Are Games Today Still Worth the Huge Asking Price?

Today I have a bit of a rant to share with my dear readers of the blog (yes, the two of you who are reading this :D). I would like to bring up the idea that the 50-60 dollar price tag for a game is dying, and needs to be killed off.

Now I know, you’re thinking to yourself that it just won’t happen. Developers need to make that big money since they spend that big money, and they need to charge that premium price. Well, I personally can’t stand it anymore, which is why I have avoided it for some time. The used game bin is a wonderful option for those not in a rush, and the Free-to-Play model is definitely one that is taking off.

I don’t think games are worth 50-60 dollars anymore, and here’s my main reason why.

Let’s rewind time a bit, shall we? I won’t go too far back, because some people will just call me an old ass fool, and that’s fine. I got thick skin. I shall now go back to the days of the Nintendo 64 (although the Super Nintendo was just as bad with their pricing). It’s not that far back, maybe 15-16 years… but as you know in the gaming world, that’s an eternity.

The N64 launched in the summer of 1996 with 2 games. Yes, only 2. Those games were Super Mario 64 (a groundbreaking title) and Pilotwings 64. Those games retailed for 59.99 and at the time that was a big deal because before that titles were roughly around 49.99. No sooner after the launch of the system, the big third-party releases were upon us. How much were they you ask? They retailed for 69.99 and some of upwards of 79.99.

Yep, that’s right, if you think 59.99 now is a lot, I paid 69.99 for my copy of Killer Instinct Gold (and no it wasn’t worth it). So Erik, you ask, why then complain about paying 50-60 for a game when they were once 70-80? Well, the problem with this model is that it was nothing more than corporations squeezing the consumer for the all-amazing new technology, and at the time they had succeeded. Nothing has changed of course, except the means of obtaining your games. This is where the price problem comes in.

Let’s now fast forward to today. So of course, one has to figure in the costs of marketing, development, staff salaries, electric bills, coffee runs, etc. and I totally understand and respect that aspect. The problem is, back then, when a game came out it was only available at your local retailer.

They had to have their markup on top of the initial price that the manufacturer put on it. It made sense, and it was your only option. The year is now 2018, and we have that wonderful advent of the “digital download” and of course the various apps for our mobile devices.

Games are no longer a rare breed of entertainment that only the geeks enjoy. Everyone enjoys them now. Look at Angry Birds for example, at only 99 cents; it became an international success. It cost you only 1 dollar people…1 dollar!

So today’s titles for the consoles keep getting churned out. Some are really amazing titles, some are epic failures. The problem I have with this is that they all follow the most basic of pricing schemes still, and that’s a full retail value of 59.99 (in some cases, like first party titles, they would be 39.99 to 49.99 respectively).

In a world where we have consoles with hard drives in excess of hundreds of gigabytes, internet connections that are so fast that some ISP’s try to limit your usage, you would think that game titles would try to compete, price wise, with the newer more lucrative business model of “micro transactions”.

Yes, yes, I know they already do that now with big titles. Look at all the map packs for Call of Duty and Halo. Look at games coming out that are “finished” but yet on launch day there is already DLC available for purchase. Why not pack it in to the game you’re already dishing out 60 bucks for? We all know the answer to that question.

Here’s one example of what I am trying to get at. What if you just wanted to enjoy a single player experience? Why should everyone have to pay the same price for the same game where most people might play online, but some people don’t? Why isn’t there a price difference for just a single player version of the game? Are people who simply desire a single player experience just force fed a multiplayer mode that they would never use, still having to pony up the money just because other people want it?

We live in an age where options are plentiful, and certainly desired. Will the business model of gaming just continue on this path? Will we one day see titles with multiple purchasing options for the end user? How great would it be if you could buy a console game for 19.99 (shout out to 2K Games for their attempt with their 2K sports series) and pay additional for the features you want. Maybe this is just my opinion, but it’s a valid point none the less.

One could easily think of a variety of different pricing options based on the demand of the market. The one mentioned in the above paragraph is just one example. Creating a variety of purchasing options may seem complicated to some, but I believe it should be a step developers need to take to compete with an ever-growing and sophisticated mobile market.

Bring back the concept of innovation! Do something outside the box already! We are too often thrown sequel after sequel of the same garbage, packaged with the same crap with some added fluff and one new feature and it’s labeled as “new”. Let’s face it; the economy of today is not the economy of 5 years ago.

If developers and publishers keep following their current path, then it’s no wonder sales have been slowing and piracy is on the rise.

In conclusion, paying a premium for a game these days just doesn’t feel right. Sure, a good portion of people will still continue to dish out the 60 dollars for a mediocre title that will get old in about a week. People will still buy the DLC adding more features (and more money) to their already overpriced title.

The point I simply want to get across is that as technology gets cheaper and cheaper, consoles get more and more advanced, and mobile devices become more and more popular, the price of games should not continue along this path. Companies are slowly realizing that, but not fast enough. Profit will always trump quality, unfortunately. Maybe I’m just insanely naive in my thought process, but that’s just my 2 cents.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery Trailer Shows a Good Game, after all

I’m pretty meh when it comes to playing mobile games, especially free to play mobile games that hit you with a Pay Wall harder than Mike Tyson hit his opponents’ back in the days, before he started chewing up on human ears.

But I digress… the truth is that I don’t really like mobile games, even though I play my fair share of them instead of doing something productive with my time. Or so my mother says. And when I found out that Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery is an upcoming free-to-play mobile RPG developed by Portkey Games (Warner Bros’ own gaming studio created specifically for working on Harry Potter games) and Jam City (a mobile gaming developer known for silly match three titles), I was sure that I’m going to be even more meh than even when the game launches.

But, oh my, I might’ve been wrong actually! I just saw a trailer for the upcoming game on, read a bunch of details about the upcoming title and ended up quite surprised! It looks like we might actually have a winner here.

So, from the early details that I managed to collect, it appears that Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery will be an RPG with a heavy focus on choices that you make and building relations. Whenever I hear that a game’s story arcs change based on the choice I make, I already start to feel like a mini-God and give a few extra points to that particular game. And it’s exactly what Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery plans to do!

You will start out as a wannabe wizard or witch that has just been accepted at Hogwarts and you’ll have to go through all the basics: you’ll have to select a pet first, get into one of the four houses of the game, learn to cast spells and other magical-related stuff, then work on building friendships and rivalries, explore Hogwarts and its surroundings and complete tons of quests in pure RPG fashion.

Well, my friends, this sounds pretty damn good, actually! And the fact that you can choose your path – probably like becoming a good wizard or a bad, Draco Malfoy badass, is the frosting on the cake! Of course, you won’t actually get to meet Draco or any of Harry Potter’s friends – nor Harry himself, despite the title of the game, because the story is set sometime between his birth and his first year at Hogwarts.

At least you’ll meet some other familiar faces, as seen in the trailer: good ol’ Hagrid, professor Snape and Professor McGonagall, but the screenshot released by the developers also shows Dumbledore, so we might be in for another surprise appearance or two.

In terms of gameplay, it’s not yet very clear how things will really stand. I managed to catch a glimpse of gameplay that everybody else seems to have missed in the trailer, and it shows a bit of a game between a character and one of his or her rivals:

Most likely this will be a sort of a minigame that will be part of the full experience. Which sounds nice, because minigames add variety and variety is what I love about my games. Just make sure to make stuff complex too. Ok, Jam City?

Now let’s move on and check out the teaser trailer for Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery as I am sure that’s what you’re really interested in. Afterwards, I will share with you a few nice screen captures that give us all the reasons to be excited about the upcoming mobile RPG:

Really interesting! I actually found it entertaining and it made me really curious. I am a big Harry Potter fan, that’s true, so that might be my Achilles Heel, but it might also be that we’re finally getting a worthwhile mobile game that I won’t fully hate. I truly hope it’s the latter!

Now, as promised, let’s check out some Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery screen captures from the trailer that show us nice things in the upcoming game:

This is how your story begins. You’re about to become a wizard (or a witch!) Cool stuff!
Apparently, learning spells and magical skills will play an important role in the game. Hopefully there’ll be some sort of specialization involved in order to make things even more interesting and offer us more options.
Familiar faces galore. One of the favorite characters in the movie series makes an appearance and will probably teach us a thing or two about magic!
Probably this “rival battle” will be some other type of mini game that we’ll get to play in the game. I see potential for PvP here, so fingers crossed for that!

There’s no official word on the actual release date of Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery, but the Augmented Wizards website that I mentioned earlier said that the game’s coming this spring, so they probably know better.

Top 10 Nintendo Wii Games of All Time

Love it or hate it, Nintendo’s foray into motion gaming was a very successful one. They connected to the casual audience better than their competitors and for the first time ever I was able to play a video game with my grandma and even get my ass kicked at Wii Bowling. Now that the Wii has rode off into the sunset to pave way for newer consoles, we have decided to look back at the Top 10 Wii Games of all time.

There was crying, bloodshed, and roller coasters of emotion as this list came together. So here it is gamers, Mad Ape Games’ top 10 Wii games of all time.

10) The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword

Link’s latest quest to save Zelda comes in at number 10 on our list. The innovative motion controls, wonderful level design, and the new bold color palette stood high above minor flaws the game had (I hate you stamina meter). Skyward Sword may have not been the greatest Zelda game, but there’s no denying it’s a wonderful game and easily deserves a spot as one of the best Wii games of all time.

9) No More Heroes

Travis Touchdown versus 11 assassins in Suda51’s No More Heroes makes its way into our #9 spot. The games satire humor, unpredictable story, crazy gameplay, and Suda51’s insanity easily make this game a must have. If you haven’t beaten the living hell out of assassins with a beam sword yet, you’re missing out.

8) Wii Sports

The only game your grandma can beat you at. Wii Sports was packaged with the Wii itself and easily became the number one family game for the Wii. This was the game that brought my parents into that strange land called “video games.”

Whether it was playing tennis with mom, golfing with dad, or bowling with grandma (crazy lady gets a 300 every damn game.) Wii Sports was the best casual game and helped the Wii sell millions upon millions of units.

7) Epic Mickey

A dark twisted Disneyland? Check. A wonderfully crafted and deep story? Check. Warren Spector’s Epic Mickey amazed with its beautiful world, amazing story, and great morality system. The game isn’t without its flaws (coughcameracough), but this amazing game is incredibly fun and heartwarming to Disney fans and gamers alike.

6) New Super Mario Bros. Wii

New Super Mario Bros. Wii takes the 6 spot for being one of the best multiplayer games of all time. Countless hours of drinking, fighting for the propeller hat, and throwing my roommates into lava were had in New Super Mario Bros.

It is one of the most entertaining games of all time and easily the best Wii game with penguin suits. There may not be much “New” about it, but Nintendo crafted a multiplayer masterpiece with New Super Mario Bros Wii.

5) Donkey Kong Country Returns

Retro Studios this is why we love you. You take a completely dead franchise and make it a colorful, perfectly designed game. It is also one of the toughest games on the Wii expect death constantly as you barrel blast your way through the crazy mine shafts, beaches, and pirate ships you expect from a Donkey Kong Country game.

Though the difficulty turned some people off that didn’t stop many from riding rockets in search of those damn bananas. Retro took a dead franchise and made it brand new again in the best way possible.

4) The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess

A Gamecube and Wii game (I bought it with my Wii) that redefined Zelda for many. The game was seen as a return to form after many hardcore fans were turned off by Windwaker’s visuals (Even though Windwaker is better in my opinion).

Twilight Princess’ “Twilight Realm” was a welcome change as Link transformed into a wolf and totally rocked it killing all the Poes. The game was the Zelda standard in perfect level design, increased AI, and gameplay, with Midna being the least annoying partner in years. This game is still a must have game in your Wii library.

3) Xenoblade Chronicles

If there was one genre the Wii was lacking it was the RPG. With no (critically acclaimed) epic RPGs for the Wii fans got angry, and Operation Rainfall was formed. Operation Rainfall was a campaign to bring three JRPG’s to the United States and boy did they succeed. Xenoblade Chronicles was the first game to get released and damn is it amazing.

One of the largest, deepest, and most epic JRPGs of all time Xenoblade instantly became a classic and a must own for Wii owners. It has an amazing real time battle system and many mmo style features that make it much richer in content and a steal. Xenoblade Chronicles is not only the best RPG on the Wii, but one of the best RPGs of all time.

2) Super Mario Galaxy

You knew it would be on the list and for good reasons. Super Mario Galaxy does perfectly what many 3D Mario games do. INNOVATE INNOVATE INNOVATE. The gravity mechanic used so Mario jumps from planet to planet is incredible.

A masterpiece in level design and an A+ in innovation, Super Mario Galaxy moved games into the future with its 2007 release. It is the best platformer in history and one of the best games of all time. Super Mario Galaxy almost won our top spot in a close vote, but must settle for 2nd place right now.

1) Super Smash Bros Brawl

If you feel modern games aren’t worth their $60 price tag, then you haven’t played Brawl. With thousands of collectables, endless hours of fighting your friends, a 20 hour story, one of the best musical scores of all time, 35 characters, and the first Wii game to get online right.

Brawl was an achievement in video games that none of the other entries on the list come close to. It is the best multiplayer game on the Wii, one of the best fighting games of all time, and our top choice for the best Wii game of all time.

Do you remember the Wii games you loved the most? What other titles would you add to this list?

10 of the Best Game Box Covers EVER

To follow up my Top Ten Stylish Games article, I decided to court controversy by posting my 10 favorite box covers. This has the advantage in that I don’t need to have liked (or played) the game. When I came to write the post, however, I quickly found I had far far more than ten. Grand Theft Auto, Halo 3, Age of Empires III… all great covers, and none made it onto the end list. Because, yes, as you can imagine, I am letting my nostalgia take over again and I am looking mostly at older titles.

The list also began to modify itself when I investigated the differences between European and American covers. Final Fantasy, for example, has long carried a stark white cover and beautiful logo in Japan and Europe, whilst in America they tend towards a more normal character focused cover. Equally Ico, a game that has a classic cover by anyone’s definition, turned out to have been mutilated for an American audience. On the other hand, the US cover of The Legend of Zelda became a classic, whilst the Japanese cover was rather more ordinary.

The result is that this list is even more arbitrary than the last. If you’ve got a favorite, and it doesn’t appear, let me know about it!


The cover is either incredibly dull, or incredibly brave – depending on your point of view. Since Ico sold next to nothing when it first came out, I’m guessing most impulse buyers, browsing the shelves of their local game store, decided it was dull. A shame, since its one of the few covers that moved completely away from “hard-ass and stylised” to try something a bit more artistic. It’s the starkness that appeals, but perhaps it doesn’t grab the eye of the casual browser fast enough, and is more of a cover that grows on you.

The Legend of Zelda

Prior to The Legend of Zelda, most covers were cartoonish, pixelated or generic. There were some exceptions, but for the most part it often seemed like most cover artists hadn’t even bothered to play the game, let alone put an interesting artistic interpretation on it.

Then came The Legend of Zelda, and the gold and silver minimalism cried out “Buy me! I’m cool, grown up, and different!”.

Unlike Ico, the decision to do something different with the packaging worked. Zelda sold, and the cover became a classic. It was a theme many Zelda games later took up.

The black box, of course, was actually a hole that revealed the inside game. It stood out, and that was what counted.


I can’t make a top ten list without including a Lucas Arts game in it somewhere. It’s not just that they were inspired game makers – but that they borrowed from such diverse influences.

Outlaws, naturally, was a Western. The cover summed up the definitive Western cliche, but the colours, shadows, and slightly twitchy style contributed to make it a parody and a homage, rather than a rip-off.

I’m divided on the title font – it makes it look like a survival horror game, and doesn’t seem to fit with the theme at all. Nonetheless, the game goes on the list.

Final Fantasy Series (FFXII)

In Japan and Europe, the Final Fantasy name sold itself. Covers were white, minimalist, and carried the ornate logo with no background art.

Naturally, they decided to change this for the American audience. Busy covers, smiling characters, and detailed CG art was all the rage. With Final Fantasy XII the logo became the cover. The massive figure, with the subtle color gradients, took central stage. A balance had been found. I have no idea what they went with in America, but in the UK this cover caught my eye instantly.

There’s always been a very Japanese feel to these covers/logos, and FFXII was no exception. There’s a definite samurai edge to it.

Metal Gear Solid

I love the art style for Metal Gear Solid. The colors! The red shadows! The comic book edge!

My brother bought MGS, and I ended up spending most of time staring at the art assets, rather than playing the game. My main issue with the game was the talking. Characters went on and on, and whilst I’m normally a sucker for a story, for some MGS just didn’t cut it for me.

I loved walking around as a box though. I have to say.

Of course, part of the appeal is the chisel-jawed hero and the big-gun. Unlike Ico, MGS stuck with an image that sold, but gave it their own twist.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Another confession. Until I went searching for cover art today, I’d never played, seen or thought about Castlevania. I’ve heard the name, I’ve even seen some fan-art, but for some reason it had slipped below my radar of ‘cool games I should play someday’.

Then I stumbled across a forum, and someone had posted the image you see to the left. What can I say? The art speaks for itself. I still have no idea what this game is about, but after finishing this post I intend to go and find out.


Oblivion is an amazing game. The sheer depth, breadth and time you can spend exploring it makes it legendary. Despite it’s vast complex world, however, it went for a very simple cover.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I like simple. The peeling paper, the strange rune-like symbol, and the writing around the edge make the game seem mysterious. It also has that odd effect of bringing the feel of the very old into a very modern media (games). Whilst most games emblazon their covers with cutting edge graphics, or futuristic cars and weaponry, Oblivion looks more like an old book. It definitely wouldn’t look out of place on a fantasy lovers bookshelf.

It was pretty, and it worked. Once again, minimalism ftw.

Call of Duty 4

So far we’ve seen manly stylised and minamlist cover art. Now I’m going to point at Call of Duty 4. With most war-game covers, the emphasis is on the machines: the guns, the tanks, the big explosions. Call of Duty 4 focuses on the soldiers. However, that alone wouldn’t be enough to drive into onto the list – what makes this cover interesting is that its the product of a community vote.

The guys behind the game, Infinity Ward, submitted five covers to the Charlie Oscar Delta community, and got them to vote. The final cover is actually a blend of two. If this is the start of a generation of developers getting (and listening to) feedback from gamers I’m all for it.

The restricted palette is definitely something we’re seeing a lot of in game art. It’s a good sign.

Command & Conquer

When I got my first PC, at the somewhat delayed age of 15, the first game I bought for it was Command & Conquer. This wasn’t because I had read great reviews, or desperately wanted a classic RTS. Nope, it was for the cover.

I still think this cover stands out, with the black and white line work, and the colored ‘game reflection’ in the goggles. Luckily for me, judging a game by its cover turned out to be a great idea in this case. It started me on a life-long love affair with C&C, and with RTS in general.

The cover made me impulse buy, and I’m sure it made others. As such, the cover worked very well.

Silent Hill 2

Strangely, SH2 is the only one I haven’t played. None the less, the cover is one of my favorites. I think it’s that minimalism again. This time around, instead of the cover being white (or gold, or cream) it’s black. Despite this, it doesn’t really wear its horror label on its sleeve. The game could be anything – and thus the contents are all the more surprising.

That just about concludes our trawl through the best game cover art. As I mentioned at the start, a list like this simply has to leave off some powerful contenders. Dungeon keeper was rejected, as was World of Warcraft and Max Payne. There are, shockingly, no Mario games on this list. So dig out your old games, and look over the covers. If you find a gem, let me know!

Top Ten Most Stylish Retro Games

I adore the weird, the wonderful, and the bizarre. Occasionally games bore me – I have a “Oh look, I’m a secret agent with a gun and I get to shoot people. How about that?” attitude. The nice thing about video games, however, is that unlike Hollywood, even the mainstream games can be absolutely off-the-wall. With the possible exception of sport and racing games anyway – and even some of those franchises slide into the surreal and the odd.

With this in mind, I’m going to bring you my top ten most stylish retro games. Some of them are weird, and some of them are wonderful. They are all interesting. Before we get started, a disclaimer: these are only games I have played, and is not an exhaustive list. There are some notable games missing, so I encourage you to drop me a comment with a recommendation for your own twisted and fantastical favorite.

1. Silent Hill 3

Silent Hill 3 has the most effed up monsters I have ever seen! Those dogs – and the ‘numb body’! I mean seriously, whoever designed these creatures was a genius. The atmosphere helps of course, and the soundtrack ranks as one of my faves. All of the Silent Hills’ have a bizarre element to them (no kidding?), but I think Silent Hill 3 remains at the top of my list.

2. Monkey Island 4

I loved all the Monkey Island’s, with their intricate and mind-bending puzzles. How can you not love a game that has zombie pirates and spitting contests? Monkey Island 4, however, was the best of the bunch for the art style. As soon as the opening cinematic began and I saw those seashell-like clouds I was in love. MI4 is proof that you don’t need to go down the realism route to make a decent game. The quirky art matches up brilliantly with the irreverant story.

3. Final Fantasy IX

I love all the Final Fantasy games too! My first was FF7, and I loved the dystopian city of Midgar. FF8 could have never matched my love of 7, but it was still beautifully designed. It was Final Fantasy 9, however, that really blew me away. The slightly more ‘cutesy’ style was right up my alley, but it was the airships and the cities that really made me happy. The design of the summons was equally good.

Final Fantasy X is also a good looking game, but by that time everything was just getting a bit too similar.

4. Bioshock 1

Bioshock deserves every inch of its success. Rapture is imaginatively realised, with the art deco styling, the graffiti, and that mix of luxury, decadence and ruin. The soundtrack is also up there, not quite beating out SH3, but pretty close. The Big Daddies, the Little Sisters, and even the Splicers are all just different enough to the usual zombie fare to make this game a definite contender.

5. Max Payne 1 & 2

Graphic Novels are vastly under appreciated. By choosing to mix up the film noir, graphic novel and classic FPS styles, Max Payne gained a unique look. I’m a sucker for box art, and the Max Payne box cover was what made me buy the game. I’m glad I did. I really like the approach they took to cut scenes and introducing that bullet time to the world… yummy!

6. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee

A platformer-meets-puzzle game, Abe’s Oddysee casts you as a completely defenceless and rather ugly Mudokon slave in a very strangely designed meat packing plant. Distressingly tricky, especially if you decided to rescue all 100 of your fellow slaves, I loathed and loved this game in equal measures. It is one of the few that made me want to chew through the controller wires in frustration, but the feeling of sheer joy when you finally complete a section is better than drugs.

However, we’re talking style here, not gameplay. And Abe’s Oddysee has oodles of it. The alien creatures are weird and very scary, the environments are beautifully realised and atmospheric, and that meat packing plant still haunts my nightmares.

7. God of War

As previously mentioned, I hate button mashing games. God of War, however, somehow manages to escape my usual disgust, mostly through it’s awesome concept artwork, flashy and beautiful combat, and kick-ass mythological monsters. I die often, but I really don’t mind playing through different sections again and again since it’s not everyday you get to battle a hydra or a cyclops.

8. World of Warcraft

I couldn’t really leave this one off the list. I remember the first time I saw the screenshots of the Dwarf on a Gryphon, and how my immediate response was: I want this game!. I’ve always loved Blizzard’s cinematics, which were better directed than most films. The design of the races, the cities, the creatures … and yes, even that slightly cartoony style they have going on all contributes to make me love this game even more. I can live without the music, but riding into Stormwind always make me happy to be Alliance.

9. Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2

Like most people, when I heard the words “Disney” and “Final Fantasy” in the same sentence I almost died laughing. And, like most people, I was wrong. Kingdom Hearts kicks ass. The Disney and Squaresoft styles ended up complimenting each other, the character designs were great, it was cute, it was funny, and I became very attached to the game. The addition of characters such as Chip ‘n’ Dale appealed to the five year old I once was, whilst throwing Nightmare Before Christmas into the mix meant my grown-up self was equally pleased.

10. Grim Fandango

A mash-up of Mexican folklore and real-estate scandal – who could not love it? This game was, hands-down, the best LucasArts adventure game ever. The art reflects it, with sexy paper-doll like skeleton characters and film-noir environments. You get to be the Grim Reaper, and that alone is worth the price of the game. Which has been remastered recently(-ish) too!

So there you have it – a quick guide to some of the more interesting titles kicking around. Not all of them have massive budgets and thousands of polygons to work with, but they all managed to impress me in one way or another.