The Opportunity Budget


As an advertising industry professional by day, I hear my clients sometimes refer to something they call the opportunity budget. This bucket of money is meant to fund other marketing communications initiatives that are outside of the core plan. For instance, this could be used to promote a product that wasn’t originally going to get any marketing support. Or, this could be used to provide additional support to an existing plan.

As a gaming enthusiast, this concept is one that I apply to my spending habits. There are games that I know I’ll be buying within a given year that I can plan to purchase when the time comes. Then there are the games that I buy that deviate from that plan. In particular, these opportunity cost games are titles that I pick up as a means of expanding my horizons.

If I only bought the sure-fire hits, my collection would be much smaller. However, as someone with a deep interest in the medium, I don’t want to let any amazing games pass me by because I didn’t already know I wanted them beforehand. If I didn’t go out of my way to try new things, I would have missed out on some of my favourite games of this generation, including Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Vanquish and Sleeping Dogs among others.

On the other hand, I’ve also come across no shortage of duds. Some games are just flat-out bad, such as Earth Defense Force 2017. However, most of the duds I come across in this manner are games that were critically acclaimed titles. Who knew that I wouldn’t like Dishonored, Red Dead Redemption or Journey?

photoThrough the unscientific method of sorting through my Xbox 360 collection, I put together two piles of opportunity budget games. The pile on the left are the games I ended up liking, while the ones on the right are the ones I didn’t like. Yes, there are a few more misses than hits overall, but I’d never know unless I gave them an honest try. Besides, most of these games were bought at a heavily discounted price, so don’t feel bad for me and my large stack of games I don’t like.

I can see this concept being alien to many. There are for instance, the ‘mainstream’ gamers who only buy Madden and Call of Duty every year. There’s also a contingent of hardcore gamers that will only play games that have high Metacritic scores. Whatever the case is, not everyone is willing to put their time and money on the line for games that may suck, especially when this is such an expensive hobby to keep up with. As my personal finances get further skewed by grown-up expenses, this bucket is continuing to shrink. While I will likely take less risks because of this, I hope I’ll be able to justify at least a few out-of-left-field choices in the future. If I don’t keep trying what I don’t know, I’ll keep missing out on diamonds in the rough.


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