DeltaGemini

Discussing the design and business of video games - www.darylh.com
Discussing the design and business of video games - www.darylh.com

Portable vs Price: Do I play The Outer Worlds on the bus or at my desk?

Illustration for article titled Portable vs Price: Do I play The Outer Worlds on the bus or at my desk?
Photo: DarylH.com (DarylH.com)

Crap. I’ve never played The Outer Worlds. I’m intrigued by it and it’s on my list of games to play. For a while, I assumed that when I got around to it I’d play in on PC with Xbox Game Pass because that’s just basically free, right?

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Thank you, Google Assistant
Thank you, Google Assistant
Screenshot: DarylH.com (DarylH.com)

Then Google decided to inform me of the above, that The Outer Worlds was coming to Switch. I love my new Switch, and so do 50 million other people. It means I can play Pokemon on my commute. I can also play Pokemon while my girlfriend watches TV. I can also play Pokemon sneakily under the table during meetings.

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So the choice is this, do I play it on my shiny new gaming PC in beautiful HD Ultra Graphics at 60FPS, or do I play it on the toilet?

Choices in (playing) games

There are 3 criteria I use when choosing which platform I’ll buy a game on:

  • Exclusivity. If it’s exclusive to a platform then I don’t have a choice, do I?
  • Cost. Usually, I’ll buy it where I can get it cheaper – probably PC.
  • Mods. If I can mod it, I’ll probably buy it on PC.

Before I built my PC I usually played on Xbox 360 and One, since it was what I had to hand and the controller is perfect. I still played on my work laptop when I could, but it wasn’t ideal.

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After I built my PC I was delighted to get access to my game library again. Humble Bundle has really expanded my library over the years and new games are usually cheaper on PC than on console. PC versions also allow mods, have better graphics (I’m running an RTX 2060) and more configuration options, and in many cases allow me to choose between keyboard or controller for desk or couch play.

Now Nintendo has thrown a Switch into the works

Nintendo got a new lease of life with the Switch
Screenshot: DarylH.com (DarylH.com)
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I love my Switch. I don’t get a lot of desk time at home, so the Switch is perfect for playing on a commute or when I’m sat in a waiting room. As such, it’s quickly become my primary play device.

Am I rebuying my PC library on Switch? Actually, sometimes, yeah. There are numerous games in my backlog that I simply don’t have a chance to sit down and play, but now I can. I’m not going to inundate my poor MicroSD card with every title I haven’t gotten around to, but for some of those smaller indie games or older titles, the Switch has become my go-to.

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For newer multiplatform titles, I’m not yet convinced though. Pick-up-and-play is tempting, but it comes at a somewhat higher price. For some games, and The Outer Worlds is the perfect example, the competition to the Switch might be Xbox Game Pass.

Rent, Don’t Buy

When you play a game from the Xbox Game Pass, unless you pay extra for it, you are instead paying a subscription to rent the game. You don’t own it, and either Microsoft or the publisher can remove it at any time – even halfway through your playthrough. This is a risk if you’re planning on diving into something long and deep. Who hasn’t been halfway through a show on Netflix only for it to disappear on the first of the month?

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Remember Blockbuster? This is modern Blockbuster.
Remember Blockbuster? This is modern Blockbuster.
Screenshot: DarylH.com (DarylH.com)

Microsoft has done a really smart job here by offering subscribers a discount to purchase the games, which would then presumably stay in your library even if the game is no longer available.

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“Are you enjoying Gears 5? Well, why not buy it to ensure you can keep enjoying it?” – No actual Microsoft employee.

Game Pass’ inexpensive price makes it almost like a demo service. Once you’ve paid for your month, you can try anything and everything at no extra cost for as long as you like. If you like it, buy it. If not, move on. This makes it especially enticing to me…

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That backlog isn’t going down, is it?

How many games have you bought that you’ve tried but not enjoyed? It might have been too slow in the beginning, or was buggy as hell and frustrating, or you really hated the protagonist. I’ve got so many games with only twenty minutes or an hour of playtime because I simply wasn’t engaged early enough to keep playing.

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Game Pass is a great way of avoiding the cost of this issue. You only have to pay for what you know you already like and you really want to keep.

So where should I play The Outer Worlds?

I didn’t know before I began writing this, and I don’t know now. But, I will try it on PC and then stop before I get too far to make the choice. Which means, in 2020, Xbox Game Pass could potentially be a marketing tool for the Nintendo Switch.

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Oh, crap

I didn’t see that coming before I started writing this
I didn’t see that coming before I started writing this
Screenshot: DarylH.com (DarylH.com)
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Hope you’re all ok over there.

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