I am a compulsive hoarder and I am slightly ashamed of it. It’s an obsession for me to collect things. Whether it is movie ticket stubs, 3D glasses, receipts, manuals, fancy cards, bills, lighters, prepaid telephone cards, memorabilia, etc. I just cannot seem to throw things away.
When I got my first credit card, it was online retail therapy galore! I had sites like Cobone and Groupon bookmarked! Bought items that although were cheap, never really used them. To this day I have to keep chanting in my head “You don’t need it” every time I browse through them. At least then, I realized that it was going to cost me money.
Enter Dota 2 – the sequel to DotA; a game I had spent a lot of money on during my college days. Back then, if you wanted to play DotA, you’d either have to buy Warcraft 3 and have a really good internet connection to play with people online. But since it wasn’t as mainstream as it is today, the other option was to spend AED 5 / hour in a cyber cafe to play on LAN with just about anyone who was ready to kick your a**. A lot of hours (x AED 5’s) were invested and with a game like DotA the only yield is loss of self esteem.
This obsession with DotA lasted for a good part of 3+ years and was probably the longest addiction I’ve had. Until Valve Corp bought Dota 2 and launched it on Steam. FOR FREE! Life was good. All you had to do was download Steam, which was also free and then decide which server you wanted to play on.
Thus began months of sucking hard at Dota 2, with it’s reworked meta game engine, to endless chants of: cyka / feeder / noob / reported. But all it cost to play Dota 2 was a computer and an active internet connection (Woohoo!).
All was great till I was introduced to the concept of item sets for heroes. Cosmetic items that enhance the appearance of heroes / certain hero abilities. In exchange for money. Please bear in mind that these items do not affect any aspect of the actual game play. I was somehow able to resist the urge to buy these items, but then the Steam Sales began. Huge discounts on games that I had always wanted to own/play.
My first purchase on Steam was the Valve Complete Pack for $49.99/-. After I realized how much I had spent, I swore to myself that it would be the last. Then I bought two Prince of Persia games after that. But that was it. No more. Wasn’t going to spend more money on games. But Valve had other plans … They launched the Free to Play Collector’s Pack.
After being addressed as a noob yet again, by my friends this time, I was introduced to the Steam Community Market. Hallelujah! The mecca for items and sets! You can buy complete hero sets here for under $1/-. Even the items you get as random drops during the game can be sold here. Then something inside my brain snapped and my obsession with the Community Market was born.
I started with buying items for the heroes that I frequently played. Nothing out of the ordinary. They were cheap (~ $0.05/-) and the whole bargain hunting process was addictive. But then things slowly started spinning out of control. I started keeping tabs on price histories and analyzing trends (yearly, monthly, weekly). Started making lists of items I wanted, even for heroes that I don’t frequently play.
Daily visits to the market and continuous refreshing of search results began taking up a good part of my evenings. (The latest improvement to the Market makes this a breeze as you can filter by game>hero>item>quality. This was not the case earlier.) I would patiently wait for the price of items to drop by as little as $0.01 before buying. The whole experience hasn’t been entirely vain though. It has taught me a great deal about community market trading, trends, workshop items, gems, tools, pennants, etc.
At the time of writing this article, I’ve managed to obtain complete sets for most of the heroes and this obsession is slowly beginning to wear off. In the words of Jay-Z, it’s “on to the next one”.