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.