How much did you spend on the last video game you bought? If you bought the standard edition you probably spent $59.99 (plus tax). But you probably didn’t buy the standard edition. You could have chosen between the standard edition, the deluxe edition, early access bundle, the collector’s edition, the gold edition, the special edition, or ultimate edition. Ranging in price from the standard $60 to around $200. It is enough to make your head spin trying to decide which one to buy. Here’s an idea, make standard editions more expensive.
When the Xbox 360 launched in 2005, Microsoft announced that “next generation” games would increased from $50 to $60. Most of the internet did not bat an eye. They knew that games were expensive to make and 10 more dollars for a next generation experience would only create better games. It was also helped by the fact that Microsoft announced its own first party games would stay at the $50 price point! At least until Halo 3 launched and their games increased to $60.
The video game landscape is changing. Publishers could not raise the price of big budget AAA games when the Xbox One launched in 2013 because of the increased competition from independent games and smaller budget titles. Great games were being released for $10-$20, what a bargain! Gamers grew increasingly hesitant of $60 games, only splurging for a big budget title if it had a good metacritic score or maybe a big name franchise attached to it.
Living in 2017 we see the landscape continue to shift. Smaller budget titles are coming out less frequently, and big budget titles are still $60. However, micro-transactions have altered the way games are played. In order to get the most return on investment, publishers and developers want gamers to play their games longer. Instead of creating a complete story or narrative, games have become services. You are expected to choose your game, log in every day or week, finish some new quests, get some new gear, and spend more money.
Again I ask, how much did you spend on the last game you bought? Consider all the DLC for the game. The developers probably released some special armor pieces, weapon skins, or even collectible trading cards that you could buy with in game currency. Now consider all the micro transactions that you purchased for the chance at an item from an in game loot box.
As a gamer, I do not feel like publishers and developers are respecting my time or money. Early this year I purchased the Ultimate Edition for Halo Wars 2. Only to later realize that the expanding story missions in Awakening the Nightmare would not be included in the season pass, but would be an extra $19.99. And after I purchased an additional $40 dollars worth of Blitz card packs for a mode that was incredibly unbalanced and ultimately not fun. I followed those decisions with a purchase of the $100 Destiny 2 Digital Deluxe Edition. Which included a legendary sword, emblem and emote that are worthless compared to items that you receive earlier in the game. And then add another $20 worth of Silver, the in game currency used to buy bright engrams, and I feel duped.
Let’s cut our losses. Something needs to change. Clearly I have no problem spending at least $120 on a single game. Game prices should go up, maybe to $80; maybe to $120. In return gamers should receive a better experience. Remove all these tricks to try and get more money from the players, ask for it up front. The relationship between consumer and creator is built on trust. As developers add more smoke and mirrors and lottery systems with their games, everyone loses.
If Adidas can ask $160 for a pair of shoes, I think publishers can ask $70 for a great video game.
What are you willing to pay for a game?
Something to spoon on,