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Published January 3, 2011

I dropped a massive amount of money on games in 2010. Maybe it’s because I signed on to my first real job in my life, or maybe it’s because it was just a damn good year for gaming. (The pricey launch for the Kinect didn’t help, either.) However, while I easily could have expanded my top five of the year to a top 20, around Thanksgiving, I began to have a personal epiphany. Maybe, instead of buying games the moment they came out, perhaps I could wait just a few months more and buy them for considerably cheaper prices. Maybe I could miss out on blockbusters like Call of Duty: Black Ops and Fallout: New Vegas without feeling a huge sense of remorse. Of course, you’re probably thinking that I sound a little obsessive already, but ask yourself if you’ve fallen for the “cult of the new” in the past. Haven’t you jumped the gun at least once or twice this year on games that are still sitting in their shrink-wrap?

In 2011, I don’t think I’ll have any problems spending less on video games. In fact, I’m making that a formal resolution. This is not to say that I won’t be tempted; this fall’s glut is a potential killer. But there were a few moments this year that really made me realize that I need to rethink my consumerism:

  • Amazon’s Black Friday sale (and subsequent Cyber Monday sale) offered huge discounts (33% or more) on games that in some cases had only been out for weeks. If you bought Fable III or Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood on their launch dates, you had to feel just a little foolish when you could get them later for $30 and $20 less, respectively. The lightning deals could go quickly, but anyone willing to watch the clock could easily reap the rewards. It certainly beat my previous Black Friday plan of waiting outside an Old Navy at 5 a.m. for Lego Rock Band.
  • It seemed like almost every major retail chain was holding a “buy two, get one free” or “buy one, get another for __% off” sale. Having drained my nerd funds on Christmas gifts this year, I couldn’t really take advantage of these, but you’d better believe that I’ll be more patient this year.
  • Easily the most impressive deals could be found on Steam over the past week or so. Major hits were being offered for $5 or $10 bucks a pop. Better still, I’ve already discovered tons of great PC indie games that I wouldn’t have even heard of otherwise thanks to those $5 indie packs. It’s a great time to be into PC gaming.
  • Don’t forget all of the Xbox Live Deals of the Week and pay-want-you-want charity drives, with the Humble Indie Bundle 2 leading the charge.
  • Oh yeah, and now that I’m an “adult” with “big life decisions” in the coming years, I can’t afford to continue being a childish, impulsive consumer whore.

I have no doubt that some of these sales were initiated because of the cruddy economy and struggling industry conditions. While there were huge grosses and a handful of success stories, there were seemingly more stories about huge layoffs and studios being closed entirely. However, even once the game biz bounces back, I expect that there will still be some huge deals for the patient gamer. There are so many channels from which to pick from — Steam, Xbox Live, Playstation Network, iTunes, standard retail, etc. — that eventually the right deals will come along.

I do feel some minor pangs of guilt about my new direction. For instance, I’m holding off on Lost in Shadow and Epic Mickey until they’re in the bargain bins, even when I know that their makers could use all the sales they can get. But it’s not my fault that the standard MSRP is ridiculously high. I’ll make exception along the way — LittleBigPlanet 2‘s collector pack will be mine on day one — but as much as I want to stay on the cutting edge, and as much as I want to steer our listeners towards the hottest new games, I cannot justify it to the same extent anymore.

As for what this means for you, the guy or gal listening to the show? Probably not that much. You may hear me sometimes looking backward rather than forward — get ready for my thrilling recounting of my Sims 3 family’s work schedule — but I don’t think you guys are tuning in for the latest news anyway. I just want to give game’s their full due, and holding myself to this resolution will allow me to do just that.

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