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Are games being priced cheaply hurting gaming?

Posted: 13th March 2012 20:30

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We as gamers are consumers, and we definitely like to spend the least amount of money to get the most stuff, at least when considering our own personal finances. We applaud sales on Steam and Humble Indie Bundle offerings. But are cheap games having an effect of depressing prices and/or revenues, especially in the independent ("indie") game sub-market?

Discuss.

This thread was spawned from this thread on SteamGifts about indie bundles and the values of games, which also touches on their tradeability (which is kinda unique to Steam). FYI I'm "QuintSakugarne" on there; you can post there too if you're a Steam user.

Among the comments in that thread is a link to this blog post by Cliffski of Positech Games, the developer of Gratuitous Space Battles.

One of the comments to that is from David Amador of Different Pixel, the developer of Vizati, who links to his own blog post on the issue. Some comments to this post also touch on distributor registration fees (which is broadly also related to such issues as the costs of console development kits and console developing, as well as publishing costs in general--as consoles can be seen, in a way, as a publishing tool).

Just wanted to throw out some existing commentary about this issue; I don't necessarily endorse any of these opinions (as I haven't yet formed my own). Not sure I totally agree with Amador on Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars, as point-and-click-style adventures (of which that game is one, kinda) are indeed one of the less expensive genres to produce, but also offer relatively little replay value.

That said, does this necessarily mean that the game isn't "worth" $7.99? How does one make normative judgements about the value of a videogame anyway? Perhaps you could divide development and maintenance costs by total expected unit sales, though I know very little about the development budget of these games. All I know is that it took Carpe Fulgur (the localizers of Recettear: an Item Shop's Tale) about US$20,000 (based on my estimations) to localize Chantelise: a Tale of Two Sisters--and that's localization, not development from scratch.



(cross-posted to It Just Bugs Me!)

This post has been edited by Glenn Magus Harvey on 13th March 2012 22:04

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Posted: 13th March 2012 22:30

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Interesting debate topic. I'm pretty hard-headed about this (and a lot of other stuff). As a consumer who plays about 6 hours of games a week on average and from reading the blogs you linked I just think "what do they expect?". There's a lot of different problems. First of all a lot of people don't have the money or the state of mind they once did to spend mass amounts of cash on games on a regular basis. Secondly piracy flourishes in a high-cost market so cheaper games with benefits like online play, achievements and leaderboards will be one of the only things that can break it. Thirdly people aren't stupid; if Steam is going to have a sale in the next few months they'll wait for it or play something else that is reduced. And I think the last problem for indie developers is franchising and sequels. If you look at the biggest sellers it tends to be sequels that people are familiar with and want a continuation of a story or type of game, e.g. Final Fantasy, Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls, Fifa, Call of Duty. A lot of indie games that are successful don't have this pull for a future game to get people to spend more. So even taking their points on board I would say that they should expect what's happening for the reasons I gave above. Lots of people play indie games not just the gamers who invest a lot of time and money into it. In a lot of ways indie games are good because they encourage this broader casual market. They shouldn't expect a bigger share of the hardcore gamers if their games are for a different group.

However I would stress that the price should be what people are prepared to spend and it's clear that this has fallen a little too low. The extremes of £0.99 games are a little unnecessary. A sort of minimum limit of £5 would be reasonable. For me games have always been far too expensive. It's not like I can't afford it but the only reason I can afford it is because I'm not careless in buying anything. If the price is being rebalanced now that's definitely a good thing. I don't think it's as bad as they're making out however. Going on Steam I can see a lot of good indie games selling for between £7-15 and to me that's completely acceptable.

So in short I don't have a lot of sympathy for the developers. Berating consumers for expecting more from games and spending as little as possible is hardly fair. What do these people expect? I'm sorry your game isn't Call of Duty but you're going to have to live with that. In some ways indie games thrive on goodwill and losing that will hardly help.

This post has been edited by sweetdude on 13th March 2012 22:31

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Posted: 13th March 2012 23:42

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Quote (sweetdude @ 13th March 2012 22:30)
First of all a lot of people don't have the money or the state of mind they once did to spend mass amounts of cash on games on a regular basis. Secondly piracy flourishes in a high-cost market so cheaper games with benefits like online play, achievements and leaderboards will be one of the only things that can break it. Thirdly people aren't stupid.

That is most of my argument right there.

When someone gets hurt they learn from what hurt them and endevour to never let that happen again. If the industry is hurt, it will change, gaming is too profitable to die out completely. And people like us will not let it die out.

Also most us know that some games no matter how well hyped are not worth the full price, gamers are more discerning than ever and some developers are listening, the others that aren't are being hurt and thats a good thing.
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Posted: 14th March 2012 01:44

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Quote (sweetdude @ 13th March 2012 17:30)
So in short I don't have a lot of sympathy for the developers. Berating consumers for expecting more from games and spending as little as possible is hardly fair. What do these people expect? I'm sorry your game isn't Call of Duty but you're going to have to live with that. In some ways indie games thrive on goodwill and losing that will hardly help.

I wasn't sure what I was going to say about this topic, or even where the topic would be steered, when I saw this thread pop up. Now, I don't need to. Thanks, sweets.

I know that indie games are the cool new thing and it's hip to both make and play indie games. There are a few indie games I've played, but to be honest, none of them have converted me in a way that makes me think that they're any better or even really all that different than what you get from a AAA shop. And that's what makes the difference, I think - a small indie shop tends to get a chip on their shoulder that what they've done is truly groundbreaking rather than an evolution of gaming (in many cases, a very cool evolution, but there's nothing new under the sun).

Now, that said, and more to the point, games will cost what the market will bear, nothing more, nothing less. Do I think games are too expensive right now, when you're looking at a new copy of a AAA game? You bet I do - I haven't bought a game at full retail in a very long time, and the last game I bought from any source at full price was Portal 2. If you're making the newest Final Fantasy and want to charge $65 to start, go nuts. You're going to sell copies. If you're EA and making a new IP, you can sell it for $60 because the market is used to it. If you expect the same treatment as an indie dev who self-publishes digitally and hasn't had a retail success before, that's your thing to deal with, not the market's!

There is no "normative" judgment of the price of a game, same as there isn't on a house, or a car, or a stock. With the used game market, the natural decrease in price over a game's shelf life, Steamsales, and accounting for taste, there's just no way to figure out what a game, any game, should cost without just sticking it out there. The best you can do is to follow along with those who came before you - that's kind of how we got to where we are now. If you're a gamer and don't like it, wait for the prices to come down. If you're a dev who doesn't feel you're making enough money, well, charge more for your next game and hope people are willing to pay for it!

And, finally, to directly answer the question posed in the topic: No. Absolutely not. The choice gamers have in what to play is better than it ever has been, if you ask me, and it's at a wide variety of price points. If it weren't, I might not be a gamer any more, myself.

This post has been edited by Rangers51 on 14th March 2012 02:12

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Posted: 14th March 2012 20:32
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Quote (Rangers51 @ 13th March 2012 18:44)
Do I think games are too expensive right now, when you're looking at a new copy of a AAA game? You bet I do

Something to note: The first game I bought - by which I mean my grandpa bought it for me - was Super R-Type for the SNES. It was made in...'91 I believe. It was $72.

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Posted: 14th March 2012 21:53

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Well, in case you were wondering about my own opinion, I actually think that a good number of games are priced--at least base-priced--too high. This is an issue with big-budget triple-A titles, but is not limited to them. In fact, given the large number of sales on Steam that happen on a regular basis, I would not be surprised if most Steam games are somewhat overpriced for their base price in order to accommodate sale discounts. This goes for indie games too.

Now, just how low should the price go, and should it really have a floor--I'm not sure, to be honest. I'd say that for most games--at least ones that don't involve continuous costs (such as official servers)--the costs of selling additional copies is relatively cheap, especially by digital distribution (and especially if you also have a platform like Steam or Desura to push out updates conveniently). So based on that, one could conclude that, after recouping development costs, the game could be worth as little as a cent more than distribution costs and still turn a profit. Though I don't know how easy it is to define development costs, and even if they can be easily defined, one could argue that the studio would benefit from accumulating capital that could be invested in future projects. Perhaps a "proper" valuation of a game depends also on the scope of implications of its price that one is willing to consider.

I guess I am personally more friendly to indie games and indie developers, for a few reasons: (1) my computer can't run top-of-the-line games, but tends to do much better with lower-tech games, which are more typically indie games; (2) indie computer games are more likely than games of major publishers to be similar to console-style games, which I'm a bigger fan of; (3) my financial contributions (by purchasing, donating, or however) find their way more easily to developers whom I want to reward/support because I like their products ("voting with my dollars"); and (4) indie developers are more likely to be opposed to bad policies like SOPA/PIPA (another form of "voting with my dollars"). Oh, and (5) I don't have much money.

That said, I admit to being rather cheap myself; I haven't bought a game on Steam that wasn't discounted (which kinda relates to earlier points about Steam sales), and I did buy both the indie bundles I've gotten by only barely beating the average. In my defence though, while I paid average + $0.01 for the Humble Introversion Bundle, I bought two bundles in quick succession; I paid average + $0.02 for the first Indie Gala bundle because that was all that I had left in my gaming budget (read: account on a web payment service); and I bought a $4.99 copy of Recettear to gift away after being gifted that game when it was being sold extremely cheaply.

(Listed base price of Recettear is $19.99. Typical discount is to $9.99. About two days a year it goes down to $4.99 for a daily deal. But during the first holiday season it was on Steam, it was featured in what was effectively a bundle on Steam, the Indie Story Pack (I think), for a total price of $4.99--which would mean about $1 for Recettear, before Steam commission, which I don't know for sure but I've estimated based on one secondhand source at about 30%. So $0.69 for the game. It was a gift so it's not like I had a direct say in the matter, though I did graciously accept it.)

As I mentioned above, I don't have much of an income currently, and sometimes I do feel I might be more generous in rewarding developers (and other content creators) that I like if I had more money to budget to entertainment. However, this is all hypothetical at this point, so there's not much more to say about this apart from mere speculation. Furthermore, things like "voting with one's dollar" are not really on most people's minds when they approach buying games; I'd guess for most people interested in buying a game, the biggest factors are its price, their budget, their opinion of the "worth" of the game relative to its price (where worth is based on a ton of other factors, some completely beyond the game's design itself), and opportunity cost (of missing the timing of a sale).

And I should stop rambling, for now at least.

FWIW, MadassAlex on IJBM has gone on a slight tangent claiming that the problem with the game industry isn't pricing, but rather the power of publishers. Discussion of this point starts here. You're invited to join that forum if you want to respond to things there (I'm an admin on it).

^ I think the most I've spent on a single game is about $35 (of my parents' money, technically). But this doesn't include the Super Game Boy, which IIRC was more (at least $60 or so). I do remember the days when major SNES RPGs were being sold at $59.99 and up because I would balk at the price of Super Mario RPG. (I also have a scan of a 1997 Square ad on my computer, advertising FFII for $69.99 and FFIII and CT for $79.99.)

This post has been edited by Glenn Magus Harvey on 14th March 2012 22:00

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Posted: 14th March 2012 23:16

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Quote (Narratorway @ 14th March 2012 15:32)
Something to note: The first game I bought - by which I mean my grandpa bought it for me - was Super R-Type for the SNES. It was made in...'91 I believe. It was $72.

I paid $69.99 for my release-day copy of Final Fantasy III. Doesn't mean I don't think games are too expensive now, I just had a lot more disposable income for games back then! smile.gif

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Posted: 15th March 2012 14:57

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I fail to see how discounts would hurt a copyright based industry more than any other. Sales have always been rather commonplace occurrences in every industry. I mean, I could go to Newegg, Amazon or maybe even eBay right now and find a lot of items undercutting M.S.R.P. or I could go to a clearance sale, a black friday sale, ect. ect.

This is even moreso particularly since you're curious about digital downloads, where the costs of materials, storage and distribution are cut down to an absolute minimum. Most of the cost is going to be in the capital investment, which is important primarily because pendent on the shape of the market, you may want to sacrifice M.S.R.P. for sales (or visa versa.)

If I sell 1,000,000 copies of a game at a price of $2.00 each for 2 million dollars, I'm going to earn $500,000 more than if I'd sold 100,000 copies of that game at $15 each. Granted, if I can command a $50 price tag for those same 100,000 copies, the earnings will more than double those of $1,000,000 sales and could cost less, which I might prefer even at the bereft of fans but making a game that enough people might value at that price might not be easy. However it should be possible if I could tap into (or hopefully even create) an affluent niche market.

Preferably I'll want to do both, which could be possible if the bulk majority of my higher paying customers are willing to pay that amount to have the game A.S.A.P. as I could gradually scale down the price until everybody who'd ever wanted to buy it owns a copy. However if that's not in the cards, that doesn't necessarily mean the venture won't be lucrative.

Moreover there might be other reasons for these discounts, the most obvious being as a marketing tool: If I give some lucky on the fence customers a discount to entice them into playing my game over another, they'll have the chance to experience the game and maybe entice their friends to play it.

Having the copyright in this case is all about managing artificial scarcity and so long as the copyright holder is the one making the offer, I wouldn't feel in the least bit guilty in the least about underpaying until that offer was done with.

Quote ("G.M.H.")
That said, does this necessarily mean that the game isn't "worth" $7.99? How does one make normative judgements about the value of a videogame anyway?


Customers just don't seek normative value, they seek best value and they should do it via comparative shopping and managing their budget against what you covet right now. If you have $60 to spend, would you rather spend it on 60 cheap but fun diversions for your smart phone, four of the hottest 'indie' titles or that one absolutely beautiful high budget production which you'll be playing for weeks on end, comes in a nicely designed little box? Is it worth it to have to wait 3 years for a bundle to come out, as was the case with say Aquaria? Are you just as excited to play other cheaply available games or has your desire diminished over time? Will these games remain readily available on the market? There are too many considerations to go through effectively but I think that covers the gist of it...

Regarding cheapening the value of the same game with a sale, although I wouldn't say the logic never applies, that's generally kinda silly. That was then, this is now. If they don't have it now, after the deal is over, and want to play it, how exactly do they plan to go about that if there's not a venue supplying such a deal currently? Piracy? If so, why bother trading games at all then, if you can have everything you want for what's effectively free?

Quote (R51)
I paid $69.99 for my release-day copy of Final Fantasy III.


My friend, I hate to say this but I think you got ripped off... You could've waited 17+ years and gotten the portable Gameboy Advance version for under half that price at only $30 or maybe even $25. tongue.gif

This post has been edited by Tonepoet on 15th March 2012 15:10

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Posted: 16th March 2012 03:37

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Quote (Rangers51 @ 14th March 2012 19:16)
Quote (Narratorway @ 14th March 2012 15:32)
Something to note: The first game I bought - by which I mean my grandpa bought it for me - was Super R-Type for the SNES.  It was made in...'91 I believe.  It was $72.

I paid $69.99 for my release-day copy of Final Fantasy III. Doesn't mean I don't think games are too expensive now, I just had a lot more disposable income for games back then! smile.gif

Those prices kind of make sense, because cartridges are more expensive to manufacture than discs, according to Wikipedia.

It's hard to figure out if video games are priced correctly. Those things are difficult to really decide. I'm sure that for most of us, video games certainly feel over-priced, but production costs are high and the amount of entertainment value is high also.

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Posted: 16th March 2012 08:44
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Quote (BlitzSage @ 15th March 2012 20:37)
Those prices kind of make sense, because cartridges are more expensive to manufacture than discs, according to Wikipedia.

Where do the manufacturing costs factor in for the price of this game? Price-fixing has been a long standing tradition in the videogame industry.

This post has been edited by Narratorway on 16th March 2012 08:45

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Posted: 16th March 2012 20:56

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I think Skyrim's priced that high in part because everyone frankly expects it to be priced that high. First, they do have a lot of people willing to buy at that price point, and even if they didn't, pricing it any lower might suggest that the game or series is not on solid footing.

Quote (Tonepoet)
If I sell 1,000,000 copies of a game at a price of $2.00 each for 2 million dollars, I'm going to earn $500,000 more than if I'd sold 100,000 copies of that game at $15 each. Granted, if I can command a $50 price tag for those same 100,000 copies, the earnings will more than double those of $1,000,000 sales and could cost less, which I might prefer even at the bereft of fans but making a game that enough people might value at that price might not be easy. However it should be possible if I could tap into (or hopefully even create) an affluent niche market.

Preferably I'll want to do both, which could be possible if the bulk majority of my higher paying customers are willing to pay that amount to have the game A.S.A.P. as I could gradually scale down the price until everybody who'd ever wanted to buy it owns a copy. However if that's not in the cards, that doesn't necessarily mean the venture won't be lucrative.


That makes the most sense.

Quote (Tonepoet)
My friend, I hate to say this but I think you got ripped off... You could've waited 17+ years and gotten the portable Gameboy Advance version for under half that price at only $30 or maybe even $25. tongue.gif


And think about the inflation too! tongue.gif


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Posted: 17th March 2012 04:40

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Quote (Narratorway @ 16th March 2012 04:44)
Quote (BlitzSage @ 15th March 2012 20:37)
Those prices kind of make sense, because cartridges are more expensive to manufacture than discs, according to Wikipedia.

Where do the manufacturing costs factor in for the price of this game? Price-fixing has been a long standing tradition in the videogame industry.

That's production costs more than manufacturing. Skyrim is a massive game, probably spent hundreds of dollars through development. That's why they have to charge that much. I agree that companies often fix prices, but some things are beyond their control.

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Posted: 17th March 2012 05:13
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Quote (BlitzSage @ 16th March 2012 21:40)
That's production costs more than manufacturing. Skyrim is a massive game, probably spent hundreds of dollars through development. That's why they have to charge that much. I agree that companies often fix prices, but some things are beyond their control.

I see. So does that mean the physical disc version is the exact same price because it's actually cheaper to produce, but costs more to manufacture and it just happens to come out even to the digital version?

This post has been edited by Narratorway on 17th March 2012 05:14

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Posted: 18th March 2012 15:20

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^ That actually sounds like they made hard copies of the game in order to be able to sell them to people who want hard copies, but then also became afraid they wouldn't sell enough if they charged a higher price for a hard copy due to people who would want hard copies buying the digital version instead thanks to it being cheaper.

Anyone got any numbers on how much it costs to make hard copies?

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Posted: 18th March 2012 21:32

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Quote (Glenn Magus Harvey @ 18th March 2012 10:20)
Anyone got any numbers on how much it costs to make hard copies?

I don't have hard numbers, I haven't had to look into it for a long time. I would estimate that in the quantities that a game might move that you're looking at around a buck a disc for a standard double-layer DVD, including most of the packaging, probably about 80% more for a bluray.

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Posted: 19th March 2012 02:36

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Quote (Narratorway @ 17th March 2012 01:13)
Quote (BlitzSage @ 16th March 2012 21:40)
That's production costs more than manufacturing. Skyrim is a massive game, probably spent hundreds of dollars through development. That's why they have to charge that much. I agree that companies often fix prices, but some things are beyond their control.

I see. So does that mean the physical disc version is the exact same price because it's actually cheaper to produce, but costs more to manufacture and it just happens to come out even to the digital version?

What I mean is, it probably cost them 100-200 million to make, and it probably cost more to create a game for multiple platforms. So, they must charge that price in order to get a strong enough return for investment.

And I'm not sure if PC games are less pricey, because they're packaged too.

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Posted: 19th March 2012 07:11
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Quote (BlitzSage @ 18th March 2012 19:36)
So, they must charge that price in order to get a strong enough return for investment.

By saying that, you are arguing that despite the multitude of radically different methods of manufacture and distribution with equally varying costs, videogames - by and large and for over twenty years - have had budgets that required a $60+ price tag.

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This post has been edited by Narratorway on 19th March 2012 07:13

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Posted: 21st March 2012 05:12

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Hahaha, yes. Cartridges cost more than discs to produce, and these devices each had a limited lifespan (once the 5-7 year console generation was over, they stopped producing that console's cartridges). Those were the two reasons that games were priced the way they were back then.

Nowadays, because of high-dollar digital equipment, producation costs (meaning development of the game itself, not the package) shot through the roof. Digital distribution has probably not lowered that cost enough to force them to lower prices.

Remember, it's a bit unfair to go on as if they have complete control over prices. Most prices are controlled systemically. Those prices are there because there's a certain revenue-to-cost ratio and there are many groups that are trying to make profit.

Now, with all of that being said, I agree that games are overpriced, but I think this for different reasons than most people have discussed here. Real wages have stagnated or dropped for most Americans for the past 30-40 years. This is mostly because we have a regressive tax system. So, since that effects consumption, and since something being over-priced is circumstantial to the amount of money people have, many of us have a lot of trouble keeping up. If we had more disposable income, we probably would not care about the prices the way we do.

I'm just arguing that there's little that we can do to change the prices. Even if we did, the price of one product is not the true problem underlying this topic, or most other financial/economic topics.

This post has been edited by BlitzSage on 21st March 2012 05:25

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Posted: 22nd March 2012 21:46
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Quote (BlitzSage @ 20th March 2012 22:12)
Hahaha, yes. Cartridges cost more than discs to produce, and these devices each had a limited lifespan (once the 5-7 year console generation was over, they stopped producing that console's cartridges). Those were the two reasons that games were priced the way they were back then.

Nowadays, because of high-dollar digital equipment, producation costs (meaning development of the game itself, not the package) shot through the roof. Digital distribution has probably not lowered that cost enough to force them to lower prices.

That still leaves a ten year or more sized gap where neither of those situations existed and the prices remained the same. Logic isn't backing you up here.
Quote (BlitzSage @ 20th March 2012 22:12)
I'm just arguing that there's little that we can do to change the prices.

Except you weren't. You were claiming manufacturing and production costs are why games are priced the way they are.

It is not.

This post has been edited by Narratorway on 22nd March 2012 21:47

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Posted: 24th March 2012 06:50

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Okay, since you're the economist here, enlighten me.

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Posted: 24th March 2012 23:23
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I already did.

Quote (Narratorway @ 16th March 2012 01:44)
Price-fixing has been a long standing tradition in the videogame industry.


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Posted: 26th March 2012 02:02

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So, are you saying that they're fixing prices in order to keep them lower?

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Posted: 26th March 2012 16:15

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It's not as impossible as it might seem Blitzsage. Due to D.R.M. you need to download P.C. copies Skyrim through Steam. The only reason they probably even have a retail box is to act as an eye-catch in the stores where people are considering buying other games at retail value, so it's more of a marketing cost than a necessary cost of materially packaging the product.

Quote (Narratorway)
Except you weren't. You were claiming manufacturing and production costs are why games are priced the way they are.


You were asking about Skyrim specifically, which is as vastly different sort of game than the "indie" titles Glenn was predominantly focused on as it could possibly be. In light of this, it wasn't an unreasonable answer in my own opinion, as big name companies don't necessarily have forever to wait for the money to come. Moreover a lot more people have to be paid out of pocket.

Skyrim's made to be a hot title with the selling power to justify the $60 price point. I believe part of the idea here is to recoup the hefty initial investment in a timely manner, possibly so they can reinvest it into their other works or pay off their investors.


Quote (Narratorway)
By saying that, you are arguing that despite the multitude of radically different methods of manufacture and distribution with equally varying costs, videogames - by and large and for over twenty years - have had budgets that required a $60+ price tag.


Not every game has cost $60 in the past 20 years. For one thing the average cost used to be closer to $50 in the years of the Playstation and Playstation 2, marking a substantial drop over the cost of cartridge based games.

For another there's a degree of price variance in the market even in the recent generation, as shown by titles like Street Fighter IV, which originally had an M.S.R.P. of $40 stateside.

Granted that game has had more rereleases and DLC than one might consider reasonable for such a short amount of time. Still it must be considered that:

1. The original game should still be perfectly playable for the content it does have and how lowly it's priced.

2. The price hasn't gone up any for subsequent releases. (Although it hasn't really gone down either.)

This post has been edited by Tonepoet on 26th March 2012 16:26

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Posted: 26th March 2012 16:43

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And even absent all considerations of recouping investment costs and distribution costs and such, we all know that games will ONLY ever be base-priced at $XX.99 anyway, and the standard price in USD for a triple-A top-of-the-line game is $60 or $50--in other words, it's almost guaranteed to be either $59.99 or $49.99 (rarely $54.99), if only just to meet expectations. If you priced it lower, people would wonder if something's amiss (and I think some companies are legally required to maximize profit to their shareholders, which is a whole different problem), and if you priced it higher, people would complain that it's not the market price for this sort of game.

You might be able to get away with $69.99 if it's a boxed version, but...wait...

Quote (Tonepoet)
It's not as impossible as it might seem Blitzsage. Due to D.R.M. you need to download P.C. copies Skyrim through Steam. The only reason they probably even have a retail box is to act as an eye-catch in the stores where people are considering buying other games at retail value, so it's more of a marketing cost than a necessary cost of materially packaging the product.


...really? Seriously? That's just a load of bull. I would have thought that a retail box version would, y'know, contain a disc or something so that I wouldn't have to deal with using some other service...

Does the box contain anything else? Instruction manual? Feelies? Anything?

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Posted: 26th March 2012 17:52

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I don't know exactly what the box has since I don't have it. I was just reading up articles online about the issue.

It does has an installer disc that can be used to reduce bandwidth usage and I'd imagine it has a manual like any other retail version. Perhaps I should've said it requires Steam for activation. Patches still have to be downloaded through steam though.

At any rate, you still have to put up with Steam and it's the same deal for Civ 5 and a small number of other games. There's to worry about too much after that initial activation, unless you need to reinstall it, since you can put Steam in offline mode but still...

Nothing particularly special unless you buy the special edition with an M.S.R.P. of $150 that can be found online for $100. Then you get a cool looking collectable figurine modeled after a Dragon from in the game and an artbook of sorts.

It's an interesting incentive but kinda silly in my opinion since it seems like a package only diehard fans would want at such a high pricepoint and I'm rather curious how somebody would become a diehard fan of a game they don't own to have played to any reasonable extent.

I mean, limited edition stuff can command a higher resale value once it goes out of print but in this case, it'd seem wiser to just sell the game and the dragon separately, particularly since I doubt game itself wouldn't have any resale value. I mean if you have to activate the game, that'd permanently link the activation key it to a particular account, meaning nobody else could use it...

This post has been edited by Tonepoet on 26th March 2012 17:58

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Posted: 26th March 2012 20:37

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Well, this wouldn't be the first time that a limited edition package with a higher price point was produced. I would think such editions tend to be targeted toward existing fans of the series who have a reasonable expectation that they will enjoy the game anyway. As well as those people who already have the game but are willing and able to pay extra to get the goodies.

As for putting up with Steam, yes, there's an offline mode though I think you still have to go online every 40 days at least...and that's not counting when Steam refuses to start up due to its wanting to update or something but not finding an internet connection, even if you were connected a few hours earlier. It's happened to me before.

I can see this move as a cost-saving measure for Bethesda, but I can't see it as endearing them to any fans. In the meantime, I guess I can be thankful that I'm more of a consumer of indie games, whose developers tend to lean toward the opinion of making distribution easy. Now I can go pick up a hard copy of Aquaria for a bit over US$30; maybe I'll do that after I play the game and decide I really like it.

Also considering the $20 hard-copy two-CD soundtrack (with liner notes and all).

This post has been edited by Glenn Magus Harvey on 26th March 2012 20:40

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Posted: 27th March 2012 06:56

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Quote (Tonepoet @ 26th March 2012 12:15)
Quote (Narratorway)
By saying that, you are arguing that despite the multitude of radically different methods of manufacture and distribution with equally varying costs, videogames - by and large and for over twenty years - have had budgets that required a $60+ price tag.


Not every game has cost $60 in the past 20 years. For one thing the average cost used to be closer to $50 in the years of the Playstation and Playstation 2, marking a substantial drop over the cost of cartridge based games.

For another there's a degree of price variance in the market even in the recent generation, as shown by titles like Street Fighter IV, which originally had an M.S.R.P. of $40 stateside.

Granted that game has had more rereleases and DLC than one might consider reasonable for such a short amount of time. Still it must be considered that:

1. The original game should still be perfectly playable for the content it does have and how lowly it's priced.

2. The price hasn't gone up any for subsequent releases. (Although it hasn't really gone down either.)

That's something I didn't think about, because I didn't look up the PS1 and 2's number, but you don't even have to go past this generation; look at the Wii. Its titles are priced on average $10 less than the other consoles' games. Why is that? Does Nintendo not want the extra money? The reason is that they don't need to charge that much. The Wii doesn't have the capabilities of the other systems, and therefore it requires less money to produce, so those developers do not need to charge any higher than what they charge.

These prices are caused by budgetary constraints, which have taken the place of manufacturing costs. In the 90s, games have very short development times, which is why Square could make a Final Fantasy every year and still make other series at the same time. But that changed as the PS2 began to allow more options, and that's why it took 4 years between X and XII. In order to work on multiple games they had to hire more people, which increased costs.

It's also important to note that prices are not completely flexible. Someone decided on the $50-60 mark, and that created a precedent. That's why every mainstream game seems to have that same price. Imagine if you were walking through Walmart game section, and you saw a list of games. All but one are priced $60 dollars. Another one is priced at $70. Consumers are probably not a willing to buy that game, because of the surrounding prices.

That's partially why an indie game sells, and why Nintendo's strategy worked out. People look at the prices, and think they're getting a deal. And they price unknown, untested indie games lower to urge people to take a chance on it. They figure that the consumer will think "I can take a risk for that price," and to a large extent, they do.

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Posted: 8th April 2012 19:34

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Apparently, the managing director of Good Old Games had something to say about this issue, in the course of an article that's mainly about GOG's moving to include newer games, DRM-free, among the site's offerings:

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/04/06...w-death-of-drm/

A thread of comments on this story, at the SteamGifts forum: http://www.steamgifts.com/forum/xTGOU/gog-...-bad-for-gamers

This post has been edited by Glenn Magus Harvey on 8th April 2012 19:37

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Posted: 9th April 2012 14:37

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What caught my eye in scanning that article, GMH, was this:
Quote
“Heavy discounts are bad for gamers,” Rambourg explained. “If a gamer buys a game he or she doesn’t want just because it’s on sale, they’re being trained to make bad purchases, and they’re also learning that games aren’t valuable. We all know gamers who spend more every month on games than they want to, just because there were too many games that were discounted too deeply. That’s not good for anyone.”


This is, to me, patently ridiculous. I could almost give some credence to the lesson that "games aren't valuable," but to me, that quote just shows that nobody seems to have a grasp of economics. A number of units will sell at full price, a number of units will sell at heavily discounted prices, and a number of units will sell at every point in between, and that is the nature of a lot of things that have a shelf life. Pricing and sales work on a curve, a spectrum, not as binary. Games aren't valuable unless someone buys them, and that is where their value as a good begins and ends. Whether they're ever played is utterly beside the point of the pricing structure, and I can't understand why selling a year-old game at $10, a price that gets me to buy it, is somehow worse than selling it at $60, a price where I won't (but where hundreds of thousands of other folks might have a year ago).

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Posted: 11th April 2012 00:26

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Yeah, a good part of that SteamGifts thread is people--even those of us who like GOG--noting that that was a really stupid thing to say.

I think what he actually means is that he's defending his site's offering few discounts. A better justification would be that their prices are already reasonable, especially after their 50% discount which brings the prices of most of their offerings (normally priced at $5.99) down to $2.99. (A significant minority of their games are also priced at $9.99 normally, $4.99 when on sale; there are also a few others that are oddly priced.) That's actually comparable to the prices of Steam games when they get deeply discounted anyway, just that Steam can generate more buzz by putting sale signs on everything with jacked up prices.

That said, he's not entirely wrong. You DO get a lot of people snatching up deeply discounted games during big sale periods on Steam, and then never getting around to trying them out, or trying them out for a little bit and dropping them due to lack of interest. Though that's actually a good thing, not a bad thing, in terms of generating revenue for the creators/publishers.

This post has been edited by Glenn Magus Harvey on 11th April 2012 00:29

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