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Are games too expensive?

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Aynjell

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
This is just a few thoughts on the subject from my perspective.

It's been asked many times before, if the price of games have risen while the amount of content has decreased, and I will say for the overwhelming majority of titles, that this is the case. But I think that this is a double sided issue, that should be explored with more than just a simple answer. So I will go ahead and give my conflicting thoughts for you all to discuss.

YES:
I can say that most, if not all "triple A" titles are overpriced. When I play games, I aim to be satisfied by the entertainment value, and not the over glorified graphics engine. With costs to produce games sky rocketing, it makes sense for the distributors to MSRP games at 50$ or more, in order to recover costs on development and turn a profit. But I'd argue that development expenses are in vain on these types of titles. Granted, we get good games that are able to justify the cost, on occasion, but regarding the issue as a whole: companies wasting thier time making prettier effects instead of pretty storylines or gameplay mechanics is just plain wrong in my opinion.

On top of that, more times than not I'm coming up against a game that has lost content compared to it's predecessors due to the console's overwhelming market share in the game development industry. PC gamers get "sloppy seconds" from the console guys, with UI that could only be halfway usable on a 360, and inaccurate control over my player character. So not only are we getting second rate titles, but rarely are we getting second rate titles even designed for the system I'm playing it on. So we're getting poorly optimized second rate titles that require overwhelmingly expensive computers to enjoy them at thier fullest. One good example of this flaw would be Quake 4, to Quake 3. Quake 3 to this day enjoys more player attention than Quake 4, and as I found with a few of my playmates that had to turn things down to play it, it looked worse at the same framerates than quake 3 did.

Granted, I preferred quake 4 to quake 3, but it was a natural fit for me.

The average cost of a video game nowadays is 50$, providing that it's new. Paying 50$ for a video game is steep as it is, but then you look into what that gets you and the value continues to go down from there. I complete the average "triple A" titles in 5 hours flat, with most of the games coming with very little in the way of enjoyable content. For example, Mirror's Edge took me 5 hours to beat, according to Xfire. F.E.A.R. 2 took me 4. All things being equal, I enjoyed both games, but I only got 9 hours out of that 100$ worth of games. That puts us in the price range of approximately 10$ an hour to play a video game.

Mirror's Edge was beautiful: it supported PhysX, had rich gameplay with solid mechanics, a somewhat interesting storyline and overall was a very enjoyable gameplay experience, but there really should have been more to it. It was almost the best combat experience I've ever had in a game, and the gameplay pretty much begged you to never pick up a gun. Instead of carrying around 10 heavy *** guns like nameless from doom, I could only hold one gun, and instead of reloading you just tossed the gun. I can respect a character with limitations. yes, she could shoot a gun, but it slowed her down and took her hands away from her. She was better at jumping, punching, and somersalting than she was at her gunplay. If any of you have ever seen "Wanted", the combat plays out very similarly, in that the player ends up running through a scenario picking up and tossing guns as they go, and it's surprisingly fluid. It made for a great combat experience. But at only 5 hours... the music CD it came with has actually seen more playtime for me (the remixes were pretty good, seriously!).

So now that I've stated that I feel games should be longer, I have to touch on the games that are long, but have no place being so. Bioshock for example, should have been a 5 hour game, but I spent 10 hours dying and disarming traps (for a total of 15). What game companies seem to be missing nowadays is this: We don't mind doing the same **** over and over again. Hell, you can give us the exact same thing over and over, and if it's fun, we'll pay to play. For example, if you consider the origional Mario Bros, there was amost zero difference between the first and last level: Get from point A, to point B, stepping on as much **** as possible inbetween; but it was FUN, and consistent. What was fun in bioshock? Fighting big daddy's. But I easily spent more time doing **** I didn't like than anything else!

While a few aspects of the game were nice, there was no incentive to do anything besides click at things that weren't me. The people I encountered all seemed fake and unbelievable, and the atmosphere didn't grab me at all. Granted, I got this title for 20$, and it managed to keep me playing for a total of 15 hours, but at what cost? I spent more time disarming turrets and cameras than doing anything I enjoyed, only to die 2 minutes later because I forgot to check around the NEXT corner for cameras. Then a gang of splicers and helicopter equipped machine guns would chew my *** up, but then I'd show up in the nearest vita chamber and just start the process over. it didn't take long to realize that I'd rather die than waste a med kit. Basically, I finished the game because I paid for it, but that's the last time I take reccomendations on a game.

So now that we've established a cost, at roughly 50$ for a new title, and I have an average play time in the newer titles of about 5 hours, we're talking 10$/hr to play a video game. Assuming that you have a LAN center in your area, most of them charge in the ballpark of 5$ an hour. Sure, I don't have all the luxiries of having the fastest PC around, but I do get to play through and beat the same 5 hour game for only 25$, so I'm saving money! It's possible that that game might not be available at that particular LAN center, but I'm simply making a case for my thesis on game prices, yes it is too expensive when I can pay to play them at a per hourly rate and save money. And to think I used to think 5 dollars for an hour of gameplay was steep, but nowadays, that's cheap! And that's not even counting the cost I gladly paid for the computer to run these half assed titles! I've dumped almost a 1000$ in my PC this year just in upgrades, and yet, I'm still getting nowhere near the type of return I'd expect from this type of investment. I remember when I bought FF7 for PC, it cost me 15$, and I got 80 hours out of it and then I played it again, and again. And I enjoyed every freaking second of it.

So yes, the vast majority of PC games are too expensive in this day and age. And that's before considering the cost of a new PC, custom or not.

NO:

Now, I'm going to argue against myself, because I do feel that not all games fit the same mold. I've run into a number of cases where PC gaming has paid for itself several times over. As a rule, if bethesda made it, it's worth paying for. And it used to be the case for Epic, but Unreal Tournament 3 hasn't grabbed me at all. Unreal Tournament 2004 was a steal with the epic game pack I bought a while back, including Unreal II, Unreal Tournament GOTY, and Unreal Tournament 2004.

If you were to play Fallout 3, for example, which in my opinion is one of my all time best game experiences, you could easily get 50 hours out of a single campaign, providing you followed through with every part of the game. I think Fallout 3 was the first game I actually got excited about prior to release, and actually enjoyed playing it., and it's actually the first game that I felt a need to play with the designer tools.

Not to mention, some times it's just fun to go out exploring doing absolutely nothing but wasting raiders and blowing up busses. To me there's pretty, then there's interactivep retty. Fallout 3, as a rule, worked the way I'd expect a game of it's class to work. If we were to say you'd create a character that was good, bad, and inbetween, that's roughly 40 to 50 hours each time through, all with thier own rewarding experiences... And at 50$ that's still a value of 33 cents an hour of gaming. That's got most triple A titles beat 30 times over. This, folks, is why we own PC's, to have a game we can play for hours on end that rewards us with good graphics, but also an interactive storyline and enjoyable charcters and events.

Another type of game that really seems to give back to me are games with a solid gameplay mechanic. I already talked about Mirror's Edge, and while I would say it's not a 50$ game, it's a GOOD game. When it goes down in price, buy it. But there are other games that fit that mold, for example, I'm a fan of the katamari game series, because the game mechanic is simple: roll a big ball around, pick stuff up so your ball gets bigger, so you can pick up bigger stuff. Rinse and repeat. It takes any gamer back to the days where games were simple, but could keep you playing because you were interested in beating your high score. Because the game was simple to learn but hard to master, I actually spent time playing the games!

Another epic game with solid mechanics was Portal. I didn't have any guns, I just had a device that let me bend the rules. Solving puzzles with tools like this typically engross me more than anything out there.

Then there are times where games are enjoyable enough to simply be a good time sink. World of Warcraft has proven to faithfully fill this role in my life. During times when I was almost on my last time, I'd subscribe to world of warcraft. WoW, a good CD, and a tall boy of whatever would get me through a night completely entertained, wihtout going out and spending money on a date, or a movie or even when I used to race. But that's about the limit of it. Game's rarely deliver on thier cost, and that's my opinion.

What are your thoughts, guys and gals? I'm sure I'm not seeing some things.
 

Rich'[ard]

Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2008
Location
Melb, AUS
i think the price of games, followed by the lack of quality from some titles, has led to many ppl downloading them illegally instead of buying them.
 

rainless

Old Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2006
But I think that this is a double sided issue, that should be explored with more than just a simple answer.

And I think it shouldn't be explored at all! For the following reasons:

1. You won't be able to use your analysis to get women.
2. You have zero influence over the price of games.
3. You could be eating a sandwich.
4. Simple answers do just fine.

Portal was included in the Orange Box for 49.99 when it came out. I paid $2.49 for it last month and I paid $2 for audio surf.

The Penny Arcade game would've been fifty bucks back in the 80's... it's now a downloadable title for $14.99

Just picked up the #1 smash hit Killzone 2 for $51.99 with free shipping from Amazon. Paid $19.99 for Left 4 Dead, $29.99 for Fallout 3, and $19.99 for Mercs 2 (PS3)

Maybe you haven't been around long enough to know what games USED to cost... but I would say "No... They are not too expensive."
 

Codeman05

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2002
Location
US
Honestly, I'm ok with the pricing. I don't mind 40-50 bucks for a good game.
Crap games typically discount quick, and I don't buy them otherwise if at all.

I usually buy my games through Steam now. And a lot of times wait for the the weekend to take advantage of their sales. I don't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure the prices I paid 10-12 years ago for games weren't much cheaper.
 

Bandit1

Registered
Joined
Dec 19, 2008
40-50 bucks sounds fair.I have a good idea of what kind of work goes into a well made game.A well made game i will play for years,not months,and i consider all the time spent playing,rather than other, more expensive things i might have been doing and right now in this economy it sounds like a smart move,lol.What a great justification,so true:D
 
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Aynjell

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
And I think it shouldn't be explored at all! For the following reasons:

1. You won't be able to use your analysis to get women.
2. You have zero influence over the price of games.
3. You could be eating a sandwich.
4. Simple answers do just fine.

Portal was included in the Orange Box for 49.99 when it came out. I paid $2.49 for it last month and I paid $2 for audio surf.

The Penny Arcade game would've been fifty bucks back in the 80's... it's now a downloadable title for $14.99

Just picked up the #1 smash hit Killzone 2 for $51.99 with free shipping from Amazon. Paid $19.99 for Left 4 Dead, $29.99 for Fallout 3, and $19.99 for Mercs 2 (PS3)

Maybe you haven't been around long enough to know what games USED to cost... but I would say "No... They are not too expensive."

GET Women? As in plural? I've got a woman, and she's better than most WOMEN, and she buys me games on occasion. So your first point is lost on me.

Secondly, the vocal amongst us have changed some things. And its this attitude that causes a group of persons to lose thier control, so your second point is also lost on me.

Third, I don't need a sandwich, I just had noodles.

And fourth, simple answers work for simple situations that are clear and easily defined. This is an issue relating to personal opinion, so simple answers don't do just fine.

Anyway, on to portal and audio surf, yes, portal was more or less a freebie for me too. I didn't buy the orange box because of it, it was just something on the side, but I remember it better than ep 1 and ep 2. And the penny arcade game looks nice, but I couldn't get into it as much as would be required to buy it. I did get into sam and max, though.

Honestly, I'm ok with the pricing. I don't mind 40-50 bucks for a good game.
Crap games typically discount quick, and I don't buy them otherwise if at all.

I usually buy my games through Steam now. And a lot of times wait for the the weekend to take advantage of their sales. I don't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure the prices I paid 10-12 years ago for games weren't much cheaper.

What was the last "good game" you paid 50$ for, though? My point is, the amount of time we get in return for our hard earned dollar is sub par compared to games I used to play. They all had substance and replayability, as well as enjoyable and long play times.
 

GT3mich

Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2007
Location
Birmingham,Michigan
I don't have a problem buying a PC game for $49.99 on release day if its a title I really want. The problem I have is with DRM. I would like more than 3 installs with the game I just bought.
 

Aztroth

Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2008
Location
Apollo Beach, FL
I look at it like this:

How much do I get paid per hour? how much do I pay per hour to play? I will ALWAYS buy Final Fantasy games because they greatly entertain me, and will keep me going for days if not weeks trying to do all the extra stuff. Star Ocean: Till the End of time is another good example. I have well over 200 hours logged in that game. Its great how much content is in that game! endless tower of mazes and puzzles filled with bad guys anyone?

No, I dont think games are over priced, but I do think the overall reward from them has generally diminished. I have no problem spending $13 per month on FFXI. at 10+ hours per week of game play at least, Im looking at 40 hours for $13. that to me is simple math. As for new games, I generally avoid buying a game until after I hear how good it is, or if Im interested in the multplayer (the SOCOM series in particular. I got Halo when it first came out and no1 knew what it was, and then I played Halo 2, and I didn't even buy Halo 3, I just went to a friends house, and we beat it inside of 3 hours on Legendary.)
 

Zurvan

Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2008
Gaming is nobody's right. Its a luxury. Those who can afford it, can have it. Those who cant shouldnt complain.

Afterall, its all the market forces that drive the pricing system. People MUST be buying games happily at $50, thats the reason publishers sell at that price. If the customers feel the price is too high for them to afford, all they can do is NOT BUY them. If this is a mass phenomena, the publisher will be forced to lower price to drive sales.

For me, I never buy any game before trying it out. If I am still playing that game after 2-3 days, I buy it. Else I uninstall it.
 
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Aynjell

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Gaming is nobody's right. Its a luxury. Those who can afford it, can have it. Those who cant shouldnt complain.

Afterall, its all the market forces that drive the pricing system. People MUST be buying games happily at $50, thats the reason publishers sell at that price. If the customers feel the price is too high for them to afford, all they can do is NOT BUY them. If this is a mass phenomena, the publisher will be forced to lower price to drive sales.

For me, I never buy any game before trying it out. If I am still playing that game after 2-3 days, I buy it. Else I uninstall it.

I've never been able to play a demo for 2-3 days. I'd like to see the kind of demos you're trying.
As for your approval of the current pricing, I myself also feel it's fair that we pay 50$ for a fine title. What I'm saying is, I haven't gotten what I paid for in quite some time. It's simply been too long since a game with some real substance has come out.
 

zexmarquies01

Member
Joined
May 27, 2002
Location
Ohio
This is why I tend to stick to RTS's, and RPG's, or Online games ( non-mmo as well, such as FPS's ). They tend to give me the most number of hours of entertainment for my money.

I also try to figure out how much money i'm paying an hour for a game. I read reviews before buying *most* games anymore. If it's short, I generally ignore it. ( though, there are exceptions ).

This is why I tend to play Final Fantasy, War Craft 1/2/3, Diablo 2, KOTOR 1 and 2, Mass Effect, and random FPS's with a good multiplayer ( L4D, Team Fortress 2, Battlefield 2, Unreal tournament. )

though generally, I don't care about the price itself. It's the industry standard. What annoys me is crappy level designs, shotty story's, boring repetitive gameplay because the developers were either to lazy to make more fun things to do, or the publisher wanted to get the game out ASAP, thus releasing the game WAY to early ( thus giving us very little fun features. )


Honestly, My biggest pet Peeve is that PC games are $50, yet Console games are $60. The Exact same game will have a $10 difference, and some times, the PC version has more features or is better. And the only thing that i can think of to account for this $10 price hike is that the console makers ( sony/Microsoft ) is forcing the prices higher, so they can make more cash.
 

Omsion

Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2006
I point out that "AAA" games are cheaper inflation-adjusted than they were 10 years ago. Even with the bump to $60 on the X360 and PS3. It's a possible arguement that the quantity of games worth their full price has decreased, but I really can't say anything concrete on this.

And for PC games in particular, if you're willing to wait a month or so, you can easily find 1/2 prices. And don't purchase willy-nilly, pick and choose what you'll still be playing a year from now.

I'd say I'm coming out ahead, at least.
 

Niku-Sama

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
it depends on the game

like Dynasty Warriors Gundam is still like $60 at frys when i was up in p-town, thats nuts its been out a while and its not all that popular
 

Zurvan

Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2008
I've never been able to play a demo for 2-3 days. I'd like to see the kind of demos you're trying.
Did I say Demo ?
Its like rewarding good games by buying.

I agree with zexmarquies Strategy,RPG and Online FPS provide the highest content value.
 
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Aynjell

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Did I say Demo ?
Its like rewarding good games by buying.

I agree with zexmarquies Strategy,RPG and Online FPS provide the highest content value.

So what you're saying is, you pirate the games first, and then buy them? But isn't that illegal?
 

redrumy3

Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2006
Location
New York
According to valve they may be too expensive

http://www.edge-online.com/features/valve-are-games-too-expensive

Games may be too expensive.

That is the message Valve Software President Gabe Newell gave the assembled developers at the annual DICE Summit on Wednesday. While the topic of his keynote was the game industry's transition from retail industry to service industry, he revealed sales data from Steam that suggests games are too expensive.

The reason why few have arrived at this conclusion is because you cannot easily experiment with pricing at retail, says Newell. But you can with Steam, Valve's burgeoning digital distribution platform.
On the PC-only Steam service, a wide range of prices are attached to games, and attractive weekend deals throw more pricing variability into the mix. Although Valve was initially afraid that volatility or variability in pricing would confuse or anger its customers--or even cannibalize retail sales--Newell says that was not all the case.
In fact, it dramatically increased sales. Illustrating his point, Newell showed the results of a Left 4 Dead promotion Valve ran last weekend, which cut the price of the game in half to $25. The discount (and promise of new content for the game) rocketed sales of the game on Steam by 3,000 percent.

"We sold more in revenue this last weekend than we did when we launched the product," says Newell. "We were driving a huge uptick in revenue and attracting new customers." And while people believe that we're "screwing" retail, Newell showed that brick-and-mortar sales were unaffected by the online discount.
This phenomenon is not limited to Valve games. Over the holidays, Steam discounted third-party titles. Sales increased 300 percent and units-sold increased by 600 percent.
Still skeptical? Newell said that a weekend sale of one third-party title drove that game's sales up by 18,000 percent and units-sold increased 36,000 percent. It energized the user base, says Newell. When the sale ended, baseline sales were double what they were prior to the weekend discount.

Discounting games does not only increase unit sales--it increases actual revenues. During the 16-day sale window over the holidays, third-parties were given a choice as to how severely they would discount their games. Those that discounted their games by 10 percent saw a 35% uptick in sales--that's dollars, not units. A 25 percent discount meant a 245 percent increase in sales. Dropping the price by 50 percent meant a sales increase of 320 percent. And a 75 percent decrease in the price point generated a 1,470 percent increase in sales.

The conclusion: The games industry is not pricing its products correctly. It's only through the experimentation that such services as Steam allows will the industry be able to find the golden ratio of price and sales. As Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences President Joseph Olin concluded Wednesday night, this is going to generate a lot of controversy about pricing.
 

rallyfan1986

Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2007
First of all nice article Aynjell.

I would just like to add my views now:

I dont mind paying £30-£35 for a game, as long as it is fun to play and i get value for money. One example is GTA4, great game, fun story line however it crashes every half hour! not what I would expect from a top game.

Another point from one of the posts above is about high prices/low quality games leading to game piracy.

I have read that Spore was the most pirated game of 2008. I was one of the stupid people to actually buy this, the first hour or so was entertaining, but then i got bored and its sat on my shelf for the past 4 months.

But if these people didnt download the game would they have bought it.

As often as I can I try to download the demo of a game, as even if it only lasts 30mins, it gives you an idea of the game play/ graphics/ story line.

This leads me onto what do I want from a game: I would first off like a good story line; good game play; optimised for PC; will work on most hardware setups; graphics.

One point i noted from your original post was refering to the amount of time you played the game for: I would much rather have 5 hours of great gameplay, than 15 hours of boring gameplay.

Sorry if this post is a bit jumbled up, I think i managed to get all my points across
 
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Aynjell

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
First of all nice article Aynjell.

I would just like to add my views now:

I dont mind paying £30-£35 for a game, as long as it is fun to play and i get value for money. One example is GTA4, great game, fun story line however it crashes every half hour! not what I would expect from a top game.

Another point from one of the posts above is about high prices/low quality games leading to game piracy.

I have read that Spore was the most pirated game of 2008. I was one of the stupid people to actually buy this, the first hour or so was entertaining, but then i got bored and its sat on my shelf for the past 4 months.

But if these people didnt download the game would they have bought it.

As often as I can I try to download the demo of a game, as even if it only lasts 30mins, it gives you an idea of the game play/ graphics/ story line.

This leads me onto what do I want from a game: I would first off like a good story line; good game play; optimised for PC; will work on most hardware setups; graphics.

One point i noted from your original post was refering to the amount of time you played the game for: I would much rather have 5 hours of great gameplay, than 15 hours of boring gameplay.

Sorry if this post is a bit jumbled up, I think i managed to get all my points across

Oh, I quite agree with you. but in the case of mirror's edge, the gameplay mechanic was the fun part. they could have added in a few more dialogs at the cost of 2 or 3 more levels. You know, a few more leads to help you along with your quest to save your sister. There really should have been more content.

Also, like I pointed out, Fallout 3, and Oblivion also, have provided a combined gametime of 200 hours. I'd say that it was worth the 50$. For Mirror's Edge, cost was 10/hr to play. For fallout and oblivion, it's, at this point in time, roughly 2$/hr. I'd consider that relaly good value... and I'm not even done playing it. I still enjoy the games.