Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Why buy Video Games?

I don't know, I think compiling my top 10 has rekindled my interest in video games. So much so that I actually went and pursued a snes emulator for the PC.

Needless to say, ZSNES is the best snes emulator and once downloaded I had an endless library of old SNES games available to download in a matter of seconds. Starting with Chrono Trigger, Secret of Manor and then Final Fantasy 3. Within a matter of minutes three of the best RPG's ever made had been restored by the ZSNES emulator - all pretty much identical to the console counterparts albeit with different controls. And better still, the hundreds of downloads available were all FREE.

The number of emulators available on the Internet now is very large. N64, Playstation and Saturn emulators are the most recent and can run on the more high powered PC's. After ZSNES, I tried an N64 emulator on the PC to see how the N64 games would come off. The PC was capable of running the most recent PC games, so I figured it should be able to manage N64 stuff.

Project 64 was the emulator of choice. Once downloaded, I needed a title to draw comparison with. Zelda - Ocarina of Time, was the game of choice. The download for this was naturally a little longer than the SNES Roms, running into a couple of minutes. Once downloaded and extracted the moment of truth had arrived.

I loaded the emulator and then began the game. The horse began to gallop and the gentle music began. Ocarina of Time was now running on the PC and seemed no different from the N64. With the game began, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the PC had no problems reproducing the 3d environments. The only thing I had noted was that textures weren't quite as detailed but this was only very slight. Overall, it was nearly a perfect coversion, with no slow-downs.

A conversion of Goldeneye, however was less impressive. Almost immediately it was apparent that the textures were less detailed. Although the 3d environments were reproduced well enough, pop-ups occurred and the faster-paced action of the game meant it was prone to slow downs. Sure, the game was playable but was a little short of a perfect conversion.

All in all though, the PC did a reasonable enough job at reproducing most N64 titles. Overcoming the few disadvantages of some of the graphical handling and controls you have yourself a library of hundreds of N64 titles available for nothing.

When the SNES was at its peak, games would go for (wait for it) up to £60. That is correct, £60 for a video game! The average price was around £30-40 with the more sought after games like Donkey Kong Country hitting the price peaks when newly released. Needless to say, an enquiry was later launched into Nintendo's pricing policies for this and they were found guilty of over-pricing there SNES titles in the UK. So, they were duly reduced to more like £20-30.

It made me wonder though, why bother buying these games when they are newly released and at their most expensive? Why not wait for the titles to become old so that they will be available cheaper or, better still, for nothing at all on a PC emulator. Granted you will still need a PC to run emulators, but the savings will surely add up in the long run.

The latest technology and games will always be expensive. And, many of the old games are often seen as better. So save yourself the money and download a few emulators to play the best games of all for nothing.


Matthew said...

Comments welcome.

alcazabedabra said...

Thanks for posting on my decrepit blog, I have pretty much given it up since my friend put me on his blog team. He's at jonaldsdwelling.blogspot.com

Warning; adult content!

Aaaanyway, I have a philosophy about pirating games.

I know something about programming in general, and the amount of effort put into games. Any game these days takes large teams of programmers, graphics artists, probably a physics buff or two to make the ragdoll effects just right...

A lot of thinking, a lot of effort, and a lot of creativity goes into games. Especially good games.

Stealing games that the manufacturers no longer market or sell is fine. The bulk of the profit they'll make has already been made, and you're just coming in late to check it out.

Companies probably like it when you play older titles of theirs, because every time you start it up, ping! Up goes their logo in your face. It's more advertisement for them when you play their ancient title and love it, discuss it with your friends, and swear to preorder the next sequel.

I'll pirate new titles, but if I play the game for more than, say, five hours, I must admit that I like the game. I go out and buy it at that point. Or, if an expansion comes out, I DON'T pirate the expansion, but buy it and add it to my pirated pilot.

One way or another, the game creators get some of my business if I feel they deserve it.

I've done this with Fable, Homeworld II, Descent III, Warcraft III, Diablo II, and a few others.

But I'm a PC gamer. Though it's fun to take a blast from the past and try the ZSNES emulator, or Project 64 (I came to the same conclusions you did), I primarily enjoy games made for the PC.

Especially the oldies.

Matthew said...

Thank you for that. Though I cannot agree with piracy, software emulation is perfectly legal. Some games are protected by the IDDE anyway.

PC games have their drawbacks, such as load times and a greater tendancy to crash than their console counterparts. Consoles for there part are also cheaper.

Perhaps you should reconsider putting some entries in your blog. Get around a bit, post on others and you might get an audience.

kim said...

The emulation of the system is legal (well, technically it depends if any license agreements were violated in gaining info about how to develop the emulator - but I digress). The pirating of games to run on those emulators is another deal entirely. There are some authors that have released their games with rights (check out the excellent 'Jumpman: Under Construction' for example), but many are still illegal to pirate.

As for the "why pay for the newest stuff", it's up to the individual. Depends on what kind of games you are into, where you'd like to play them, and what your pain threshold is, money-wise. I enjoy the retro-arcade stuff (until recently I had 4 arcade cabinets in my basement - emulators, shmemulators!) but also enjoy the cutting edge. I had no problem handing over my $50 to Valve to play Half-life 2. I thought they'd earned it and I enjoyed playing it. Could I have waited 2 years and got it for $20? Probably. I chose not to. Some consumers will choose to wait. That's the marvellous thing about free markets. Supply and demand will work it all out for us ;-)

Matthew said...

The sensible consumer might degres from paying large sums for a game. Or perhaps more importantly, the financially challenged might think twice before they part with 50-60 dollars/pounds for a game.

I suspect there is a 'feel good' factor about playing the latest stuff. Knowing you are playing the pinnacle of video games entertainment is a price worth paying for some.

We have seen however, that games have a tendancy to be overpriced. For those who want a good deal it might be better to wait.