Buy to Not Play


I’m thinking it’s time to consider one of the most popular and successful business models there is for games these days, Buy-to-Not-Play, aka B2NP. The thought’s been brought on because yesterday I finally bought Guild Wars 2, despite knowing that in all likelihood I won’t play it, or at least not to any great extent. That follows not long after I bought a few things in the Steam Winter Sale, also knowing full well that the chances of me getting around to actually playing them were rather slim.

Of course that is the advanced level of B2NP, where you buy something actually recognizing that it’s a B2NP title for you. The basic level, which I indulged in for a couple of years before attaining my present advanced status involves buying things while telling yourself that you most certainly will play the heck of out them, and then not playing them.

The basic level of B2NP leads first to a period of exhilaration and excitement during which you are thrilled with all the great games you bought, followed by a period of feeling harried and anxious as you attempt to make progress with some of them, then a period of regret, disillusionment and upset as you recognize that they were in fact B2NP purchases. Finally perhaps you come to an acceptance of the situation, and move on leaving regret and self-recrimination behind. It’s like the stages of grief I suppose: grief for your departed time and money, and the embarrassing stupidity that caused it.

The advanced level of B2NP is a much mellower affair by comparison. You can congratulate yourself on your wisdom in recognizing the B2NP nature of your purchases from the outset, and for making sure that you only paid the price appropriate to B2NP. (Generally 75% or more off the regular price is a pretty solid B2NP deal in my book.) You can then gaze fondly at your B2NP collection, and think: “Well, who knows maybe I will even play some of them someday! Just look at all the things I have ready against that possible post-apocalyptic future in which it’s impossible to acquire any more games!”

There is maybe a slight drawback in that at the advanced level you may have understandable concerns about the sanity of your behavior. But fear not, it is easy to come up with excellent economic and psychological arguments to explain why you aren’t actually insane, albeit you might just be a teensy bit less rational that you would like to think or than would be financially optimal. But that is ok, because after all you’re not a Vulcan, and so you can wear small departures from rationality as a proud badge of your humanity. Which as Star Trek TOS repeatedly proved is much better than merely being logical.

9 thoughts on “Buy to Not Play

  1. I am definitely a graduate of the advanced B2NP levels! *stares fondly at various simulators, and classic game variants on one’s Steam list*

    *proceeds to waste all available time playing modded Minecraft instead*

    But you know, there is still hope for at least 30 mins of trial time on a number of the B2NP titles! Someday!

  2. What’s happening is that games are falling into line with most other purchases. Vast numbers of us have shelves full of books we haven’t read, racks of DVDs we never found time to watch and CDs from which we haven’t even removed the shrink-wrap. It doesn’t stop at entertainment products either: wardrobes are full of clothes we will never wear and just check the statistics for the amount of food that’s bought and then thrown away.

    Consumer capitalism relies on a Buy But Don’t Use model. If we all restricted ourselves to buying only the things we use (let alone only the things we need to use) the economy would flatline. It’s just taken a while for the model to take hold in gaming, probably because its only lately that the longstanding pricing structure that made many games seem like a significant purchase has finally collapsed.

  3. Luckily for me I am a skinflint and my wife would kill me if I wasted money on games that were not used…indeed I got quite a way in Zelda Skyward Sword on Wii before breaking controller…have not the funds to replace to continue…wishing kids would grow up faster and start playing on wii, to warrant investing in a new controller for them! (honest!)

    • In my experience an exploration of a woman’s B2NW clothes and shoes collection can often provide good ammunition if you need to justify a B2NP game habit. 🙂

      However in the interests of marital bliss, possibly better not to mention it, unless you happen to be married to a Vulcan.

      • Hehehehehehehehehe… thanks for the hint. Will note it down and store it in a box marked with a big red button. 😀

        Though, i have to say that GW2 is one of the examples where BN2P fixed itself at some time. It was on my harddisc, untouched since launch, till winter 2014, when i suddenly dug it out and started playing it. It definitely won’t make it to my “best games ever” list, but if you treat it as small grinder and ignore the low quality of their storywriting it’s quite fun to play.

  4. Pingback: Link Dead Radio: Payment Problems | Healing the masses

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