Buy to Not Play

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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.

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