Does Spending More Money On A Game Make You Feel Obligated To Play It?

Illustration for article titled Does Spending More Money On A Game Make You Feel Obligated To Play It?

Do you feel more obligated to play the games you buy for $60 than the ones you snag during Steam sales? On this week’s Kotaku Splitscreen, let’s discuss.


First, Kirk and I talk about the news of the week on Lindsay Lohan, Shadow of War, and Todd Howard. Then we talk about Far Cry 5's nihilism and Ni no Kuni II’s idealism before taking some listener questions (50:36) on games as a service, GPU recommendations, and the Xbox Game Pass. Plus: how much does a game’s price affect your enjoyment of it?

Listen here:

Get the MP3 here, or read an excerpt:

Fredrik asked:

Hi, Jason and Kirk!

Avid Splitscreen listener here. Best part of my Thursday/Friday commute to work is listening to you guys gab about the games industry.

After hearing about Microsoft’s decision to start building a $10/month game library where every new Microsoft game will be included, I started thinking about how that might impact me and how I relate to my games.

It really comes down to this - whenever I have bought a game I have felt a strong need to play it through. Maybe not to completion but I certainly make sure to get my moneys worth. Whenever I have gotten a game for free (gifted or, ehm, otherwise) I rarely feel that same need to complete it or even to give it a thourough onceover.

I have thought hard about why that is and today I stumbled over, what psychologists call, the Endowment Effect which is the hypothesis that people ascribe more value to things merely because they own them.

And that pretty much sums up my fear of monthly paid services where I get acess to a multitude of games. I’m actually afraid that it will take away some of my enjoyment and need to finish the games available to me. Which kinda sucks to think about.

What do you guys think about this?

Kirk: I can’t speak to what Fredrik feels, but I can speak to how it makes me feel. I totally understand that feeling of, ‘Well I bought this so now I’m gonna play it.’ My relationship to that is a bit different—I get a lot of games for free from work. There are times when I buy a game, and when I do, I always try to play it and get a lot out of it.

A recent example is, on PS Plus last month, Bloodborne and the Ratchet and Clank remake were both the games you could download, which is great, those are two really good games. I never played that Ratchet and Clank game... but I knew it was good, and they’re pretty fun. I downloaded it, because what the hell, it’s free. And it’s just sat there on my PS4 and I haven’t played it. It’s similar to when people buy stuff on a Steam sale and it’s almost like you got it for free, you got a game from four years ago and it’s $2, and then it just sits there and you don’t play it. Because it doesn’t have that need.

I guess my one thought about that is: If that’s the thing that makes people play a game, that’s a weak [reason]. Really you should want to play a game because it’s good. So removing that isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my view. Maybe people will feel less beholden to play a game because they just dropped $60 on it, and instead they’ll have the option of playing whatever game they like the most.

Jason: I think there are two questions here. One is: Does it make you feel more incentive to play a game if you spend $60 on it as opposed to if you spend $2 on it? And I think the answer there is yes. The other is, and that involves the Endowment Effect, are you getting more tangible enjoyment out of a game if you spend $60 on it as opposed to if you didn’t?

Kirk: If it makes you feel good to play a game you’ve spent money on, then that’s great.


Jason: Have you found that it makes you feel good to play a game you’ve spent money?

Kirk: I don’t know. I don’t really know.

Jason: I’m just thinking of games I bought recently, and when I spend $60 on a game it just makes me feel more obligated to play it, but it doesn’t necessarily affect the enjoyment, I don’t think.


Kirk: I’m thinking of other things in my life. There are times when I’ll buy an expensive desk, or an expensive chair, and I’ll take the time to really make it work perfectly and get the exact right one, and there is that feeling of satisfaction of, ‘Yes this was expensive but look how perfectly it fits into this thing I set up.’

Jason: That’s so different.

Kirk: But there is this kind of, ‘I own this thing and it was expensive,’ and that’s part of the feeling of satisfaction.


Jason: That’s different than a $60 video game.

Kirk: Yeah I know, I’m trying to relate it out because I don’t have a great answer for the video game thing. I don’t really get that feeling for video games, but I do get that feeling for life, it is a real thing, so I can understand how someone might have that feeling with a game.


Jason: I think that feeling is more for tangible objects than it would be for a piece of interactive entertainment. It’s an interesting thought, though.

For much more, listen to the full interview. As always, you can find Splitscreen on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. Leave us a review if you like what you hear, and reach us at with any and all questions, requests, and suggestions.


T off the New

Definitely, main reason I stopped any subscription based games. (FFXIV in particular) I felt obligated to play it even though I didn’t really enjoy it as much. I would think I was wasting my money, but really wasting my time.

I’ve bought games I ended up disliking, lived with the purchase and just didn’t finish them. ME: Andromeda for example, been only a few hours into for months and have 0 desire to finish. It’s important to me to use my time for something I enjoy.