Every Game Purchase Is Based On Emotions

There’s lots (and I mean LOTS) of discussion about the impact of game price for sales. Some people are certain that if only games would cost 50% less, they would double the sales.

At some instances that might be true, but there’s just one tiny problem with this thinking: irrational thinking takes place when people buy games (or pretty much anything for that matter).

I know that’s a “slight” exaggeration, but if we start thinking about the fact how purchasing decision for games are made, we can quite clearly see that there’s no much sense.

In this article I try to bring out the idea, that even though you and I both could agree that we are pretty rational thinkers, that has little meaning in the end. We’ve just become pretty darn good at convincing us that we make rational decisions.

Let’s look at what takes place in the buying process, and if buying games makes any sense at all. With this article, I try to shed light on what we could know more about buyers, so that we can get more gamers to want to buy stuff from us. That’s pretty selfish reason – I admit – but everybody who wants to create game business out of his game passion needs to think about tricking gamers to buy from you getting people to support your game by making the purchase.

I’m not joking here (all the time). This is pretty good stuff, read on.

Here’s some questions one could ask before he thinks of buying a video game.

Could the money be used in better purposes?
Think about the last video game you purchased. Did you buy the game because it was cheap?

Did you think about the fact that the money could be spent in better way? (Or the fact that staring the bright lights on monitor and playing games can harm your eyes and isn’t exactly the best way to get fresh air).

In fact, there’s lots of reasons why somebody could be thinking NOT purchase ANY games. Here’s what some people (not me) are reasoning:

  • Games make you aggressive
  • Games are bad for your eyes
  • Games make you fat
  • Games are expensive
  • Games suck (you just gotta wonder why the heck these people keep PLAYING those games if games suck so much!)
  • Games are too short
  • Microsoft is evil
  • EA is evil
  • In fact, all game companies must be evil

And the list goes on from thinking about the fact that instead of buying a game you could donate to charity and save some child’s life.

Nevertheless, if we look at the list, we can see that there’s some truth in it. For example the violence aspect, it is true to some extent (check out my blog post: Violence in games makes us murderers).

Getting fat (or not losing it) can be true to some people. It might be a better option to be outdoors instead of playing games all day long. (If you don’t believe me, check the World of Warcraft episode on South Park series)

If you look at some big companies, then you might have seen them do some things people could consider evil (like firing lots of people). But that doesn’t make game companies evil in an absolute sense, but there can be truth behind those statements.

Reasons to buy games
On the other hand, there’s lots of reasons to buy video games:

  • They are fun
  • They are cheap (yes – some people say they are cheap)
  • Indie game companies need to be supported
  • Games can last for long (just compare with watching 2 hours long movie)
  • Games are challenging
  • Games keep kids out of streets from shooting other people (thus – they reduce violence)
  • You can learn languages
  • They keep your child busy so you don’t need to spend time parenting
  • And so on.

There’s lots of reasons to buy games. It makes sense you could say.

Is it rational?
Here’s the key point. None of those reasons are based solely on objective facts. While there’s some scientific evidence on them (and yes – some games are too long), that still doesn’t make a rational reason to buy games. Even if you have fun while playing games, it doesn’t mean it’s a rational decision to buy games.

In fact – if it’s about “having fun”, what more is that than something based on emotions? You feel the fun (you don’t “know that game is fun”, you feel it) and it’s those feelings and emotions that really makes us buy.

I mean, rationally thinking, wouldn’t it make more sense to save some child’s life by giving money to charity than purchase the latest video game?

We feel differently and hardly even think this type of comparison when we purchase games.

Yes, we purchase games because they are fun (and for some other reasons). While it’s true that price affects our decisions, ultimately it’s our feelings and emotions that really tell us what to buy.

And then some examples
I purchased Half-life 2 multiplayer game some months ago via Valve’s Steam. The reason I purchased it was so that I could test a zombie game mod. While there might have been some rational reasons (I keep saying “market research” to my wife), the purchase timing was completely irrational (I just bought the game as soon as I heard about the mod, without much thinking). And, I think there could have been other games to check out. Nevertheless, I made the purchase – and it wasn’t based on rational reasons. In the end I “felt like I really need to buy that game” (and the “so that I can test it” came after to rationalize the buying process).

Let’s take another example. Couple of years ago I bought Battle For Middle Earth strategy game. Rationally it made no sense (it was such a time eater that I suppose it theoretically cost me thousands of dollars to play that game – if I think about the time spent on playing). I bought the game because I wanted to play it, and the LOTR brand has such a positive image in my head (just read my past blog post about why people buy games) that I simply had to get the game.

Do you really think price was a factor? I could rationalize by saying it had… but that would be lying. In the end: it was the irrational feelings that got me in the buying mood.

What were you thinking when you made your latest game purchase?
Okay, it might happen that I just admit the fact that I buy games (and pretty much everything) based on emotions. Logically it doesn’t make sense, I admit that my logic is telling me “that’s not true”, but what the brain logically fails to see, doesn’t make it untrue. In my case: I admit that I buy stuff based on emotions no matter how much my brains try to persuade me and say I buy based on rational thinking. There might be some shreds of logic when I purchase something, but ultimately it’s the feelings that are in control.

Now, let’s get to you.

What do you think?

Has anything I’ve written here resonate in any level. Even though you are probably an intelligent individual, have you really put your logic under a serious scientific experiment? Have you really explored every tiny bit of feeling that you’ve had after making a purchase.

Think about the last time you purchased a game.

Was it a rational purchase? Was it because “price was so good”? Or was it because you assumed it is a good game? Could you have waited 30 days before making the purchase – or did you just had to get the game? Weren’t the old games enough fun to keep you playing them?

What were your reasons for doing the purchase? If you look carefully, do you think you really based the purchase on rational thinking, or could it been that you purchased the game for some hidden reason – and then justified it with logic?

Tell us.

Juuso Hietalahti