Friday, 12 March 2010

*Article* Do Video games cost too much?

NOTE: This is an article I wrote for a website back in 2009, my opinion on some matters may have changed in the last year.

This past year I have noticed something that has begun to bother me constantly when on the look out for new games to play.
My problem with modern games is the pricing both long term and short term.
To start off lets see how the money has changed over time.
Back in the early days new titles could end up costing as little as £2 for games on your home computers (but they were normally rubbish games), bigger and more serious titles normally cost around a tenner, which was a lot of money for the time.

Then came game consoles like the SEGA master system and NES, here is when game prices started to go up, through he 1980's and early 90's video game prices had risen to about £30-£40 on a new game, which is closer to the standard we have today, by that time money had changed as well people could afford to pay that much money for a new game.
The prices in the 16-bit era were no different, games were costing the same type of money to make and buy.
The came the Playstation and N64 era, at this time developers were starting to give up on cartridges and moved to CD because it was cheaper for them to makes games on, thanks to this the playstation ended up having one of the biggest and best game library's ever in gaming, and as before these games were on average £30-£40.
The there was the Nintendo 64 a games console with twice the number of bits that the playstation had (the playstation was 32-bit).
Because of its immense power the N64 games had to be on cartridges, this angered a lot of developers because by this time making games for something like the N64 had become expensive so most of them dropped support, Square being the best example, Nintendo had lost Final Fantasy because of cartridges, with the N64 you could tell that the games cost a lot to make because of the retail price.
Nintendo 64 games retailed at £50-£60 on average, sometimes there were one off's like F-Zero X that retailed for £30 and other times there were expansion pack games like Perfect dark and Donkey Kong 64 that retailed for a staggering £70.
The fact that the N64 did so well still has be myth today, I mean sure the technology was great and it had some amazing exclusives like Super Mario 64 and Zelda but what king of person had that money, not kids that's for sure, they would have had to wait for their birthdays and Christmas for that and even then they would only be able to afford one game.
Now by the new millennium everyone was using disks, the X-Box used DVD's as did the playstation and GameCube so the price would have been the same for each console around £30-£40.
Looking at this generation I have to say that when it game to stuff like value for money and bundling I'd have to say that Nintendo had it best.
Lets just do a comparison. When it came to extras PS2 games ended up costing more, games like Time Crisis 2 & 3 ended up costing quite a lot because of the lightgun that game bundled with the games.
As for the x-box all I can say is STEEL BATTALION, it's humongous, money wise the entire thing was like £100.
Now with Nintendo it was a case of all add-on's are free, no kidding they did not affect the retail price at all, for example lets look at Donkey Konga and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, both games came bundled with a set of bongos that you could play them with now you would think that it would add to the price but it doesn't, nothing on GameCube a price increase because of an add-on.
Zelda: Four Swords Adventures came with a GBA link cable but the price was still £40 RRP.
Pokemon Colosseum came with a free memory card but the RRP was still £40.
Mario Party 6 came with a microphone but the price was still (you guessed it) £40.
So for value I'd have to say Nintendo were best that gen (it may have finished behind the Xbox and PS2 but owning a cube was a lot cheap then owning a PS2 or Xbox).
Now we move on to the current gen of gaming and this is where I really start to get annoyed.
This generation has been dubbed "the next gen" of video games, the technology has gotten better and games look a lot more life like and realistic.
Now gaming has been hit by two big problems this gen
1) Production and development price has increased, games cost more top make.
2) We have been hit by a recession, the worlds banking system took a fall a while back and is still recovering, I'm not quite in the know when it comes to politics but I do know that things have become more expensive because of it.
as a result of the above two video games can now cost on average as much as £50, that's insane, I can understand a game being £50 when the console its on has just launched but why is it that nearly four years into the next gen that we have games been sold for £50 RRP ?
Thinking about it I suppose this is a short term effect caused by the problems involved with production and money so i shouldn't last long should it?

Well it turns out I'm wrong because video games have come to the point where the price never goes down take for example the ever so popular Call of Duty 4, it was voted game of the year back in 2007 and even came number 1 in Game's top 100 video games of all time list.
You'd think that all this popularity would make the price go down, what with things like Playstation Platinum and X-box classics now but wait, what's thins, the games is still being retailed for above £40 two years after its release despite its success and high sales why?
For nearly two years had the game been priced at £50 RRP, they even release a game of the year edition with extra content to help justify the pricing, but again that was nearly two years ago, it makes me wonder how people can happily afford to pay as much as £40 for a game that came out two years ago.
The only reason that the game price has gone down to £40 is because the sequel is out soon.
Anyway my point is this, the value of games has gone up but the value of money hasn't, £30 ten years ago is worth the same amount as £30 today so why isn't it the same for games.
Maybe the technology is moving too fast, that will be it.

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