How To Be An Informed Consumer

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Have you ever been really excited for a game and in the end you were really disappointed?  Then its time to start thinking like an informed consumer when it comes to your video games.  An informed consumer is someone who buys a product or watches content but is aware of the inner workings of the market that creates it.  By learning more about the market and business that creates the things you enjoy you can make better decisions when it comes to buying your next game.

When I was younger I would always be enthralled by video game marketing campaigns only at the end to be burned by a games quality.  After learning more about the gaming industry I slowly started to realize what I needed to look out for when new games were being released to make sure I wasn’t disappointed.  An informed consumer should always exercise caution with new games and research multiple perspectives before making a purchasing decision.

Don’t Believe the Hype

Marketing is there for you to purchase the game.  A marketing campaign is designed to intrigue you (and sometimes mislead you) into purchasing a game.  In fact a marketing campaign is supposed to highlight the most exciting and intriguing parts of a game to make you interested.  The problem is that marketing often does not reflect the game in its entirety.

The best way to approach marketing as an informed consumer is to be wary of its purpose and understand why its important.  Marketing builds excitement for a new game and can often give us a summary of new features or a general idea of what the game will entail.  Once you understand marketing as a tool to help inform you and pique your interest then you can use it to be more objective.  You should not base your purchases solely on marketing material.  You should always be looking for a second opinion.

Research, Research, Research

After you have seen the marketing material for a game you should then research its review scores.  Websites like IGN, Gamespot, or other smaller sites frequently post reviews for games on the same day they are released.  These sites have people who professionally review games and are informed on the gaming industry…but never trust only one source for an opinion.

Every review you read is somewhat bias.  Every human being brings with them their own experiences and view points when they express their opinions.  So make sure that when searching for reviews about new, or old games, that you always look at reviews from multiple sources.  A review score aggregator, like metacritic.com, can provide you with an overall score of a game over many websites which will give you an average score for your next potential purchase.

Knowing the Developers

The final part of research is understanding the game company and the people that are making the game.  This is where research can be a bit complicated but can also provide you with more insight on the game you want to purchase.  Each video game company has with it a track record for success.  For example, large and experienced gaming companies like Blizzard tend to create very polished and successful gaming experience.  When you purchase a Blizzard product you are often getting a high quality game (ex: Hearthstone, Overwatch, Diablo, etc).  Other companies like Capcom, have recently had games with lower then average quality (ex: Street Fighter V at release and Umbrella Corps)  When you know more about a company or a creator you get insight on the potential of a product and how likely it is to succeed.

If you are really trying to game on a budget then your most important asset is time.  Bigger and popular games tend to have game of the year editions which tend to give you all DLC for a highly reduced price.  Other titles tend to go on sale after a certain amount of time after their initial release.  Also, being aware of when most sales occur for gaming is important.  Winter Holiday sales, and also Summer Sales (if you are a Steam User) can be a paradise for those who wait to play big blockbuster titles.

It can be difficult to be objective with something you love.  As a passionate gamer it can be hard to wait and not play every new game that is released.  However, with new games being released every day it is important to understand the difference between a good game, and a game that is worth your time and money.  So remember don’t be swayed by marketing, always do your research, and know what company makes your game.  If all else fails then wait for a sale.  With this information I hope that you can be a more informed consumer and buy more games in the future.

This article was written by Ian Preschel. He can be found on Twitter @IanWhyNot and for more thoughts on video games check out @OKBeastNow.

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