Buying AAA Games At Launch Is Pointless Now

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  • While numerous AAA games are released every year, many are launched in a barebones and unpolished state.
  • Rapid discounts also mean that most games quickly lose their value.
  • Very few modern releases can justify the $70 asking price.
  • Therefore, I believe it is best to avoid buying games at launch today.

AAA gaming is in a bizarre position. On one hand, it has never been better, with 2023 showing exemplary releases like GOTY winner Baldur’s Gate 3, cinematic masterpiece Alan Wake 2, and the record-breaking Spider-Man 2.

However, for every great game that the industry puts out, I can recall many others that failed to hit the mark. Consider Naughty Dog’s terrible The Last of Us Part 1 PC port or Redfall from 2023.

Both games make a strong case for avoiding AAA games at launch. In my case, I strongly believe that AAA games should be skipped at release, with those who wait for discounts eventually having the best experience.

Why it matters: Games cost $70, making them more expensive than before. However, despite the new pricing standard, the quality has regressed compared to past releases.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
Cyberpunk 2077 Gained Recognition For All The Wrong Reasons In 2020

Launch Broken and Patch it Later

The concept of launching games in an unfinished state is quite a common practice nowadays, as we saw a massive incline toward this idea.

Games like Cyberpunk 2077, Battlefield 2042, Anthem, and more serve as the biggest examples of this trend. Either incomplete, just broken, or both, these games were heavily criticized for one reason or another.

Cyberpunk 2077 and No Man’s Sky are historical examples of recovering from a poor launch, yet those who spent their hard-earned cash on these releases had to wait years before the experience even came close to what was promised.

Even highly-praised games are no exception. A game like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor had infamous technical hitches, running poorly on consoles and PCs. However, a whole five months later, console performance was completely reworked for noticeably better results.

By then, the game had already been discounted. Therefore, not only did late adopters get the game cheaper, but they also got a better product for the price. Capcom’s Dragon’s Dogma 2 is yet another example of this trend.

Launching with poor performance, this RPG has left early adopters disappointed after their purchase.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown
Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Was Discounted Rather Quickly

Games Lose Value So Quickly

This brings me to my second point. New games might cost $70, but they rarely hold this value.

Initial price cuts often come within a month or two, rewarding the patient with enough leftover money to perhaps buy another AAA game in the seasonal sale or explore one of the many indie games across all platforms.

For example, Ubisoft’s Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora was discounted within two weeks of its release. Similarly, Skull and Bones went on sale shortly after its release, further explaining my point.

While one could argue that Ubisoft is the exception rather than the norm, I hardly see the point in buying a game at release if it will go through a price cut within a month or two at best.

Baldur's Gate 3
Larian Studios Exceeded All Expectations With Baldur’s Gate 3

Very Few Games Justify Their $70 Asking Price

Though $70 is the new AAA standard, very few publishers have been able to launch games that live up to this price.

Repetitive gameplay, bland mission structure, and recycled content are just a few problems plaguing modern AAA games. However, every once in a while, a game like Baldur’s Gate 3 or Alan Wake 2 comes along, changing the entire perception.

In such instances, it makes sense to support the developers. I was more than happy to go out and purchase Alan Wake 2 at launch last year, but when publishers are keen on releasing the likes of Suicide Squad for $70, I don’t see much of a point in becoming a part of these releases.

Last month, Suicide Squad ended up flopping despite years of promises and anticipation. When I see cheaper games like Palworld and Helldivers 2 succeeding while major $70 titles flop, this is all the proof I need that buying games on day one is no longer worth it.

In fact, I would argue it hasn’t been worth it for many years.

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