Walk into any video game store around the world and you’ll see it. It’s stares you right in the face as you walk up and down the store’s aisles or browse it’s eight-foot-tall walls of shelves. It’s the game that you paid 60 bucks for looking back at you — mocking you even — while wearing a sticker on it displaying one third of the price you paid. We’ve all been there before. It’s for that very reason that I am done shelling out 60 of my hard earned dollars for games and why you should too.
Don’t get me wrong, like many of you I too become just as (if not more so) excited as anyone else when it comes to new games. Nothing gets my blood pumping like finding out that one of my favorite publishers has a fresh IP or a tantalizing sequel to a popular franchise in the works. And as much as I like the big name multi-player heavy titles such as the Call of Duty’s or the Battlefield’s of the world; for the most part its usually the single player experiences that conjure up these kinds of emotions.
When it comes to these single player experiences, what exactly is the rush to run out and buy? What’s the point of pre-ordering and lining up at midnight to pay top dollar for a title when the experience will be exactly the same 6 months later at half the price? Let’s use Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 as an example. Sure it’s been on the 360 for about 18 months, and it’s $20 price on Amazon certainly reflects that. But the very same title on the PS3 (with a better graphics engine and all the DLC mind you), which released seven months ago is still only $30 on the same site. As more and more people jump onto the hype train that is Mass Effect 3, wouldn’t now or better yet, closer to March of next year be a better time to freshen up for the next title in the series?
I’m sure that most will (like the publishers) argue that the price of games has gone up along with the higher cost of production or the level of risk involved, and I don’t doubt that. But it’s certainly not $60 worth. It was when we made the transition to the current generation of consoles that publishers took it upon themselves to decide the new price for what’s considered standard, and if you do enough research you too will find out that this mythical price point, is nothing but that — a myth. Games are $60 because its what consumers are willing to pay, simple as that. Its the equivalent of me handing someone a 50 cent roll of pennies and then assuring them that its worth 10 dollars, simply because I said it was.
Eventually (and I’m sure developers will agree) something will come along that will put the power back in to the hands of the creators and consumers. Mobile gaming is currently doing just that with company’s like Rovio and Zynga making a killing on iOS and Android, and rightfully so considering that it’s their hard work — not some publisher’s — as the reason why they are successful. Sure they still give up a piece of the pie (20% on iOS) but for the most part the experiences for those devices are priced as they should be and most importantly the money is getting into the hands that deserve it.
It’s a similar idea to how the music industry has changed with bands like Radiohead selling their albums for the price of “whatever you want to pay for it,” taking the power out of the hands of labels. Sure the situation may be a little different for them because instead of making money off of their recordings, they now make their money through performances. And come to think of it games have found a way to make a crap ton of money through DLC and microtransactions.
After spending almost three years getting a real understanding on how the industry works, and what goes into (successfully) shipping a game, I get why a company will try to grab as much as they can. But then when you have situtations like THQ’s Homefront, which received a price drop almost immediately after release even after the publisher declared that the title had a $25 million dollar price tag, it makes you wonder what happened. Why was it magically no longer worth 60 bucks? Well here’s the truth: it’s a bulls*it price that we shouldn’t be paying to begin with and I personally won’t any more.