The $300 video game challenge for 2018

So, best of the year video game lists are great. But, when it comes down to budget, a lot more games don’t make the cut. Given the following limits, what games would you pick:

  • Each picked game must list the system to be played and the cost of the game
  • Must have been released for the chosen system in 2018
  • The entire list can only contain two of the following systems:
    • PC
    • PS4
    • XBOX One
    • Switch
  • The total cost of the game on the list cannot exceed $300
  • Try to figure out what the game would have costed in 2018. But I won’t hold using current prices against you
  • Do not add used game prices for games that actually can’t be after the code has been bound to an account
  • Deals that require trade-ins or buying other games that are NOT on your list can be used
  • Expansions are fine if the base game came out in a previous year
  • Game streaming and access services cannot be added or applied to the list
  • Games that require subscriptions cannot be included
  • New editions of games that were released previously still count (new platform, new version with DLC, etc.)

Example List

  • God of War (PS4) $39.99
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4) $59.99
  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (XBOX One) $29.99
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (XBOX One) $59.99
  • Madden NFL 19 (XBOX One) $59.99
  • No Man’s Sky (XBOX One) $49.99

Pre-Post Notes

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The way big games are going, everything is designed to be a 100 hour experience if you let it, so I bet $300 would be totally workable.

Not that I put that kind of time into games like it, but between Anthem and The Division 2 there’s a lot of what some consider to be “value” there. Esp if you want to see the new hotness on a budget.

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Using your plan, I can probably manage even $200 dollars (comes down to around PHP10000 where I live). I only want 2 major releases at launch this year (Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem), and that leaves room for 1 or 2 more games that I might really want. Your $300 won’t suffice if you’re buying every month, unless you buy used or at a serious discount. I don’t usually get into GaaS types like Overwatch, but I think it’s fair to include what you spend on that. Ditto for expansions. And now that I think about it, there’s a solid possibility the new Animal Crossing will have DLC. :expressionless:

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Daaaaaaaamn, that’s an interesting thought challenge…

So I’ll be using Switch/PC

Celeste $20 (Switch)
Into the Breach $15 (PC)
Night in the Woods $20 (Switch)
Return of the Obra Dinn $20 (PC)
Vermintide 2 $40 (PC)
Dead Cells $25 (Switch)
Dragon Ball FighterZ $30 because I got it on sale (Switch)
Hitman 2 $60 (PC)
Bayonetta 2&1 $60 (Switch)
Minnit $10 (Switch)

I’d also round that out with Let it Die and Fortnite for freebies.

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Going with current Steam prices, but several of these I got for $10-$20 cheaper than listed.

  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (NS, $60)
  • Vampyr (PC, $50)
  • Battletech (PC, $40)
  • Battletech - Flashpoint (PC, $20)
  • Dead Cells (NS/PC, $25)
  • Return of the Obra Dinn (PC, $20)
  • Celeste (NS/PC, $20)
  • Dandara (NS/PC, $15)
  • Heaven Will Be Mine (PC, $15)
  • Into the Breach (NS/PC, $15)
  • Extreme Meatpunks Forever (PC, $10)
  • The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game (PC, $5)
  • Paratopic (PC, $5)
  • Deltarune (PC, $0)

If I were hunting the best deals and through sales, I could probably make room for Kirby Star Allies.

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Within the limits you’ve set up in this thought experiment

Hollow Knight, Switch $15
Yakuza 6, PS4 $60
Into The Breach, Switch $15
Prey Mooncrash, PS4 $20 , $40 for bundle with prey
Dead Cells, Switch $25
Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Switch $60
Monster Hunter World, PS4 $60

total $275 (includes buying prey as a bundle)

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I’ll do this in Canadian dollars. If you need to stretch your dollar then every single one of these went on sale at some point before the New Year (except maybe Obra Dinn, as it was a October release and I was gifted my copy so I didn’t notice if it was on sale or not).

Return of the Obra Dinn, PC ; $22.79
Hitman 2 (base version), PS4 ; $79.99
Lumines Remastered, PS4 ; $19.99
Hidden Folks (Beach DLC), PC ; $3.49
Dark Souls Remastered, PS4 ; $54.99
Burnout Paradise Remastered, PS4 ; $51.99
Tetris Effect, PS4 ; $53.49

Total ; $286.73
Remaining funds ; $13.27

I find it interesting that no one has included Red Dead 2 on their list yet. Personally I knew the game wouldn’t be for me (and maybe the Waypoint audience leans that way too), but in a topic like this where budgetary concerns are a focus I would think a quantity game like that would get more attention.

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Thank you all for your lists.

Really interesting how many people chose Switch and/or PC for their platforms. I guess I expected more PS4/Xbox One.

A quick thought on GaaS and game subscription services, how does one determine worth of these services? Is it really just the game/catalog or are there other factors to consider? After all, choosing one isn’t the result of just wanting to play a single game, there’s a long term concept of value associated with the choice.

@gio Monthly would be difficult as games are not consistent in quality or quantity each month. Perhaps something like a nominated system for each month, the a quarterly culling, then a yearly final list. Would be interesting to see what got dropped throughout the year.

@mosespippy I also found it interesting that there’s no God of War or Red Dead Redemption 2.

I would like to point out that most of the games listed are indie games. I’m curious if, although most gamers appreciate AAA quality, is a solid indie experience worth more?

Since I usually have less than $300 to spend on video games in a year, indie games have a monetary value that can’t be disregarded. Unless it’s a game I’d forgo meat and veg for a month for (like Kingdom Hearts III!), indie games just make more sense for me. And it’s usually worth it.

I put more hours into Into the Breach than I did Monster Hunter World; I think Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is prettier and more visually interesting in many ways than, say, God of War; I had a less disappointing experience seeing the story of a cool polyamorous lesbian playing Heaven Will Be Mine than Assassin’s Creed Odyssey; even Octopath Traveller does less to spark my nostalgia than Wargroove.

Definitely not saying I don’t enjoy AAA games – I adore pretty much everything Nintendo puts out and Vampyr was a close second on my GOTY list – but if I can’t get them as gifts or on a good discount, it’s hard to justify actually buying them, especially in release year.

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While yes, there are many factors associated with subscription services, at least with Gamepass the value proposition is so good that I’ll happily use it. During the holiday sale, I managed to get a year’s subscription for $70 CAD, which is $10 less than the price of a new game here in Canada. All I need is at least one game I would otherwise buy at full price to come out on the service and I’m already ahead. It’s a reasonable bet, especially since last year I more than got my money’s worth.

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For me over the past few years I’ve begun to feel like AAA games are kind of factory made. Like in the first half of the PS3/360 era a bunch of blueprints were made and the cost was so high that all they can do is reproduce variations on those blueprints. If 600 or 800 or 1000 people worked on the latest Assassin’s Creed or Red Dead, then how can any one of them influence the finished product? They can’t. They’re just following an established pattern, making the same thing that has already been made but newer and prettier. They’re just part of a machine.

But an indie is a more hand crafted experience. You can tell the difference right away. Like these are ideas from an individual or small group of individuals who thought a lot about their creative process and how to convey their ideas. They’re not following a blueprint. They are building something new.

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Generally the way to get cheap games is to buy games that weren’t release in the current year, or at least to wait for a good sale, but if you wanted to only buy games at their full release price, you could still pick up all of the following 2018 releases on PC for 269 USD (arranged by increasing price):

Minit (10$)
Donut County (13$) (that’s the PC price; it’s cheaper on iOS, but iPhones can be pricey)
Into the Breach (15$)
7 Billion Humans (15$)
Slay the Spire (16$)
CrossCode (20$)
Celeste (20$)
Wandersong (20$)
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine (20$)
Return of the Obra Dinn (20$)
Hades (20$)
Dead Cells ($25)
They Are Billions ($25)
Frozen Synapse 2 ($30)

Note that I haven’t actually bought/played all of these, but the ones I did play were pretty alright.

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Looking at the title I thought my favorite games of 2018 list would come in under the $300 … and I was right! Even made it lower than $200 using the most expensive price for each game (I got subnautica via humblebundle the year before so thats considerably cheaper than the list price). Added a few other games I played and some other i wanted to play and came up with 19 games that at full price go under a budget of $300

Secret Little Haven (PC | itch.io) - $5
Heaven Will Be Mine (PC | itch.io) - $15
Return of the Obra Dinn (PC | humblebundle store) - $20
Slay the Spire (PC | steam) - $16 (technically comes out in 2019 but i put 300 hours into it last year)
Frostpunk (PC | humblebundle store) - $30
Life is Strange 2 episode 1 (PS4) - $40 (for entire season)
Subnautica (PC | humblebundle) - $25
Dead Cells (PC | steam)- $25
Captain Spirit (PS4) - free
Cultist Simulator (PC | humblebundle store) - $20

total $196
average $19.60

others
Florence (android) - $3
Maplestory 2 (PC | steam) - free
Donut County (PC | steam) - $13

want to play
Extreme Meatpunks Forever (PC | itch.io) - $10
Genderwrecked (PC | itch.io) - $6.66
Into the Breach (PC | humblebundle store) - $15
Jackbox Party Pack 5 (PC | humblebundle store) - $30
Celeste (PC | itch.io) - $20
Deltarune (PC) - free

total $293.66
average $15.46

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Everything’s on PC, prices doublechecked re current cost. This is basically the Tactical Tuesdays list.

Battletech - $40
Battletech: Flashpoint - $25 (65)
Cultist Simulator - $20 ($85)
Armored Brigade - $40 ($125)
Into the Breach - $15 ($140)
Heaven Will Be Mine - $15 ($155)
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden - $35 ($190)
Frozen Synapse 2 - $30 ($210)
Katamari Damacy Reroll - $30 ($240)
Return of the Obra Din - $20 ($260)
Banner Saga 3 - $25 ($285)

Uhhh…
Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn - $20

Technically that puts me at $305, but screw it. Splurge on Shaq-Fu. Live your best life.

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