[Disclaimer: The Friday Night Rant is just that, a rant. It contains extemporaneous remarks which are not to be confused with this site’s journalism or editorial opinions. It is meant to be an entertaining take on the industry and may be divisive in nature.]
It’s Friday folks! Feel like a good rant? I feel like a good rant right about now. It’s a good way to unwind after a whole week of people agitating you.
You might be wondering, “Who is that gentleman above?” I’ll tell you. Politics is my other hobby, I follow it religiously just like gaming and that dude is Jimmy McMillan. His claim to fame is the establishment of New York’s Rent Is Too Damn High Party, as well as accompanying memes.
In an homage to Mr. McMillan and in the best imitation of his tone of voice I can do while writing I’d like to argue in this rant that The Price Of Video Games Is Too Damn High.
That probably sounds absolutely ridiculous to my fellow veteran gamers who have lived to see the price of video games basically stay the same or in some cases decrease over the decades even as technology gets more advanced, development teams grow exponentially, and costs of development skyrocket. After all, all told $60 seems like a fair trade for some of the fantastic experiences we’ve had access to especially in this generation.
That’s the level-headed side of things though, I’m not concerned with that. I’ll fight anybody right here and now to the death with a lead pipe over the fact that something like Skyrim is definitely worth $60, but there are other factors at work making the price of video games too damn high.
When I surf the network I see all of this emphasis on downloadable full retail titles lately. I can even pre-order them digitally (whatever the hell that means) and do you know what those digital games cost? $59.99! It’s digital for crying out loud. For this particular purchase of mine nobody had to make a little plastic box, nobody had to press a blu ray disc, nobody had to ship that product to the store, nobody had to pay the register biscuit who can’t figure out how to sort through his own ready-for-pickup inventory. I don’t get to own something I can put on my shelf. If somebody somewhere who I don’t know decides to mess with my account I probably signed an agreement I never read at some point that they aren’t liable for the fact that I can’t ever play that game I paid too damn much for ever again. Am I supposed to be impressed by the convenience of the download? I can get in my car, drive to the store, buy the physical version, come home, install it, download the 12 release day patches and be playing long before the damn thing would have ever been done downloading.
And what about if I do buy a physical copy of a game? Has anybody else looked inside their game boxes lately and noticed that there’s no damn manual in there anymore? That’s got to be saving somebody some money somewhere not to be printing those. I’m not saying they aren’t allowed to cut costs but how about passing a little of that my way in good faith? You bet I noticed them going black and white, then slimmer, then down to a little slip.
This site is dedicated to single players so you know I’m not going to let multiplayer stuff out of my remarks. More and more I’m seeing that games which feature The MP Menace do so at the expense of the single player portion. I don’t care if they have to fund their servers for those people. If I want to just play the single player then $60 is too damn high. Where’s my separate option to leave the MP off? Would they rather have some of my money or none of it?
If I ever do want to play online then what? More money. Xbox Live players have had to deal with subscription fees forever but now the Playstation 4 is even jumping on board by requiring PS Plus to play games online. Okay so maybe $60 or $50 a year, respectively, given all the stuff you get is worth the subscription but it still doesn’t change the fact that in order to use the content that was put into the games I’m buying I still have to pay even more money. It adds up.
Then you’ve got your DLC. There are some great things like expansion packs that add a lot of new gameplay but a lot of the time you can’t deny the fact that content like extra characters, costumes, items, maps and the like used to be unlockable just by playing your game. Some of it even ships on the disc and you have to pay to unlock it. Other stuff is purposefully left off of a complete game just so you have to pay more to get the whole experience. Don’t even get me started on the implementation of microtransactions in games that aren’t MMOs. It all makes the end cost of the game too damn high. Don’t tell me to wait for the GOTY edition, that’ll take too damn long.
The cost isn’t just too high for us, it’s too high for developers. They’ve got to work under harsh, overstaffed corporate overlord publishers who encourage a culture of greed and waste. EA just keeps on getting voted the worst company in the world, or whatever the official title was. Look what happened to 38 Studios, they were so poorly managed that Kingdoms of Amalur had to sell something like 4 million copies to turn a profit. That’s insane for a new IP. Look what indie developers are achieving for far less money and without a bloated staff. If they trimmed down maybe you and I wouldn’t be paying $60 for a 7 hour campaign. Maybe there could be more work for talented programmers than in a handful of elite studios.
I could keep going on but I’ll just make one final point. Somebody needs to unlock the price structure of these games. I’m not saying the prices need to go crazy all over the map but maybe if there were more games that didn’t feel shackled to the MSRP of $60 we’d have a better idea of what we are paying for and there would be more money in general to spread around the industry. Dead Island Riptide, Time And Eternity, and The Cursed Crusade are to be commended for dropping off a bit down to $50, but I don’t think many people would say those games were quite worth that much even. If all those prices got a bit more fair maybe everyone making games would be a bit richer for it. Most people have the internet these days and when they see a game scoring 6s and 7s they aren’t all that likely to drop the same amount on it as something getting 9s. Things need to be more flexible. “Why don’t you just wait a bit to buy it?” you say. I’m not thinking about me here, I’m thinking about them. If a game doesn’t have a strong debut with enough word of mouth its lifetime sales tend not to be that great either.
Conclusion: there’s plenty of room to make this whole damn hobby more affordable for everybody involved and some of the practices make the price of video games too damn high one way or another.