime is Money” equation.

The last game under Action/Adventure video games that we should examine is Watch Dogs. Currently, the game costs around $50 for both the PS4 and Xbox One. Watch Dogs can take around 18 hours to complete without touching any of the side quests. However, if you played the main game and completed the side quests, it could take up to 32 hours to complete. For only the main game, you are spending $2.78 per hour while doing many of the side missions will cost you $1.56. This game leans more toward renting for me since I am not into free-roaming worlds as massive as this.

First-Person Shooters

The next type of video game, and personally one of my favorites, is the First-Person Shooter (FPS). Many of the single-player campaigns in FPS video games feel like blatant copies of each other with different stories painted over them; your missions is this, you must accept, go kill this person/alien/terrorist/zombie/gangster/Nazi, now escape, rinse and repeat. I realize some people enjoy playing the single-player campaign more than the online multiplayer, but I am not one of them. The “Playtime is Money” equation can illuminate a massive difference in the worth of a game if you only play the single-player campaign compared to someone playing the virtually endless competitive multiplayer.

The first game I want to review is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. This was one of the last FPS video games that had a decent story. I believe this game helped start a trend of online competitive multiplayer video games that others have copied extensively (as well as copy itself with Call of Duty games releasing every year). Players could finish the single-player campaign in 7 hours. If you were to buy this game at launch, it would have cost you $60 which would set you back $8.57 per hour on gameplay; that sounds like a rentable title to me. However, this video game’s competitive multiplayer was very addicting, and many players put hundreds of hours into it. On average, some players played 30 hours online while other went upwards to 100 hours. Based on those numbers, if you put at least 37 hours into the game, it cost you $1.62 per hour of playtime while 100 hours cost you $0.60. I know I had over 100 hours in multiplayer alone, so this game was well worth the purchase.

Call of Duty 4 Sniper by Coolchaser

Titanfall is a new, online-only multiplayer game for the PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. If you do your research, you can buy this game for $40. Amazon has it listed for $39.96 and Xbox Gold digital deals had it listed for $39.99 last week. I have put over 80 hours into this game and I bought Titanfall for $60. In other words, I spent $1.34 per hour of playtime which has been worth every penny. I continue playing this game and will most likely not stop until the next big FPS video game comes out.

Role-Playing Games

Finally, the last type of video game that deserves mentioning is the infamous Role-Playing Game (RPG). RPGs are relentlessly long. They need to focus on their story and most of the gameplay takes time to master. Another reason for their length is that, oftentimes, there are RPGs that demand that you grind through character levels and go on ridiculous quests, while some have mini-games thrown in so you can earn special items and awards.

The first RPG I want to dive into is one of my favorites of all time, Final Fantasy VII. This game is massive and since the turn-based combat takes time, the game lasts for hours on end. The main story will take you roughly 39 to 40 hours to complete, but if you want to complete the entire game 100%, it could take upwards to nearly 100 hours. At the time of its release (1997), the game was around $40. If you bought the game at this price, completing only the main story would cost you around $1 per hour of playtime, while completing all the content it has to offer would cost you $0.40. In my opinion, this game is worth the expensive purchase. Luckily, you can go buy it on Steam for $12 or even less when they have it on sale.

The next RPG that deserves a mention is the entire Mass Effect franchise. There are three games within this expansive franchise. Each game was longer than the last and, in my opinion, better. The entire Mass Effect franchise can take you nearly 65 hours to beat. The good thing about these games were the side missions and multiplayer mode in Mass Effect 3 which could extend the playtime. If each game cost $60, you would shell out $180 for an entire franchise. Without the extra content, this franchise would cost you around $2.77 per hour of playtime. That seems like a reasonable deal to me.

Mass Effect Trilogy by The Classic Gamer

Rent or Buy?

There are tons of games out there that would be worth renting, especially with the newer generation of games. For example, the main story for Ryse on the Xbox One can take you 6 hours to beat. Is it worth paying $60 though? You are paying $10 per hour of playtime. Instead, you could rent this game and save nearly $50.

Another game that comes to mind is Murdered: Soul Suspect. This game received mixed reviews and was released on every console imaginable. The worst part thing about this game is its length. It takes roughly 6 and a half hours to beat the main story. The game was released at $60 and has now dropped to $15 through the Humble Store promotion that Humble Bundle is running from July 28 – August 1 on different Square Enix video games. Instead of wasting the same amount as Ryse, $10 per hour of playtime and $60 total, it would only be feasible to rent Murdered: Soul Suspect, or at least wait and buy it at a greatly discounted rate.

Humble Bundle featuring Square Enix video games by GameZone

Wait For It

When using this equation, ask yourself some questions:

  1. Do I need to own this game right now?
  2. Should I consider renting this instead since everyone is saying how short it is?
  3. Will it go on sale in a few months?
  4. Does it have multiplayer?
  5. Is it worth it?

There are too many video games on the market. Unless all you do is sit in front of your television or computer screen and play every video game ever released, it is pointless to justify buying a multitude of games. Instead, budget accordingly and base it on the time you have available to spend on gaming. If you work 40 hours a week, is it worth buying every game that comes out in the next few months?

There are 8 games that I want to play by the end of this year that are releasing too closely together. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on games I do not have time to play, I asked myself the questions above to help save me money. I wanted to purchase Alien: Isolation for the Xbox One, but it sounds like it will A.) be too short, B.) go on sale within a month or two and C.) release too close to other games I find more important like Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Sunset Overdrive and Destiny.

Your time is a valuable commodity; do not take it for granted. When looking at the “Playtime is Money” equation, be careful when budgeting. You do not want to be overburdened with video games, unable to complete any of them, while exciting new games are scheduled to be released right around the corner. Instead, rent a video game every now and then, wait for that single player game you want so bad to go on sale, and consider how much money you are really spending on video games.

Stacks on Stacks on Stacks by Supernova125