301: Strapped for Cash

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Strapped for Cash

Gaming is an expensive hobby no matter where you live, but it's particularly pricey in Poland, where you need to be especially creative when it comes to finding ways to play.

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I know how it is, being part of the European market, but having much less income than most citizens of the other member countries. StarCraft2 was 1/4th of my monthly income at launch and it's not much cheaper now.

My personal experience of gaming in Poland is a bit different, though.

Hardware is clearly expensive (but that's not only with gaming, most high tech products have this problem).

Games, however, are often priced lower. This is true for PC games, at least.
Most pc games there have a more appropriate price. This is especially true for the ones which went between the hands of CD Projekt (which were already the main distributor/translator in Poland for games, before creating CD Prjekt RED and GOG.com).

Another thing I noted is that the "budget" market is much more present than in France, for example. You will easily find several categories of budget collections, of older games, in the shops, often for really ridiculous prices (I remember picking up a copy of Mafia, about 3 years ago, for like 10 pln (3 euros)).

But it's really a situation which depends on the game. I picked up Arkham Asylum for half the regular price or Chaos rising for 2/3, right after release, but Civ5 was priced fully on release.

In Israel a game is around 200-300 shekels, that's around 66$ - 75$(1 dollar is 3-4 shekels)

I got Portal for free on Steam, and I only had to wait 3 years for it! :D

I think I got a little inspired to stop buying everything off Steam. Unless it's a sale/deal, it's usually not cheap.

As a person living in the Netherlands himself, I barely made use of the UK. Something with the pound-euro currency just makes me less trustful against a nation who is in the EU but refuses to use the Euro.

At any rate, discipline/patience are truly the virtues you need to master.

I have to admit I've got a limit of about 5-10 for PC games, depending on how much I want it, I've once or twice slipped over that price, paying 15 for Fallout 3 GOTY from my local Tesco, because it was so cheap, fairly recently after it's release, and I think I paid 13 for GTA IV on Steam. Then this week I bought GTA IV Complete for 5 on Direct 2 Drive, because the DLC was still around 15-20!

However, while I've bought all of 2 games over 10, my Steam list is up to about 160 games, most of them bought for 1-3. Hell I've bought games I already bloody well OWN, just to not have to go get the cd out, install, put in a cd key, etc.

In the end, do I pay 35 for Black Ops, or 5 for Modern Warfare one, and 30 on ten other great if slightly older games?

On top of all that, I've never once had to fear 'hardware requirements'.

There's also the time/money equation, for all the WOW bashing, I get a huge amount of pleasure from my 9 a month and about 1 a month on new expansions.

Straying Bullet:
As a person living in the Netherlands himself, I barely made use of the UK. Something with the pound-euro currency just makes me less trustful against a nation who is in the EU but refuses to use the Euro.

At any rate, discipline/patience are truly the virtues you need to master.

Check out Zavvi, not that I intend to advertise, but they sure have good prices there - especially if you visit Nedgame often.

HaraDaya:
I think I got a little inspired to stop buying everything off Steam. Unless it's a sale/deal, it's usually not cheap.

Glad I've inspired you to look around :-)

I agree with what this guy has to say, but did anyone else find this article really depressing?

Gnoupi:
This is especially true for the ones which went between the hands of CD Projekt (which were already the main distributor/translator in Poland for games, before creating CD Prjekt RED and GOG.com).

Knowing this just makes me respect CD Projekt that much more - As a relatively wealthy American gamer, I think GOG.com is great because of its library/selection (with the price being a nice bonus). It's great to see that they're also helping to alleviate regional disparities in pricing that might prevent some from enjoying our hobby.

Great article, I really enjoyed it. Thanks!

Art Axiv:

Check out Zavvi, not that I intend to advertise, but they sure have good prices there - especially if you visit Nedgame often.

Holy shit, NFS: Hot Pursuit for €29,- @ Nedgame.

I checked your profile but you don't live here, surprising you pulled out this website out of the blue. At any rate, thank you and the first article contribute to ever respond. Thought I saw you on Forums as well.

Keep up the good work!

Straying Bullet:

Art Axiv:

Check out Zavvi, not that I intend to advertise, but they sure have good prices there - especially if you visit Nedgame often.

Holy shit, NFS: Hot Pursuit for €29,- @ Nedgame.

I checked your profile but you don't live here, surprising you pulled out this website out of the blue. At any rate, thank you and the first article contribute to ever respond. Thought I saw you on Forums as well.

Keep up the good work!

Always eager to help out, thanks for enjoying the article!

beema:
I agree with what this guy has to say, but did anyone else find this article really depressing?

Life ain't easy at times..

I really enjoyed the article. I've got to agree on a few points from the Pegasus and Russian cartridges to low salary/game price ratio.

Game purchase decisions (or more to the point - a decision between pirating or waiting 5 years for the price to drop) got much easier thanks to Steam sales. It feels good save at least some of your monthly salary after a single game purchase, and at the same time giving at least a little amount of money back to the developers. Oh yeah, and the whole "not breaking the law" thing too.

About the free to play titles - with the current situation in Poland it's difficult to wonder why there's so many Poles playing League of Legends.

Ah, the nostalgia. I owned a Commodore 64 and then a fake NES (not a Pegasus, though, so it felt even more fake).

DonTsetsi:
I know how it is, being part of the European market, but having much less income than most citizens of the other member countries. StarCraft2 was 1/4th of my monthly income at launch and it's not much cheaper now.

I think the only reason the price changes for you guys is because of currency exchange. It's still 60 USD here.

warps:
I really enjoyed the article. I've got to agree on a few points from the Pegasus and Russian cartridges to low salary/game price ratio.

Game purchase decisions (or more to the point - a decision between pirating or waiting 5 years for the price to drop) got much easier thanks to Steam sales. It feels good save at least some of your monthly salary after a single game purchase, and at the same time giving at least a little amount of money back to the developers. Oh yeah, and the whole "not breaking the law" thing too.

About the free to play titles - with the current situation in Poland it's difficult to wonder why there's so many Poles playing League of Legends.

I also play League of Legends. I go by the same callsign.

plugav:
Ah, the nostalgia. I owned a Commodore 64 and then a fake NES (not a Pegasus, though, so it felt even more fake).

Pegasus was a real brand of a KIRF. You can still buy those at flea markets in my city! It's almost like a time-traveling machine..

Well said. I think far too much emphasis is put on sucking money out of people in this industry. I am glad to hear there are more gamers like myself out there who are willing to scrounge through bargain bins and wait months or even years for a game to drop in price before getting it.

It's funny how the author mentioned spending more time trying to get a pirated game to run than playing it. While that may have been true in the late 90's/early 2000's, I've had more memories of having to crack DRM out of my games to make them playable.

I'm also not entirely sure that the police figure into anything. Granted I grew up in Ukraine, which isn't quite Poland, but piracy is pretty much treated as a secondary market in the slavic bloc, in other words it's legitimate in every way but in writing.

I feel like Steam (along with its bargain-providing competitors) are the greatest boon to "cheap" gaming in decades. Problem is, they also induce "volume" gaming, which leads to situations like mine - hundreds of games, dozens unplayed, bought for a couple of dollars apiece, for approximately the same monetary outlay as otherwise. It's rather troubling to look at a list of deals and realize that, horror of horrors, I have them all already.

This despite being unemployed and "strapped for cash."

In Brazil, when the PS3 was launched it was sold, I kid you not, for US$ 3500,00.

Yes, that's United States Dollars. No, I did not put an extra zero by accident.

The games? R$ 350,00, about US$ 170,00 at the time.

The average income at the time? R$ 800,00. About 380 US$. If you did the math, that means that you had to save for 10 months without paying for anything else to buy it.

So, when I say console gaming was a commodity here, I'm not just saying. Sure, that average income I brought up is sketchy, since it is an average. Brazil has a very large disparity in income, so most people are well under that figure thanks to a ridiculously rich minority.

This has became better over time, yes. But even today you can't buy a PS2 for less than the price of a Wii in the US.

Piracy isn't exactly the norm here, it is pretty much the only option. Thank Gods I'm a PC Gamer, so my games are actually affordable and PC hardware don't get so much of a pike in prices.

I don't know why you didn't mention Emulation. Sure, it is technically Piracy, but there's a massive gray area in the fact that you're "Pirating" games that the developers no longer make. At least, I assume they no longer make them. Developers may still lay claim to all copyrights over the material inside of the game, and they probably keep the data for each game safely tucked away in storage, but unless I'm mistaken, after a certain period of time, when a game is no longer selling mass copies, don't most developers finally put a halt to their production of these games, and whatever that may entail?

So, in other words, any copy of this no-longer-produced game that I find in the market or on the Internet would be Used, so the money that I'm shelling out is either going to GameStop or to some putz on Ebay. I doubt the Developers would see a cent either way, so why pay either of these two? Why not just get the game in ROM form, find an Emulator, and play to my heart's content?

To those who've played with Emulators for a long time, you know as well as anyone that any Developer willing to lay their claim can ban the circulation of a certain game. Despite this, several thousand games are in ROM form out there on the Internet, waiting to be played by the people who have long forgotten about them.

Disclaimer: This comment may run a little long. But as you can see from my join date and post count,I usually have something to add to a conversation(< this is a complete lie).

I liked learning a bit more about how the gaming is in the "east".I remember some good games and mods coming west for the Commodore 64 in the early 90s.All of those imports,for lack of a better word (It was the BBS days) prompted me to trade a Sega Genesis AKA Sega Mega Drive for a C64 in like 1991 or 92.That sega was new and I traded for a 2nd generation Commodore.(It is the model that looks like a C128,but isn't.)I had given my younger brother my old C64 and he had trashed it somehow.It was just easier to get another Sega than it was to find a 5-10 year old computer then.

I am primarily a wargamer,so I got a good deal.I was able to get old disks at yard sales and thrift stores in the 80s and early 90s.And over the old boards where sailed the pirates of the golden age of hacking.

Cracking games back then was a sport and people would time themselves and crack something that had already been done and passed around.When I got into it (early 80s),it had been going on for a while but hadn't hit full stride.It damned near ruined computer gaming because people stopped paying,period.The only games I ever cracked were already done,I was just learning how in case I ever had to.There were "how to" guides on opening up specific games and fiddling around with them.If you didn't care about cracking them and just wanted to play the stuff for free,you could put in a copy disk with pre-written programs to copy previously cracked games.I looked at Home of the Underdogs a few years ago and saw some of the old "Cracked By" animations from guys I "knew".(The Bandit, Eaglesoft, etc.)

The companies were wise to it from the start.(I'm sure some of their employees were cracking stuff...it was that widespread)The companies bright idea was to have the copy protect "words" from a rulebook.That is,the program would ask you "what is the 3rd word in the 4th paragraph on page 42" of the rules/story book that came with the game.-----People would just pass the "words" along or put them as an added file on the disk directory.

LOAD "$",8 For you old school gamers remember that you didn't need a ,1 (comma one) after the 8 because the directory ($) wasn't a specific program,it was just how you found all the programs on that side of the disk.

The words didn't stop piracy,and neither did any of the other tricks,although some of them made it a little foolish and maybe not worth the effort.A few people will remember these and I'll bet it drives fans of emulations crazy: I'm talking about making the storyline text outside of the view screen,in a booklet that came with the store bought version (and often a nice little map too).The screen would ask you to turn to a certain passage on some page of the book,and that would describe the encounter or the situation.This isn't like the Temple of Apshai where memory limitations made them describe the rooms in the book.This was all about making the game less fun for pirates.

SSI was very good at that.I'm thinking mainly because they had to pay TSR a boatload of money to use the Dungeons and Dragons name.I'm sure people still play them but I hope they have some version of the book and something to replace the little "Rune-wheel" or whatever in Pool of Radiance.This was a two piece cardboard thing with a rivet in the middle that let you spin a wheel and match up symbols to reveal the Pass Word.It was a lot like the Led Zeppelin album that did this(if that helps).

But that text thing was really only good for RPG's or something with a storyline and character/NPC interactions.Wargaming lacked that for the most part.One solution there was to make a cardboard map and maybe a few representative counters to "hold" the units onscreen,but any kid with some good geography skills or an atlas could get around that.Even if no map at all were shown onscreen,only grid coordinates that went with the map provided,you could make a map of the "NO GO" areas with graph paper.

All of this piracy doomed some companies back then and I am sorry to have contributed to it.I bought a good many games,but the reality was that if I thought getting it free was almost as good as paying for it,I'd copy it.There were times that I copied something and then went and bought it.But it was generally in the software store's version of a "remainder table" by then and cheaper than before.

When I saw the companies going down at the end of the 1980's and I was getting close to the age where I could be prosecuted as an adult, I had an epiphany and started paying for almost everything I got.That second C64 I traded for was old and unsupportd by that time(PCs ruled gaming by then).Most of the new stuff for it that I got came( for free,I didn't know who or how to pay)from Poland,Hungary,the Balkan countries and some of the other "Iron Curtain" countries, for whom I assumed a C64 was fairly high tech.If the language barrier wasn't a problem or could be translated,I would find some cool new stuff...very often with some "Cracked By" animations in a foriegn language.

The phone bills cost a bit though.I would get booted from the 10 cents per minute long distance plans all the time because I loopholed some international rates.Or I could call a fellow wargamer in an office somewhere in corporate America and we would conference call to a foreign board and copy down foreign C64 stuff.I'm talking a 45-50 year old COO of a corporation was helping me be an international software pirate.But other than all of that I kept my nose clean.And I only pirated the C64 stuff.

I'm thinking about doing it again though.I have a couple of games that I bought in the past 5 years or so that hate my DVD drive due to a secureROM not reading it.I'm specifically talking about Atari's Axis and Allies.I have it box and all and I know why it won't work.I also know where to get a NoCD crack of it.Hmmmm.*

* Atari never answers me and I have contacted them a few times,so I'm leaving piracy on the table for that one.

Again,sorry for the long post,but your article was interesting.I would like to learn more of how it was in those countries that I visited over the phonelines 20 years ago.

Woah! U$D 3500 for a PS3?! I live in Uruguay (it's just below Brazil), I think that here PS3 were U$D 1200 at launch and now they cost about U$D 600-800 (the 40GB to 120GB version). Games rarely go lower than U$D 80-60 even after years of thier respective launchs, as they are imported almost on-demand, it's uncommon for overstock to happen. A couple of years back I checked on a store in a mall (the most expensive option) and GTA:SA for PC was U$D 100, most of the rest of their stock shared that price or higher. Nowadays Most game stores focus on hardware for consoles or pc, game-specific hardware, like steering wheels, pedals, guitars and all the motion-sensing stuff for the Wii, Xbox360 and PS3 as this is much more profitable.

The only option to piracy I've encountered is either playing free(ware) games or catching on really low prices on steam or simmilars. Have in mind that though the average income is a bit better than in Brazil (we are a lot less and our society is comparatively less polaryzed in poor and rich) those prices I mentioned are just insane for the vast majority, if games were 40 bucks people (I included) would still think it twice, for many that would be like 10% of their salary or more (ironically those who work at malls wouldn't be able to buy an original copy even working 16 hours a day). Steam seems to be the best option but it will take a while to stick around here, specially if there's no enforcement of the almost-nonexistent copyright laws for software (a company must have physical presence in the country in order to make a claim about copyright infringement, only biggies with government contracts like Adobe and Microsoft care about this) and downloading or buying fakes is a much better option, and at this time is culturally accepted.

A console that costs half of the average salary, with games that cost a quarter of it? Ha! Here in Brazil we would kill to have that! A console costs around three times as much as the average salary! And a game costs half - if you're lucky! And you have to keep it in a cardboard box inside a lake! And you have to work four eight-hour shifts in a single day! Uphill both ways!

Ah. I've been waiting for this one for a while now and I'm glad someone is putting it out there. While I'm really tempted to go into a rant on piracy (and after deleting everything for the 3rd time) I think I'll just stick to the core topic of budget gaming. Steam is great for saving money on new games and old games (there are really no used game shops or game rental places here. It's pay full price or Farmville) because they often have special offers, weekend discounts, multi-purchase discounts and so on. You just have to check the store often and you might just get lucky to find something that really interests you.

There is also Good old Games - A great thing the guys at CD Projekt are doing: taking old games, updating them for current OS and hardware (and if you have a current gen PC and like playing some of your older titles, you know it's a real issue)and selling them for next to nothing. You can get even fairly new and very popular titles like UT2004 (and I would frankly call it a current gen game. It's better than most new FPSs anyway) for 10$ (actually everything in their catalogue is 10$ or less), and if you are an old PC gamer you just can't help but get a little nostalgic over some of the very very awesome titles they have on sale. They even have some free stuff (I got a blast from the past with Tyrian 2000, a game I loved back in the day when I was sporting a brand-new 200MHZ, 32mb RAM monster - and still greatly enjoyed today)

Also I really feel I must mention pretty much any and every game ever made by Blizzard for the PC. Over the years I've played pretty much everything they published and they always keep me busy for much, much longer than other games, be they as good as they may. I've spent literally years playing Diablo 1 and 2. I've played over 1200 SC2 matches so far (Not a lot, don't get me wrong, I'm just a lowly Gold league-er) and at an average of 15 minutes per match that comes down to some 300 hours of play and that's not even mentioning the very awesome single player campaign. Since it's not a monthly subscription like WoW, that makes it one of the most cost effective games I've played, especially since I don't find myself bored at all by it.

My friends and I had this weird system a while back, where we'd all agree on a set of games coming out in a given period, and we'd acquire one title each, then just swap until we've all played each game..

For those games you absolutely must have? The Birthday System.

I've come to wait for most games, period. I know I'm in the US, and games are relatively cheap, but with money getting tighter 60 bucks on a game gets harder and harder to justify.

I usually wait for GotY or similar titles at a break.

I'm a bit surprised that FPSs were passed over RPGs in terms of hours of gameplay vs. cost - but then I'm not necessarily into FPS multiplayer, so for me a single-player RPG has much greater hour potential than a single-player FPS. As far as DLC goes, resist, resist, resist, and check out reviews first.

I also feel like it's much easier to do PC gaming on a budget than consoles, once you have the actual platform bought. Mods, greater variety in the online market....

Steam sales are the best way I have found to save money. Even if you have a crap computer the indie games that sell cheap will most likely play and give you a good time.

Scrythe:
My friends and I had this weird system a while back, where we'd all agree on a set of games coming out in a given period, and we'd acquire one title each, then just swap until we've all played each game..

For those games you absolutely must have? The Birthday System.

My friends and I did that (when everybody had a ps2) but with this generation some people have a 360, few people have a ps3, and there are very few of us who buy games as soon as they launch anyway.

The main reason I wait now isn't so much to save money but to get the game at it's prime. I'll probably wait until Skyrim goty to buy it but not to save money on DLC: to save the frustration of playing a completely broken game for 6 months.

I've been buying games on this model for years. Steam helps a bunch with their ridiculously deep discounts too. I just picked up both BioShocks for $5 each. sure I'm a couple years late, but I saved $50. plus, the hardware you need to run the games gets much cheaper with time too, so you can enjoy a higher quality experience than you would otherwise.

danhere:
I got Portal for free on Steam, and I only had to wait 3 years for it! :D

Hahaha, same as!

In all seriousness though I'm fine with waiting for a game to drop in price. There are exceptions where I really need to get the game right away (generally when I've been following it for a while). Most recent will be Pokemon Black which I'll get full price as soon as I can. Really though if I can't wait I tend to hunt in bargain bins cuz nothing feels better than having an awesome time with a game that you got a great deal on.

Scrythe:
My friends and I had this weird system a while back, where we'd all agree on a set of games coming out in a given period, and we'd acquire one title each, then just swap until we've all played each game..

For those games you absolutely must have? The Birthday System.

Nice. I, however, am in the sad boat of being interested in games that my friends aren't interested in. Oh well.

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