Surviving Steam Sales: Benefits of waiting to buy

I usually post on Wednesdays. Today’s Thursday. I hope you all managed to last through the agony of an extra day without my insights. I’m here today to talk a bit about patience.

I’m tackling the first world problem of having waited forever for Dragon Age: Inquisition to come out, then finding my PC isn’t powerful enough to run it. DA:I is my most anticipated game in as long as I can remember.

I actually realised my dilemma a few months ago and I started looking into getting a new PC. It’s about time for one anyway. Turns out my brother’s not using his old one (and it’s newer than mine) so he’s very generously giving it to me as a belated birthday present. I’ll be seeing family in a few weeks, so I may get it then, or maybe after Christmas.

So, yeah, as I said: first world problem. It’s made me more mindful of patience. For your benefit and mine, here are some tips and thoughts on the topic.

Now, you’ll see several of these points are around money, and the general focus is games, movies and so on – which is timely, really, with lots of holiday sales coming up – but as you become more patient in these realms, you may find your patience for other things increasing as well.

Hype is Deceptive

You can easily get wrapped up in the hype for games, movies and so on.

But you know what? When the thing is released and you don’t get it, or see it, the first little bit is hard, but then you can often forget about it. In a few weeks, everyone’s talking about some other new thing. There is always a new thing!

Sometimes the finished product is not as good as the hype. Often, even. Sometimes it is, though, but with that other new exciting thing on the horizon you’d rather save your money.

Even good games can be buggy at launch. Waiting can often mean your first experience with the product is in the form the developers truly intended.

Patience Pays Off

You know, I’ve bought heaps games when they just came out, super excited about them. I played some of them straight away for a decent amount of time. But some, which cost, say $80 at launch, I still haven’t really played and can now be picked up on Steam for $15 with all the DLC. I could have bought five such games with the same amount of money.

There’s even a subreddit for this sort of thing called /r/patientgamers

One of my best mates got into Steam recently during one of the sales. I was so happy for him. He picked up all of this for a song:

  • Fallout 3
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Dragon Age: Origins
  • Mass Effect
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Kingdoms of Amalur
  • The Witcher
  • The Witcher 2
  • And loads more
  • PLUS most of these came with all the DLC ever released

That’s hundreds and hundreds of dollars of games. I think he spent about $50.

So, next time you’re looking at something you really really need think about that last word. Is it need or want? And what will you get out having it right this instant? Is there some other thing that can fill that niche?

Here’s a check list next time you want to buy something (impulse or not):

  • Why do I want this right now?
  • Do I already have something that fills this niche?
  • Will I make the best use out of this now?
  • Last time I did this, was I satisfied after?
  • What else could I spend this money on?

I know this thought process has helped me and some friends of mine.

Sometimes you don’t even need to consider these questions – it’s one of the games that you’ve been saving for and interested in for over a year, like Dragon Age: Inquisition for me, and you are going to buy it no matter what. That’s okay, in moderation.

The problem is why every game is treated like the most anticipated must-have ever. Or when you just don’t even think about it, buy all the things as soon as you see them, and are surprised when the lights go out.

Discovering Hidden Gems

The point about “do I already have something that fills this niche” is worth singling out.

You’re buying Arkham City without finishing Arkham Asylum? No! Don’t do it. You have a perfectly good game there to go and play. Once you’ve finished that, then you can consider getting the next similar one.

This is true not just for sequels.

You haven’t played much of Assassin’s Creed IV but want Shadow of Mordor? Why? Nemesis system and better graphics? Okay, fine, but think first: why didn’t you play much of AC IV? Will that be likely to happen again with this new similar game?

When you feel the urge to buy something shiny and new, there’s often something you already own that was shiny and new once, but has since been neglected. Dust it off and get the enjoyment out of it that you so looked forward to when you bought it back then.

When looking for something similar you might rediscover a hidden gem in a completely different game, or movie or book or comic you own and get lost in that world and story instead.

Later on, the shiny new thing you want now will be cheaper or replaced by something better. And you’ve still had a good experience making use of something you already own.

So cheap. Such savings. Wow.

Avoid this. Humble Bundles and $1 or $5 or $10 games add up when you treat them like chips.

Oh, I’ll just have one. Or three. Five is my limit… today.

Before you know it you’ve spent a significant amount of money on a smattering of stuff that you may not have been so keen on, you just got them because they were ‘good value’.

It’s not good value if you pay for it and never use it.

A Note on Spoilers

Before we wrap out, one note about spoilers. One reason you might pressure yourself into getting a game or watching a movie immediately is to avoid spoilers.Fair enough, but there are ways to insulate yourself against these fairly well. Avoid that subreddit or hashtag for a while. When friends start talking about it, say you haven’t seen it yet. There are ways.

It’s just something to think about, as you may go through the list above and realise you don’t need the thing right now, but OMG NO SPOILERZ!! can override that. You don’t need to let it.

Open Chat

When has patience paid off for you? Have you gotten a great bargain because you waited? What are some things you do to help you be patient?


When Jarrod's not writing about personal development through pop-culture, he's helping people like you reach their goals through fun, empowering coaching.

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