The $500 Computer Game

I am not a huge video game player, but I really do like turn-based strategy games.  I was very excited when a new game,Civilization 5, came out about a month ago .  I bought the game, got home with it and found out that my computer was too old to play it.

I bought my computer in April of 2007, which replaced a very old model that had gotten me through University.   At the time it was a top-of-the-line custom-built model put together by a local company, but now for computer games it is essentially obsolete.  It seems like a waste to replace a computer that does everything that I want it to do, other than playing games (even though it’s a game I would really like to play).   I returned the game the next day for a refund, as I hadn’t opened it before comparing the system requirements to what was inside my computer.  If I wanted to play the game, it would cost around $500 to upgrade which seems pricey for just a game.

I think most electronics work this way – with the rate of change seen something that’s top of the line this month pales in comparison to the next generation technology that comes out.  I have a relative who continues to buy televisions every 8-12 months in the search for the next biggest and best models.  They are always shopping and constantly feeling buyer’s remorse comparing what’s hanging on their wall now and what they could have bought now.

Personally (over the past couple of years), I’ve taken to waiting and being satisfied with the spending decisions I have made.  With the computer game example, I may have to wait a few years to play it, but I will eventually have a computer with enough power, and by then the game will probably cost about 50% less than it does now.  With video games, I wait for a year or two after they come out and buy them at 1/3 of the original cost – this works well for me right now because I really don’t have a ton of time to play and have “fallen behind” on games that I normally would have played as they came out.

With electronics, I’m more willing to be a generation or so behind.  My television is around 7 years old, a 36-inch widescreen tubed monstrosity that weighs approximately 80 lbs and has been a pain to move the 3 times it was needed.  I’d like something newer, but the one I own is working fine and it seems like a waste of money that could be spent somewhere else.

One thing that I do get excited for and will buy new in the first week are books, especially books that I know my public library will either not get, such as Jacob Fisker’s “Early Retirement Extreme — A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Financial Independence “ or the newest book in a fantasy series that I have been for over a year to come out (The Wheel of Time if anyone’s interested – I’d highly recommend the series if you’re into that sort of thing).  These things I won’t wait for, but amount to only 3 or 4 purchases a year.

Do you go for the cool toys?  Are you constantly upgrading your gadgets to get the newest or best?  Do you have any “policies” on these type of purchases?

13 thoughts on “The $500 Computer Game”

  1. Why don’t you just buy a new video card? If your machine is from 2007 then I assume it’s at least a dual core. Throw a little ATI 5750 in there that you can grab off of ncix.com for fairly cheap, heck even an NVidia GTS250 is under a hundred bucks and will play most games just fine, unless you have high resolution requirements. I don’t understand how a machine that new couldn’t play a game that has a minimum requirement of an on board video card.

    I’m pretty sure my kids machine would play Civ V and it’s from 2004, with a new-ish video card (ATI 3650). That machine I just upgraded this year to a fairly new i3 based machine (with a dedicated video card), and it works fine and probably will for years to come.

    I’m still trying to buy a camera though, that’s the one thing that I really like to have something that’s nice quality. I was pretty excited when the Olympus E-P1 came out, and then the E-P2, and E-PL1, and the whole Panasonic series that go along with them . . . and I’m still trying to save up the cash to drop on one.

  2. DLM, generally you can rent electronics, but it would probably be far cheaper just to buy it on financing, and sell it once you’re done paying for it and buy a new one.

    For instance Easy Home currently has a 52″ Samsung 1080P LCD TV for $35 per week. If you were to keep that for two years it would be $3640. Though Future Shop has a 55″ Samsung that is kind of similar on sale right now for 1600 bucks. Even if you put that on a credit card at 20% your monthly payments (with tax included) would only be 95 bucks a month, or a total of 2280. Plus if you sold it for just 15% of that amount at the end you would recoup 350 bucks at the end to put toward the next TV that you were waiting for.

  3. They probably won’t get it on their own initiative, but some libraries have an online form where you can request them to buy books they don’t have in their system. This works especially well, if you’re a regular “customer”.

  4. I agree with Traciatim your computer will almost certainly run Civ V on minimum to medium settings unless you have a very large high resolution monitor. An upgrade of your video card might be a wise choice ATI (now AMD) is supposed to be coming out with it’s mid level Radeon HD 6xxx series within the next month which is supposed to be quite a bit more powerful then even the 5xxx series that occupies the same price segment right now. Waiting 1-2 months you could possibly get a price cut 5xxx card or a new 6xxx card at the same price you’d get the 5xxx now.

    (breaths) Sorry I love tech even if I only upgrade once every 2-5 years.

    On the topic of books I also love the WoT books, my library has the abillity to put in a request for a book they don’t have this includes upcoming books i usually put in my request 1-2 months before it comes out this way they get it in very close to the publish date and I am often the first to read it. Have you also read the Song of Ice and Fire books? If not they are very much worth the read.

  5. Oh, the WoT books lost me along the way… made it to book 8 I think. Song of Ice and Fire is the pinnacle of modern fantasy these days, no doubt. HBO thinks so too… they are adapting it for TV.

    Regarding electronics, I fear I must possess the latest and greatest video game console… I’m still a somewhat avid gamer at 38.

  6. Civ V is gonna be awesome, though I too will have to wait until the next computer upgrade before I can play it. Until then, Civ Revolution ($5 on my ipod) will have to do.

  7. @ Traciatim, Brett: Thanks for the tips, I’ll look into this.

    @ Jon Snow: Most of the early ones I listened to as audiobooks (up til the last 2) – maybe I was missing the slow parts.

    @ Mcmatterson – I’ll have to check out Civ Revolution for my iPod.

  8. I’m still playing CivNet (circa 1992 or 93)… still works fine under Vista provided you keep that one display DLL from Windows 3.11. Only disappointment is that max window size of CivNet is significantly less than my 2560×1600 monitor.

  9. Ultimately, this is why I bought a PS3. It doesn’t have every game, nor the one you are interested in but it has plenty of alternatives, and is a more sustainable and cost effective solution.

  10. @ Kiester – I agree – a console is a much better “investment” for gaming….all games work on the same hardware configuration.

  11. Except for the small fact that all the good games (for strategy gamers) are PC exclusives. If you like simple games, sure consoles are neat toys.

  12. you can play the game in a different mode that has less requirements. my PC is old too I can’t play the regular game but there is a different mode i can play i forgot what it was called strategy view or something, the game stops being 3D. you click a button next to the minimap

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