Should games be cheaper? In my opinion the answer is yes and no. I’ll explain what I mean by that.
Take a game like Skyrim or for that matter Modern Warfare. When you look at games such as these it’s quite clear that you are getting a massive AAA title, which will not only provide a high quality experience but will last you hours, if not years, and all for around £40 of your hard earned cash. Does it stand to reason then that a title which perhaps is of the same quality but only offers around 5-6 hours of gameplay and no replay value should cost the same price?
Let’s look at Enslaved by Ninja Theory as an example. We absolutely loved this game, there is no doubt it had high production values and a fantastic story, however after the eight hours or so it took to complete the game, what incentive was there to replay it, other than the paid for DLC which followed after its release? It makes you wonder that if Enslaved had been released at a lower price range, say around £20-£30, if it would have sold a lot better than it did.
The same can be said of many other titles. Why should the consumer be asked to pay top dollar for a game that lasts 5-10 hours, when other bigger budget titles are released for the same price? It just doesn’t stand to reason and it seems that many of the industries big name developers agree. Todd Howard, Bethedsa recently said as much to PSM3 magazine when questioned on the subject saying, “I’ve thought for a long time that games are too expensive. I don’t put us [Bethedsa] in that category because of what we give you for your cash. But I do think Industry Wide we would benefit from more games out at $19 or $29.”
Massimo Guarini, Director on the recently released Shadows of the Damned seems to agree with this, saying that he believes pricing needs to be adjusted for titles which don’t offer quite as much replay value.
“In my opinion, single-player-only games are nowhere close to being doomed,” he told GameSpot. “The problem rather lies in how they’re produced, through which channels are sold, and at which price points. I can’t see in any way a single-player experience being less engaging or interesting because of the absence of multiplayer. Instead, I can definitely see how players who pay 60 or 70 bucks for a game can be quite sensitive to the lack of additional features that can justify their investment.”
So it seems to make sense that reducing the cost of certain titles would see more sales, and therefore more profit. This model seems to work for casual games published on devices such as the Apple iPhone and the beauty is that even though this may create a flooded market the cream always seems to have a way of rising to the top.
There is no doubt creating that creating a new cost bracket for games would cost publishers some money as they would need to educate the consumer, however in the long run it would not only benefit the industry, but gamers too.
Todd Howard sums it up brilliantly when he said “if games where reduced [to between $19-$29] I would try more games, because I’m not going to try a game for $60.” I’d have to agree. Over to you publishers.