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Warren Spector on Game Prices

Gamesindustruy.biz quotes famed designer Warren Spector expressing the opinion that the games industry needs to work on bringing down prices. Here are some quotes conveying his thoughts on the topic:

"We've been a niche medium that over-charges for its product and therefore generates a lot of revenue which makes us a little bigger than Hollywood, which is crazy."

"The key is removing barriers to the creation of content and removing barriers to the consumption of content. Allowing people access to lots of it, at the lowest possible price where you can make a profit."

"I've always had this anecdotal belief that there's this magic price point for entertainment. And it's not a per dollar charge. No one thinks about how many hours they're going to get out of their entertainment dollars."

"If I've got a 20 dollar bill in my pocket I can go buy a book, go to a movie, but I can't buy a game. I can buy a CD, I can do so much even now, but you cannot buy a game."

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69 Replies. 4 pages. Viewing page 1.
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69. Re: Spector on Game Prices Apr 3, 2009, 07:46 dryden555
 
the sole reason Spector feels comfortable saying to the press that games should not cost 60 bucks is that he is now personally wealthy from the sales of one pretty-to-look-at, too short and mediocre game that solds tons at 60 buck a pop. There's some nice irony there.

 
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68. Re: Spector on Game Prices Apr 1, 2009, 14:45 Verno
 
The problem with your rant on graphics is that it ignores how many licensed engines are used where original artwork and model creation is eased considerably. It still all takes time and it's tedious for sure but you act like they spend 4 years touching up the graphics and doing nothing else.

If you want to get games like Braid or Portal then hey, no problem. I like my Call of Duty 4's and my Deus Ex type games though. Games that are ambitious and try to push the envelope are a lot more interesting to me than Peggle derivatives looking to just make a buck.

The other thing to remember is that people have grown accustomed for some reason to justify their $200+ videocard and crazy system specs. I don't want moderate looking games on my PC, heck console games look just fine and dandy as it is. I want my PC to push the limits and blow my mind when I load up games. You don't do that on a two year development cycle with a miniscule budget.

People always want everything cheaper, there's nothing new about that. People are also never happy, never 100% satisfied. Even a 10 hour game is a bargain compared to how much I would spend on equivalent entertainment from other industries. Game prices are fine, people are not.
 
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67. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 31, 2009, 18:34 Creston
 
You write with broad generalizations and cite no facts for anything

The guy who wrote "if you are a gamer you have broadband, and speed is irrelevant" accuses someone else of writing with broad generalizations?

Okay toolshed. You're right, it was all in anger. wtf?

Creston
 
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66. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 31, 2009, 12:30 Kxmode
 
No disrespect intended Ecthelion but I don't see the need to justify my comments to you.  
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65. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 31, 2009, 06:53 Ecthelion
 
Move to the metro Creston... problem solved.
I'm curious, what metro area do you call home? Do I need to move to that particular one to live in the fantasy world you've created? Most of us gamers actually need jobs to afford the games we enjoy playing, and they often determine where we live. In addition, many of us have families, and that is a factor in where we live as well. Let me guess, your solution for regional availability of digital downloads (e.g. certain games not being available internationally) is for those people to immigrate to the US. Who cares about the difficulty in obtaining a work permit and a job; they're gamers, so it's irrelevant. Problem solved.

Seriously, are you really this obtuse, or is it intentional? Are your feelings hurt because some of us actually managed to read the fine print in the studies you posted, and discovered that they weren't useful for determining whether a 1.5GB download is a problem?
 
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64. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 31, 2009, 03:14 Kxmode
 
@Creston that #61 tirade is so mind-numbingly clueless it borders on laughable. You write with broad generalizations and cite no facts for anything. But I bet it made you feel good didn't it? To let the anger out. It's okay we understand... Sometimes you gotta vent and shit.  
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63. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 31, 2009, 03:06 Kxmode
 
Move to the metro Creston... problem solved.  
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62. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 31, 2009, 01:55 Creston
 
According to Pew Internet Research in 2007 47% of adults have high-speed internet connections at home. In 2008 55% of all adult Americans now have a high-speed internet connection at home.

That's the government's definition of high speed. Ie, 512kb down and 64kb up in low coverage areas and 756kb down/256kb up in high coverage areas.

People with ACTUAL broadband connections, ie the ones that will download a 1.5GB demo without problems, are far, far fewer.
I've got a crappy 756kb down pipe, and I don't download demos simply because it's not worth my time.

If I buy a game from Steam and I want to play it on Thursday, I have to start downloading it on Tuesday...

Edit : Because they're not gamers. If you're a gamer chances are you have broadband. The details of speed aren't relevant.

So, gamers all live in large metropolitan areas that offer high tier broadband? Really? Did I just not get the memo? Or maybe my problem is that I just don't WANT broadband badly enough and that's why I can't get it? Or maybe I'm just the only gamer with shitty "broad"band?

As soon as you move 10 miles out of a major metropolitan area, the coverage of high tier broadband ends. Beyond that you get shitty AP / satellite / anchored wifi connections. Or maybe crappy DSL if you're lucky.

Creston

This comment was edited on Mar 31, 2009, 01:59.
 
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61. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 31, 2009, 01:52 Creston
 
It takes way more people and time to make the average AAA game than it takes to make the average movie

No it doesn't, at least not in total manhours. A game will take more years to develop, because typically all that work is done by 50-100 people. A movie simply throws 500 people at the problem and gets it done in 1 to 1.5 years.

But games DON'T have to take 4 years to develop. That's just the crazy bullshit that the publishers have turned the gaming industry into. Every game has to have the greatest newest graphics, because the large majority of drooltards will buy a game simply for the awesome graphics.

If they didn't focus on graphics, they would actually have to try to make good GAMEPLAY, and we all know that 99% of all modern devs (and 100% of all publishers) are completely incapable of that. Far easier for them to just hire ten extra artists and another programmer, and make sure that that graphics engine can crank out an extra God ray.

There have been plenty of games that have taken far less time to make and that have been awesome. Quite a few of today's crop of indie games took a year or less to make, usually by just a team of a few guys.

Even great titles such as Sins of a Solar Empire was completed in a relatively short amount of time (I believe 18 months?).

This Duke Nukem / Alan Wake / Half Life 2 episode whatever bullshit where games take five years or longer to come out is just ridiculous.

Games would see a much higher profit margin if they were made in 12-18 months and maybe didn't have the ultimate 100% topnotch graphics, but focussed more on actually being FUN to play.

There would still be games that take longer to make, sure. Rockstar can't build an entirely new GTA game in 18 months, and neither can the guys that make the Total War series.

But for the quality they contain, it's insane that most of today's games take longer than 18 months to make.

Creston
 
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60. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 30, 2009, 22:49 RP
 
What I can't stand is all the fanboys of any given game that go "gee whiz, I would pay EVEN MORE for <insert game here> because I love it so much"

Heh, I was describing TF2's worth to me. That I got it for a few bucks as part of The Orange Box is fucking awesome, but I'd be willing to pay much more for it. Some people spend $100+ on MMO subscriptions year after year because the entertainment is worth the money.

I'm not complaining about cheap prices. That's good for my wallet. But certain games are definitely worth, to me, way more than $50 while some are worth jack shit.
 
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59. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 30, 2009, 22:09 VoodooV
 
I have to admit, that so far, the only real benefit of DD is that it's bringing old Abandonware games back into the market. Though on the other hand. Games that old shouldn't even be 10 bucks or 5 bucks...they really need to be even cheaper IMO. But anyway, really, what's the point of DD if a new game costs the same as a physical copy? I want DD to succeed, but they really need to start sweetening the pot a bit more than they have so far. I can patch a game myself and all the online extras they put in for multiplayer only benefit you.....if you even touch the multiplayer component..which a lot of people still don't do.

What I can't stand is all the fanboys of any given game that go "gee whiz, I would pay EVEN MORE for <insert game here> because I love it so much" Honestly, are you fucking retarded? I don't give a shit if the game comes with special electrodes that induce orgasms every time you level up or score a kill. Common Sense 101: Never pay more than you fucking have to!

Any consumer with half a brain should be arguing for lower prices regardless of how good a game is. It encourages competition, higher prices encourage greed and laziness and shortchanging consumers on content, nickle and diming people on DLC. The gaming industry can take care of itself, we don't need some apologist coming along and saying, "but gosh, if we don't throw money at them indiscriminately, they won't make any games" Gaming has been a niche market for a helluva lot longer than it's been mainstream. So we know the demand is there. All someone has to do is provide it..and they'll make money. People are starting to finally wise up and realize that better graphics don't necessarily make a better game, so that argument is crap too.
 
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58. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 30, 2009, 21:47 Creston
 
I used to have no problem with games costing 50 bucks, but the last few years games have simply not been worth it, partially because they're tired rehashes that offer absolutely nothing new, but mostly because they're just too damn SHORT.

Ofcourse, with more and more mongrels in the industry (and the customers, actually) bleating about "the virtue of a 3 hour game", it's no surprise that publishers go this route. Nowadays people actually bitch when a game is six hours long that they "don't finish it."

Because apparently every fucking game HAS to be finished in a single setting. People couldn't possibly take 2 or 3 sessions to finish a game, their modern ADD addled brains couldn't handle it.

Fuckwits.

In any case, for myself I've definitely switched from buying everything new for full price to just getting a few top titles new, and then waiting for the rest to get reduced in price. I pick up a ton of games for 10-30 bucks that I wouldn't buy at 50 bucks anymore.

So, good job Warren. You've finally said something that was actually relevant. We haven't heard that since december 2003.

Creston

 
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57. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 30, 2009, 19:18 Wallshadows
 
Needless to say a 1.5 GB demo isn't a problem...

True enough and size is not so much an issue anymore. The thing is is that they'll only get larger and larger due to the advancements of gaming while the actual core gameplay will simply lack.

I think it's silly to spend more time downloading a demo than the actual length of the demo. In that time I could probably do research on some meta sites and get a fairly decent overview of the product.
 
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56. Re: pricing Mar 30, 2009, 18:28 Cutter
 
So don't go blaming Valve/Steam. They're held in a contract to sell the game at that price for a certain period of time. When Red Alert 3 dropped to $30 on Steam, I thought "holy crap!" until I discovered EA had lowered the boxed version to that price as well.

Then what good are they? I'd rather have a physical copy in that case. When digital distribution starts coming out of the gate with new titles at half what retailers want to charge for them, then I'll consider them.

Anyway, long and short of it is that (most) games have always been overpriced, and it's even worse when digital distributors continue to play that game.
 
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"The South will boogie again!" - Disco Stu
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55. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 30, 2009, 17:57 Tumbler
 
Tumbler, 5/22 is not in the %5 range, it's more in the %25 range, more like 1 out of 4. (where the hell did you get %5 from???)

22/5=4.4
5/22=.227 (approx 23%)

My bad.
 
99gamers.com-Game trading site, PC digital trading!
Kickstarter "Game Developer"!
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54. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 30, 2009, 17:54 Kosumo
 
Tumbler, 5/22 is not in the %5 range, it's more in the %25 range, more like 1 out of 4. (where the hell did you get %5 from???)

edit - sorry, seen someone else pointed it out

This comment was edited on Mar 30, 2009, 19:50.
 
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53. Re: He's still talking.... Mar 30, 2009, 17:48 Tumbler
 
Great post Nin, I was hoping these stories would come up

During the Holiday sales:

10% sale = 35% increase in sales (real dollars, not units shipped)
25% sale = 245% increase in sales
50% sale = 320% increase in sales
75% sale = 1470% increase in sales

At 75% off, they are making 15% more money than they were at full price.

That last line is what people are talking about with lower prices. There is a point where you can drop the price to and so many people will want to buy that it ends up making you more money than hording it and selling it for a very high price.

So a $60 game at 75% off is $15...It's a tough sell to a publisher but this is where we need game prices to go. And hopefully the data will become overwhelming in the future. (Thanks mostly to Steam and Valve?)

I think there was another story about pricing Left 4 Dead at $24.99 (50%) on a weekend sale and being stunned that they ended up making more money from that sale than they did from launch until now? (I may be wrong about the result, maybe they just sold more copies)

Edit: And I should read more because the story you linked is the same story and I'm just slow...

This comment was edited on Mar 30, 2009, 17:55.
 
99gamers.com-Game trading site, PC digital trading!
Kickstarter "Game Developer"!
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52. Re: He's still talking.... Mar 30, 2009, 17:15 nin
 
Steam has already proven you can make a killing if you price more aggressively.

What the hell are you talking about? Games aren't priced any cheaper on Steam than they are at retail stores.

No, normally, they're not, but I believe his quote was about Steams after xmas sale, which pretty much everything was from 10-50% off and sales jumped through the roof...

See here:
http://www.bluesnews.com/cgi-bin/board.pl?action=viewstory&threadid=95800
http://www.bluesnews.com/cgi-bin/board.pl?action=viewstory&threadid=94429

 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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51. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 30, 2009, 16:48 Sty
 
I just wait until it hits a price range I'm comfortable with buying it at. I gauge price based on reviews, gameplay vids, demo, etc. Personally, I rarely pay over $20 these days. Grew tired last year of dropping $50 on numerous games that I had to wade through bugs on, then wait for the barrage of fixes. I'll let other people beta-test publicly for $50 and get the quality experience in the end for much less. Pub/Dev don't fix the major issues, I just avoid it.  
Avatar 13874
 
You know selling dlc before you patch the client doesn't impress upon me the need to support your shit. -massdev
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50. Re: Warren Spector on Game Prices Mar 30, 2009, 16:26 RP
 
If games came out at $20, it would destroy the second-hand market that the industry hates so much. Gamestop couldn't possibly sell a used game for more than $5 less than new, so $15. And they want to make an absurd profit, so they'd offer, what, $5 max for a recently-released game?

Why lower prices when you can use something like Steamworks authentication to eliminate the second-hand market altogether?
 
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