Is it Worth Buying a Video Game More Than Once?

Updated on May 10, 2017
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Anti-Valentine reviews PC games and writes about the video game industry. He also sells games and gets commissions through Amazon.

This topic has come up in places online more than once, and the question posed was more or less the same: “Do you ever buy a game more than once?”

I’ll answer that question by saying: “Yes, I have – on at least one occasion.”

In fact, lately I keep running into situations where I end up buying games more than once. I have on occasion bought retail or boxed editions of games (although less often nowadays seeing as it often costs more, is inferior in some way, and I don’t particularly like going to shopping malls to get them like I used to), as well as digital versions of games.

I’ve been thinking more about it lately and I think it has a lot to do with one’s personality. You get people who are collectors or hoarders, and so they would definitely be the type to buy games more than once, in every form, retail and digital.

In games, I’m the type who would rather hoard stuff than drop it or sell it. For example, in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I have plenty of guns, and I end up stocking up on them instead of just selling them. The only time I would even sell one is when I already have one in my own personal collection. Then it costs money to restore them enough to sell them, and at that point, I’d rather own the mint condition one that the broken one, so then I need to repair both, so I can keep one and sell the other.

It’s kind of an achievement hunting type thing. Look, in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I have a mint condition assault rifle, even though I’ll never use it, because my submachine gun does more damage and is superior in virtually every way imaginable .

If I own a retail copy of a game, I’m still tempted to get a digital copy, because they often come with bundled extras, including DLC for the base game that you can play, they’ll last longer than a physical copy (even if the file you download gets deleted or something, you can still re-download it from the website), the digital copy might boast other features like multiplayer (especially through Steam), they might not have DRM like the boxed copy, and they’re more likely to be compatible with your PC (especially if it’s an older game).

If I own the game on Steam, I’ll still buy it on GOG if I like it and the price is right, because there’s no DRM, possible extra content that doesn’t come with the Steam version, and the GOG copy is a legitimate copy and not just a licence for the game like on Steam, which can be revoked at any time for any reason.

If I own the game on GOG, I’m less likely to get a Steam edition of the game unless it sports other features that the GOG copy lacks. This is the case with Ghost Recon, which has the expanions on Steam, but not on GOG.com. I own a copy on both platforms.

If I own a retail copy of a game, I’m still tempted to get a digital copy, because they often come with bundled extras, including DLC for the base game.

I have a mental checklist of sorts that I go through when it comes to buying games, especially if I’m to buy them more than once.

  • Do I have a retail copy of the game? If no, do I like the look of it or how it plays (from playing a demo or watching a YouTube gameplay video of it). If yes, buy it. If no, what is the price? If it’s cheap, buy it and trade with someone who does want it.
  • Do I have a retail copy of the game? If yes, does it work? If yes, is it as good as a digital version of the game? If yes, then I’ll probably just buy it anyway because I like to have a digital backup copy of a game. CDs and DVDs only last so long – and the same could be argued about licences on Steam, but GOG copies that are DRM free are forever.
  • Do I have a retail copy of the game? If yes, does it work? If no, buy it, because there’s a chance the digital copy might work. If it doesn’t, get your money back as long as it’s still under guarantee. This is less likely to work with retail, because most stores won't take back games if the packaging has been opened, while Steam has a 14 day guarantee (or 2 hours play time), GOG.com has as a 30 day guarantee and Origin has a week guarantee.
  • Do I have a retail copy of the game? If yes, is it as good as a digital version of the game? If no, buy it. Extra DLC is always better.
  • Do I have the game on Steam? If yes, does it work? If yes, is the GOG version any better? If yes, buy it – see above about DLC being better
  • Do I have the game on Steam? If yes, does it work? If no, buy it on GOG. A better guarantee and more chance of compatibility mean that a GOG copy working is a good bet.
  • Do I have the game on Steam? If no, buy it.
  • Do I have the game on Steam but it's available on GOG.com? If no, buy it on GOG.

There are different camps when it comes to this practice. Some argue that it’s not worth having a game that already own, when you could just buy another game that you don’t already have instead. That in the end it’s a waste of money

But there are situations where it might be necessary or at least convenient. Let’s look at some of the reasons why people buy games more than once:

The disc broke

I’ve had physical copies of games end up broken because the disc got scratched to hell and gone, or was broken. So in that case I would obviously want another one.

It’s good to have a backup copy (especially digital)

Especially if the disc version you have breaks, right? That and it’s just more convenient to download a game and install it without having to search for it in your closet or cupboard somewhere, where all it does for eleven months out of a year is gather dust. And no discs means no disc changing with bigger games.

Nothing is better than a box

If I were to come across a boxed copy of something like, say, System Shock 2. I would buy it, depending on the price, even though I already have it on both GOG and Steam. You can display box copies on shelves or in display cabinets. You can’t do that with digital copies, unless you were to say, make a box and a CD with print out graphics, and even then it wouldn’t quite be the same, no matter how good it looks.

You want to protect your boxed copy

Handling a box and a disc gives both more chance of wear and breaking, so having a digital copy – the only thing that can go wrong is the usual data file corruption and bullshit that happens on your harddrive.

One version might be superior in some way to another

I already owned Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition on GOG.com, but then Devolver announced that they would release Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition on Steam. This comes with not only a DosBox based copy of Duke 3D, but also a high resolution version complete with source port – and you get the three officials expansion packs too. GOG doesn’t have these extras, and it doesn’t look like they ever will either, so when it was on sale I grabbed it.

Playing with friends is better, right?

Another thing that makes a Steam copy superior to a GOG copy, even for now with Galaxy, is multiplayer. There’s just much better support for it. Once GOG can fix their client and ensure cross platform compatibility with Steam, than okay, go ahead and buy it on GOG. Otherwise, you’d better like singleplayer.

You’d have to play it through Steam, because a lot of the servers hosted elsewhere would be long gone, especially if it’s an old game.

Compatibility

Original disc based versions more than likely will not be very compatible with newer operating systems and hardware, and if you’ve recently bought an old game, you can probably rest assured in knowing that you will never need to take it back to the store if it doesn’t work – because they won’t take it back in any case. Digital versions sold on Steam and especially on GOG are much more likely to work, and GOG offers a 30 day guarantee because they’re that confident it will.

DRM

Many games nowadays have DRM, and not everybody out there approves of it. So let’s say you have a physical copy of something like Red Alert 3, which has SecuROM DRM, and this bothers you. What’s that you ask? The Steam version of Red Alert 3 doesn’t have SecuROM DRM? Why no, it doesn’t, my friend. And so of you go to buy it to save you the pain in the neck that is installing SecuROM, having it mess up your optical drives and goodness knows what else.

Bundles

Sometimes you buy games that you already own inadvertently. They might be bundled with something else that you really want, and buying the bundle is either the only real way to get a hold of it, or it works out to be the cheapest or at least the most cost effective option. The good news is you can always trade your game (whether it be physical or digital) with somebody else for something you don’t have.

Nothing else worthwhile

Sometimes because there’s just nothing else worthwhile, even if I have a game, I’m tempted to go ahead and buy another copy just for the sake of it. Because I like adding to my collection, and buying a Steam or GOG copy of a game is probably just as ridiculous as buying every single edition of a retail game – which publishers want you to do after all.

Buying to gift or trade

Even if I own the game on GOG already, I might be tempted to buy it again so I can gift it to someone I know, or perhaps to trade with. It depends. If the price is low enough I’ll consider it.

Do you buy games more than once?

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    © 2017 Anti-Valentine

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