Editorials

The Price and Value of Games Part 1


The value of video games is an often debated topic. In an age where the prices of games can range from free to hundreds of dollars, it is difficult to come to an agreement to how much a game should cost. With a 60 dollar price point standardized in the minds of gamers, is there any wiggle-room for prices to change in the future? In this 2-part series, we will dive into how the price of games has affected and has changed over the years.

Games are Cheaper than Ever

At the average 60 dollars per AAA game, games are cheaper than they have ever been. While the exact dollar amount is not too different, games are a lot cheaper now than they were 20 years ago when adjusted for inflation. Six years ago, Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) summarized the costs of games at certain console launches, compared to how much they would cost if adjusted for inflation as of December 2010.

• NES (1986) – Original cost (29.99-49.99) – Adjusted cost (59.79-99.65)
• SNES (1991) – Original cost (49.99-59.99) – Adjusted cost (80.17-96.21)
• N64 (1996) – Original cost (49.99) – Adjusted cost (69.60)
• PS2 (2000) – Original cost (49.99) – Adjusted cost (63.41
• Xbox 360 (2005) – Original cost (59.99) – Adjusted cost (67.10)

If this data is to be believed, games are cheaper now than they have been in previous generations. If we account for the large amount of independent games and mobile games that release at immensely lower price points, we live in a world where game prices are not only at an all-time low but are more accessible due to the number of platforms. But a lingering fact still remains.

Games are More Expensive to Make

As hardware has advanced over the years, so has the software that can utilize said hardware. More memory means more polygons. More game to make means more to do and more people needed to make it. More people, in turn, means more money needed to hire the talent that is needed to make a game. So if games cost more money to make today than they have in the past, why has the cost of games not gone up? Is there a fear in how the market would respond if this happened?

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Season Passes, DLC, Complete Editions

60 dollars is what we consider to be the base price for a game, but DLC has changed how we as a consumer looks at the overall complete package of a game. A game is released as a standalone package at 60 but then offers a 20-50 dollar season pass to pre-purchase all future content that has yet to be released. With this format becoming more and more common, is it possible that the addition of season passes have changed the way publishers see how much they sell their games for?

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For example, Ubisoft has begun releasing what they call “Gold Editions” of their games. These editions come with the game, some exclusive bonuses, and the season pass. Arguably, this package includes the entire game, including all future additional content. This makes the game 100 dollars in one package, compared to the standard 60. These editions are sold both digitally and as physical copies. Ubisoft has given consumers an option to pay 100 dollars for a game, but still keeps a standard edition at a 60 dollar price point.

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Is keeping a standard edition on the market a decision made out of fear of backlash from consumers? Or is it possibly to slowly ease people into a higher price range without immediate backlash? Maybe this is the strategy that the industry needs to raise the price of games. Only time will tell.

Come back next week, as we talk about how price correlates to game length and see how the pricing of games affects sales.


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