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Op Ed

Game Theory - Video Games and Money: Is Gaming Becoming Too Expensive?
We should be realistic, but in all fairness, G4′s video is lacking some perspective. People aren’t upset about dishing out $250 for a Nintendo system: They’re upset about dishing out $250 for a handheld. This is likely less of an issue in Japan where handheld and mobile gaming are far more ingrained into Japanese culture than Western culture, but in North America, we still have a tendency to think of gaming in terms of “consoles” (or PC) and “portables.” The Wii, which launched in 2006 and hooks up to a television like any traditional console, launched at $249 USD. The Nintendo DS launched in 2004 at $149.99. Going back through the generations, Nintendo has long paired its home consoles with a cheaper, albeit less powerful alternative. Now, the company is asking more for its handheld than its main console. That’s not to say the 3DS’s asking price is unfair, but there is definitely some culture shock behind our grousing. We’ll get over it.

G4tv.com - Why Video Game Music Deserves A Dedicated Grammy Award.
Much to their credit, this was very forward thinking by the Grammys, because at the time, game music was still quite young in terms of actual physical releases, especially in North America. In the decade-plus that has elapsed, game soundtracks have continued to grow, in both quality and in numbers of physical and digital releases to the point that now, more than before, game music needs it’s own Grammy category. But why you may ask?

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17 Replies. 1 pages. Viewing page 1.
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17. Re: Op Ed Mar 1, 2011, 16:17 Jerykk
 
What if I like Mass Effect? That has much more in common with GoW than Bulletstorm.  
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16. Re: Op Ed Mar 1, 2011, 05:08 xXBatmanXx
 
jdreyer wrote on Mar 1, 2011, 04:45:
Quit buying crappy 60.00 games like Bulletstorm.
Uh, what's crappy about Bulletstorm? It looks like good, bloody, over the top fun. And it's metacritic rating is 84. Am I missing something? Or are you talking about the issues that the PC version has? I never pay $60 for a game, but I have to wait a year or two until it comes down in price. But if I made more cash, I would pay that for a good game at launch.

Nothing if you like console games like GoW.
 
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15. Re: Op Ed Mar 1, 2011, 04:45 jdreyer
 
Quit buying crappy 60.00 games like Bulletstorm.
Uh, what's crappy about Bulletstorm? It looks like good, bloody, over the top fun. And it's metacritic rating is 84. Am I missing something? Or are you talking about the issues that the PC version has? I never pay $60 for a game, but I have to wait a year or two until it comes down in price. But if I made more cash, I would pay that for a good game at launch.
 
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"It's just a bunch of mystic bovine scatology to me." - 1badmf
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14. Re: Op Ed Mar 1, 2011, 02:31 xXBatmanXx
 
I agree with Sepharo.
TO many games at the 60.00 price point.
Maybe 2-3 worth that a year.

Supply and demand.
Quit buying crappy 60.00 games like Bulletstorm.
 
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13. Re: Video Games and Money: Is Gaming Becoming Too Expensive? Feb 28, 2011, 23:44 Sepharo
 
jdreyer wrote on Feb 28, 2011, 21:31:
Gaming has never been cheaper. You can build a $500 computer that will run all current games at decent resolution. You can buy older (1-3 yrs) AAA games on Steam for $5-10. You can play so many games for free: browser games, abandonware, freeware, etc. You can get an xbox 360 for under $200, and games for the console are cheaper than they've ever been, adjusted for inflation. If you don't mind playing older games, a Nintendo DS and PS 2 are under $100. Used PS 2 games are $5 and there are so many great ones. A smartphone costs $99 or so with contract and games are free or a dollar or two.

Honestly, I hardly think anyone could argue that gaming is too expensive. Quite the opposite is true: Gaming has never been better or cheaper.

Agreed.

Only those paying the high prices are to blame for the high prices. Cheap gaming is more accessible and possible now than it has ever been.
 
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12. Video Games and Money: Is Gaming Becoming Too Expensive? Feb 28, 2011, 21:31 jdreyer
 
Gaming has never been cheaper. You can build a $500 computer that will run all current games at decent resolution. You can buy older (1-3 yrs) AAA games on Steam for $5-10. You can play so many games for free: browser games, abandonware, freeware, etc. You can get an xbox 360 for under $200, and games for the console are cheaper than they've ever been, adjusted for inflation. If you don't mind playing older games, a Nintendo DS and PS 2 are under $100. Used PS 2 games are $5 and there are so many great ones. A smartphone costs $99 or so with contract and games are free or a dollar or two.

Honestly, I hardly think anyone could argue that gaming is too expensive. Quite the opposite is true: Gaming has never been better or cheaper.
 
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"It's just a bunch of mystic bovine scatology to me." - 1badmf
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11. Re: Op Ed Feb 28, 2011, 18:05 killer_roach
 
Warskull wrote on Feb 28, 2011, 17:04:
You have to remember, gaming was far less mainstream back then. The business models they made back then are outdated. Trying to push every game for $60 results in a lot of games failing to sell. Steam has proven time and time again that flexible pricing can make you much more money with increased sales.

I've covered this before - reducing price is not the way for the industry to go, unless they want to lose out on huge amounts of revenue.

Let me clarify.

Take a large AAA game launch, something that's going to sell a quarter million copies first week at $60, pretty much no matter what, bringing in $15 million in retail sales right off the bat. Assume that, if you priced the game at $20 at launch, the game would sell a million copies in that first week, bringing in $20 million in sales. A publisher would have to be insane to price the game at $60 rather than $20, right?

Wrong.

In fact, the publisher's shareholders should probably run management out of town on a rail if that's their strategy. After all, if you had a likely 250,000 people willing to pay $60 for the game, and you only charged them $20, you lost out on $40 in sales revenue from each one of them. Multiply by their numbers, and you deliberately passed on $10 million in revenue.

The market for videogames works as a monopolistic competition model - only one publisher is going to be distributing a particular game into the retail channel, but there exist numerous rival substitutes. If a gamer thinks a particular game is priced higher than they want to pay, or a substitute is priced lower than what they were expecting, it's likely the customer walks out the door with another game and leaves the subject game on the shelf. Even still, a publisher wants to get as much money out of their game as they possibly can. How?

One way is to draw out the amount of money that the gamer will pay through post-release DLC, but the means that applies to this discussion is through price discrimination - a means of splitting customers up in such a manner that you charge them closer to their willingness to pay for your product. How's the best way to do that? Let time do it for you. The people who are likely to pay the most are likely the ones who will buy the game right away... charge them as much as you can get away with. The people who don't want to pay that? You can come back at a later time with a lower price point and then pick some of them up, and then possibly repeat the process a few more times (especially with digital distribution, as your per-unit costs are effectively nil, apart from the percentage fee that the distribution service takes out regardless).

Pretty much every game can be pushed out there for $60, or maybe more. I'd just argue that the retail model likely discourages prices from falling in as orderly a fashion as they probably should in order to both capture revenue from consumers as well as provide product in a manner that consumers feel comfortable with paying the price tag on.

</econ geek rant>
 
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10. Re: Op Ed Feb 28, 2011, 17:04 Warskull
 
killer_roach wrote on Feb 28, 2011, 15:22:
Gaming is not getting more expensive... the problem is that prices don't tend to move a lot, so whenever there's nominal upward price pressure people freak out. The NES' main configuration in the US was $150 in 1984, which would be about $325 today, pretty much in line with the major gaming systems. The difference is in the price paid for games - $40-50 per game back then, which was the norm for most any game then, would be $85-110 today, which, if you saw that for anything other than a relatively lavish collector's edition, would be likely to incite riotous levels of nerd rage.

If anything, the main complaints about gaming being too expensive come from three sources. One is younger people with a very limited frame of reference about gaming. Not much you can do about that. The second is the people who complain that they aren't getting as much for their gaming dollar as they used to; this is relatively subjective, but I would argue that, for multiplayer gamers at least, that seems not to hold much water (singleplayer gamers may have some complaints as more and more games feel they need to focus on co-op and competitive multiplayer in order to check off some bullet points on a marketing sheet). The third argument is that there's simply that much more gaming offerings out today, making it that much harder to keep on top of everything from both a time and a cost perspective.

You have to remember, gaming was far less mainstream back then. The business models they made back then are outdated. Trying to push every game for $60 results in a lot of games failing to sell. Steam has proven time and time again that flexible pricing can make you much more money with increased sales.
 
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9. Re: Op Ed Feb 28, 2011, 16:25 NewMaxx
 
Verno wrote on Feb 28, 2011, 11:14:
$250 for a handheld is just crazy, especially when they seem do bi-yearly hardware revisions.

Carmack seems to think that smart phones will win out, as another poster here supports. I present your comment and Exhibit A for comparison purposes:

http://theiphonewiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=Timeline

June 2007: iPhone launched
June 2008: iPhone 3G announced
June 2009: iPhone 3GS announced
June 2010: iPhone 4 launched

See a pattern here?

Keep in mind I don't buy into smart phones, don't do mobile gaming, and generally don't particularly care for Carmack or think he's right. The 3DS is selling well so far and will sell well, but the point is that the same people dropping cash on a new iPhone every year are the same clients looking at $250 revisions of portable gaming systems. You could argue that many of them sell off their old iPhones...well, there is also a large used gaming market.

P.S. I agree with your statements, just pointing out that the reality has a parallel in the competing portable gaming market, hence perhaps the logic behind the cost and hardware cycles. Phones do more than game, but they also have a monthly maintenance fee and contracts, etc.

This comment was edited on Feb 28, 2011, 16:30.
 
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8. Re: Op Ed Feb 28, 2011, 15:58 TurdFergasun
 
nobody that matters gives a flying crap about the grammy's or any other major bought and paid for award. don't try to drag gaming through the mud of your farcical pagentry, it already deals with enough mud by itself.  
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7. Re: Op Ed Feb 28, 2011, 15:46 Flatline
 
Verno wrote on Feb 28, 2011, 11:14:
$250 for a handheld is just crazy, especially when they seem do bi-yearly hardware revisions. What's really sad is it selling 400k units in our debt driven culture though.

The PSP sold 25 million units, hardly anything to sneeze at, and it was at that price point for ages. And it had a horrible software library (my PSP has logged more hours playing pinball than any other game by an order of 10 to 1). I suspect 250 is the top end of what the mobile market is willing to bear though.

What's going to harm the 3DS' numbers I think is the smartphone surge going on right now. iPhone and Android are cheap platforms to develop on (relatively speaking) and thus you see a lot more indie efforts and a lot more creativity, at a price point that the 3DS is going to have trouble competing with.

I mean, for 40 bucks I can get a 3DS game, or I can get 10-40 different games on my iPhone and get orders of magnitude more entertainment. Which means that the casual "I have 5 minutes and I want to play a game" market is evaporating. If someone ever gets their head out of their ass and creates an affordable bluetooth or wired controller for the iphone or android, Sony and Nintendo's portables are in deep trouble, since at the moment actual, physical controls trump the shit that is a touchscreen virtual joystick.
 
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6. Re: Op Ed Feb 28, 2011, 15:22 killer_roach
 
Gaming is not getting more expensive... the problem is that prices don't tend to move a lot, so whenever there's nominal upward price pressure people freak out. The NES' main configuration in the US was $150 in 1984, which would be about $325 today, pretty much in line with the major gaming systems. The difference is in the price paid for games - $40-50 per game back then, which was the norm for most any game then, would be $85-110 today, which, if you saw that for anything other than a relatively lavish collector's edition, would be likely to incite riotous levels of nerd rage.

If anything, the main complaints about gaming being too expensive come from three sources. One is younger people with a very limited frame of reference about gaming. Not much you can do about that. The second is the people who complain that they aren't getting as much for their gaming dollar as they used to; this is relatively subjective, but I would argue that, for multiplayer gamers at least, that seems not to hold much water (singleplayer gamers may have some complaints as more and more games feel they need to focus on co-op and competitive multiplayer in order to check off some bullet points on a marketing sheet). The third argument is that there's simply that much more gaming offerings out today, making it that much harder to keep on top of everything from both a time and a cost perspective.
 
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5. Re: Op Ed Feb 28, 2011, 15:21 heroin
 
Most game music is full of cheese. Though, I always appreciate Minecraft's music and moreso love how a lot of times it pops on during a "breakthrough" moment adding even more power to the minimal tunes.  
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4. Re: Op Ed Feb 28, 2011, 15:08 PHJF
 
For every game that has EFFORT put into its score, there are a hundred that put throwaway ear-fucking trash in instead. Video games aren't remotely consistent enough to deserve that kind of praise.  
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Steam + PSN: PHJF
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3. Re: Op Ed Feb 28, 2011, 14:41 avianflu
 

The Wii was not _really_ 250 bucks at launch. Virtually everyone immediately bought the 2nd controller for 50-ish bucks, and then there's all of the wacky attachments that very quickly followed and were bought in droves. In practice, not a "cheap system to buy" as the article suggests. Major profit for Nintendo.
 
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2. Why Video game Music Deserves... Feb 28, 2011, 13:00 Fion
 
I agree with the G4 article (wow a G4 article worth reading, thats new!). Video Game music is getting right up there with movie music which has been awarded for excellence for a great many years now.

To me amongst the greatest game soundtrack is that of Age of Conan's orchestral and choir tracks. Say what you will about the game itself but the sound track (composed by Knut Avenstroup Haugen) is amongst the best I've ever heard and he won a International Film Music Critics Association award for his work. Amongst the most notable is 'Ere The World Crumbles' which can be heard live below;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-g5KYv2oqXk

(and just FYI that isn't break dancing in the video, it's a traditional dance in Norway).

 
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1. Re: Op Ed Feb 28, 2011, 11:14 Verno
 
Game Theory - Video Games and Money: Is Gaming Becoming Too Expensive?

Ignoring the article itself and addressing the root question, yes I believe it is. The industry is looking to prop up ballooning budgets instead of addressing root problems and a lot of that is through price raises and DLC. You can't simply buy a game and be done with it these days if you want the complete experience anymore. You have to buy the hardware, buy the game, buy the peripherals, pay for online access in some cases, buy the DLC and so on. It's getting to be a bit much for my taste.

$250 for a handheld is just crazy, especially when they seem do bi-yearly hardware revisions. What's really sad is it selling 400k units in our debt driven culture though.
 
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Playing: Alien Isolation, Legend of Grimrock 2, Super Mario 3D World
Watching: A Good Marriage, The Knick, Gotham
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