For most people it’s pretty much common knowledge that your average triple-A video game costs around sixty dollars. We also have this same idea surrounding indie games but instead that they should generally cost less than thirty or twenty dollars. So it shocked a lot of people when it was announced that No Man’s Sky would be priced at sixty dollars. But my entire reaction to this was, “How much did you think it was going to cost?!”
For some reason, people had the idea that No Man’s Sky was a twenty dollar video game. And most of the reasoning seems to be because the game is being developed by an indie studio. It doesn’t matter that the game has purportedly more than forty hours worth of content. As long as the game is an indie, it will always be worth less in the eyes of many gamers.
This also happened with The Witness. When its price tag of forty dollars was announced, people were actually surprised and outraged. Just because the game was made by independent developers and it was a puzzle game. Even though the game boasts dozens of hours worth of content and similar puzzle games such as Portal 2, cost about the same at launch. Because Valve is Valve and they get a free pass simply because they’re a bigger company with higher budgets.
These days, it’s almost as if the only way for gamers to accept a sixty dollar game is if it’s published by an EA or a Ubisoft. Even though these sorts of triple-A publishers have repeatedly betrayed public trust and released unfinished games that are lacking in content.
Instead of what’s in a game, many people judge the price of a game based on how it looks. Games like No Man’s Sky, The Witness and many other indie games have graphics and visuals based around art direction and stylistic choices. For a lack of a better word, they look like cartoons. They don’t necessarily look like they should cost the premium price. Something like Star Wars Battlefront is able to get away with charging that much because even though it may not have much content, it looks like it does and its graphics matches its price. Like a pair of Beats headphones or an overpriced handbag. Their perceived value is higher because of how they look.
The whole idea that indie games should cost less no matter what is completely stupid. Developers should be able to charge however much they want and it’s merely our job to decide whether we want to pay that much.
I think we’ll eventually get to the point where studios and publishers will start setting the prices of their games based on how much they think they’re worth to the public. Fallout 5 might have a thousand hours worth of things to do, so maybe it will cost a hundred dollars. The next Call Of Duty might be multiplayer only, so maybe it’ll cost forty dollars. But having the expectation that some games should cost less just because they’re made by indie developers is just ridiculous and will do the gaming industry no favours.