Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The price of games

PC Games are getting more expensive (again). When I started playing and buying PC games (1995) the prices were between €45 (100 guilders) and €70 (150 guilders). At the time of 1997 the prices dropped to €35 and €45. The last couple of years the prices converged to about €40 a game. But recently the prices started increasing to €50. It somewhat started with Half Life 2 and Doom 3. These games were the first games to use €40+ prices for their normal package. And now pretty much all games that are released have this price tag.

It's not like games are getting better or contain more hours of enjoyment. I think €40 is quite a lot for a game. Specially if the replay value is low. Sure, watching a movie in the theatre is even more expensive (but that's just a bad comparission). The whole problem is that I can only spend money once. And when I have to fork over a large amouth I will think longer about it (and eventually not buy it). I often pick up games from bargin bins, and not even play them. Or I do play them for a while and then stop because I didn't like it afterall. But for an full price game I will think much longer, if there isn't even a demo of the game I can't even try it out. So why should I fork over a large amouth of money just to buy a game that eventually was crap. It's not like I could get my money back if I was disappointed. If the game was less expensive it wouldn't matter that much.

If a game would cost about €30 I would buy it much faster than a €50 game. In fact, I would buy two €30 games more easily than a single €50 game. With high prices game creators will have to compete with eachother more than they would have to compete with lower prices. If more consumers feel like this popular games might see less revenue, but less popular games would see more. But the less popular games would become more popular. So in the end the publisher will earn more. (2*30 > 50; yes it really is).

Recently there has been a new development, episodic content. Instead of paying € 50 for a game you pay 3 times € 20 (which equals € 60) for the game. Or something like that. I thought Half Life 2 Episode 2 wasn't great, in fact it was quite boring, it didn't add much to what Half Life 2 already gave. It was more of a poor expansion pack. A lot of others think it was great or something, and even tho the game had only 4 hours of gameplay with a low replay value people thought "Hey! It was only € 20 so screw it". I'm not saying episodic content is the way of the future, I rather play a complete story, and not have to wait over a year before I can continue it. It's more that apperently people don't care much about the € 20. If you are going episodic make sure your episodes can stand on their own, it's pretty much like the old sharware days.