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Free Games Are Bad Business

by on September 29, 2015
 

PSN+, Games With Gold, and Origin’s On The House are programs that gamers love. Everyone likes free stuff, but are free games doing more harm than good?

However these programs are hurting heavily discounted sales. No longer do I care about PSN+, XBL Gold Exclusive discounts, nor Steam Sales. For instance, Brothers was on sale during Steam’s Summer Sale for $2.99. That’s a fantastic price, and I wouldn’t mind paying $3 for it, but something tells me Brothers is going to be free on Games With Gold* at some point, so why spend the money on it? My backlog is huge, if I were to buy it, I wouldn’t even play it for some years, yes – years. By the time I’m ready to play it, it’ll either be on sale again, or it’ll be free on one of the aforementioned services.

When items are discounted, there’s usually an incentive to go out and buy that item right now because you’re getting an awesome deal. We’re wired to think deals mean we have to buy. However, with all of these free games being thrown at me, I no longer feel incentivized (wow, that is really a word), to spend money on sales. What I would usually pick up now to play later, I figure I’ll just wait and either buy later, play later, or get for free at some point and play whenever I want. But no matter how good of a deal, free is always a better than even $0.01.

While we all love free games, not everything is meant to be free. If you want free games, there’s plenty of Free To Play games on the market. And we all know how most Free To Play games are designed to eat money at the expense of a shallow ‘right now’ experience. If we keep demanding games for free, and keep waiting for a game to be free rather than heavily discounted, then we are telling the industry that we don’t care to pay for quality experiences. We want something right now, and free. If gaming dies, it’s our own fault.

*Article was originally completed on June 25, 2014. Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons was free on Games With Gold in February 2015. Am I a psychic?

Header image contains Heart by Okan Benn from the Noun Project, gamer by Hans Gerhard Meier from the Noun Project.