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Opinion – Watching Let’s Plays can be just as good as playing

Opinion – Watching Let’s Plays can be just as good as playing

Let’s Plays have a bad reputation for being immature, gimmicky and just plain annoying. But sometimes, they are a legitimate way of experiencing a game. One you might not otherwise have the chance to enjoy.

The critically acclaimed God of War for PlayStation 4 was recently released. Perfect 10/10 scores came thick and fast from gaming critics around the world.  Even our very own Leo, in his short and sweet review, reasoned that God of War was flawless. Like most players, I was excited to see that this long-awaited reimagining of Kratos was a phenomenal success.

I had very high hopes for God of War. In fact, this game, Horizon Zero Dawn, Detroit Become Human and Insomniac’s upcoming Spider-man are at the top of my most anticipated for 2018.

Let’s Plays are a Legitimate Alternative

Clearly, I love single player games with deep stories and gorgeous worlds. What Cory Barlog and the Sony Santa Monica team have put together in this regard is nothing short of astounding.

Unfortunately, as a family man with four mouths to feed, I don’t have the luxury to buy and maintain multiple games and consoles. I strongly suspect this is common to many other gamers.

Let’s face it, owning multiple consoles, game subscriptions and a high-end PC isn’t the norm. We’ll leave that to the YouTubers/ and Twitch Streamers who have millions of subscribers.

I don’t own a PS4 and it’s unlikely I’ll be getting one anytime soon. Currently, a PS4 retails at $400 AUD and $550 AUD for a PS4 Pro. I simply can’t afford it. I have looked high and low for discounted deals of any sort. Sony is obviously confident in its market position that it isn’t offering any console deals.

Value for Money

Microsoft, on the other hand, is aggressively pushing its hardware. You can get an Xbox One S with 3 games for as little as $299. Insane.

So, I have played a few hours of God of War, albeit vicariously on YouTube. And before you hate on me, let me explain why.

Years ago I had to go through hell to get the latest edition of a gaming magazine, just to see a few tantalising screenshots of an upcoming game.

Money as always was a precious resource and I couldn’t afford to waste a very hard earned $60 on a game that I’d never seen or heard anything about. All that changed with the birth of the Internet and streaming videos like YouTube and Twitch.

Not only do I get freshly served reviews, but I also see real-time gameplay and judge for myself whether a game fits my personal criteria.

Considering all of that, I lose nothing by watching some playthroughs. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper for starters.

Streamers Aren’t Evil

I did it for Mass Effect Andromeda, The Last of Us, BOTW, Destiny and others. But only about 5–8 hours of each; enough to get a good sense of what the games are like without giving everything away.

A lot of reviewers urge YouTubers to refrain from uploading playthroughs. They don’t want to spoil the game for those who aim to buy it.

I don’t think that’s entirely necessary.

These playthroughs serve a large proportion of avid gamers. We are all adult enough to know the risk of spoilers when we click on a video. Let’s not condemn the practice outright.

I am a gamer and I love games regardless of platform; PC, Console, Mobile and even YouTube, Twitch and Mixer. I’ve always hated the concept of console exclusives. It’s bad for the average gamer.

A streaming video then becomes an excellent proxy by which a lot of people can experience games they can’t otherwise access.

Yes, it’s never the same thing. You aren’t in control, you don’t make story decisions, you don’t get the feedback. The gameplay isn’t your unique experience.

But it does give you a chance to experience the many different and amazing games out there.

Can’t We All Just Get Along

In saying that, I’d like to acknowledge the streamers. It’s difficult to play through an entire modern game in less than a week, often with multiple playthroughs.

They do this so you can see every nook, cranny, collectible and upgrade in the game. It’s amazing to me that people can do this and so why shouldn’t I watch the fruits of their hard work?

As I continue to wait for fortune to favour me, I’ll continue enjoying those 4K playthroughs without worrying about the overheads. And for those who haven’t played or seen it, God of War is as amazing as everyone says!

Go buy it now and if you can’t, see you on YouTube.