Gaming Budgets: Time vs. Cash

Every gamer has a gaming budget, even those with unlimited funds. Cash isn’t my problem, it’s time, or rather my lack of time.  As gamers get older, I imagine this will become the norm.

Gone are the days when I can game all weekend, or stay up until 3AM on a weeknight to get in one more turn. I’m older, have a “big girl” job and I’m a mother and wife. Those things eat at the hours and days. It’s not a complaint, it’s reality. I have only so much time to allocate to all the things I need to do, that gaming must (and should) come second to real life relationships.

I can make more money year after year. Even in hard times, the general trend is to make more money as one continues to move up the career path. If I am wise and lucky, I should have more disposable income over the years. But not time. That I can’t change. We all only get 24 hours a day.

So, I see new consoles coming out, such as the Nintendo 3DS, or peripherals (Microsoft Kinect) but I don’t see how I can afford to get them. There are already so many great  games that I would love to, but can’t find time to play, and play well, that I don’t see the sense in getting yet a new console or peripheral.

And since my budget is getting tighter and tighter, I want to make sure I LOVE the games I purchase. I used to think “Meh, if I get a game and I hate it, no biggie, something else will come along.” Now I don’t have time to not love a game that I am playing. Perceived quality over quantity.

This year my gaming budget consisted of: Dragons Age: Origins, Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy XIII, and Splinter Cell: Conviction. Games that I bought on the fly, that weren’t part of the budget were: Plants vs Zombies (PC and iPhone) Pokemon: HeartGold and Magic the Gathering: Online. For the first time I moved my gaming budget from where I wanted to, and have historically played (i.e. the Console) to where it was convenient for me to play (on my laptop, iPhone).

 I know that I’m not alone in this, yet many blogs, and news items seem to assume that gamers have enough time and money to spend on an unlimited number of games. As gamers age, our income will tend to increase, but our time budget for gaming will decrease. I wonder how this will change gaming habits, and how developers will react. More iPhone apps for gamers that have only a few minutes a day to squeeze in some play between giving the youngest a bath, and helping the eldest with homework? Or maybe this is why we see the rise of the sequel, the biggest games are sequels and reboots of existing franchises. Sell gamers on something they already know and love.

Have you seen your gaming habits change as your gaming budget slowed down? Have you switched from a cash gaming crunch to a time gaming crunch and vice versa?

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