When Are Video Games Too Expensive?

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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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4 thoughts on “When Are Video Games Too Expensive?

  1. I would almost prefer to pay more for a good, content filled indie produced game then a triple-AAA game. At least that way I feel like I am rewarding the actual people instead of contributing to a fraction of a percent on a corporate financial chart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Games have def. come a long way and the tech that goes into them now a days compared to the past has significantly grown. Thus 60 bucks a pop video games. Its crazy and it really leads to unfortunate means of acquiring games for some. I found a pretty cool site that offers serial codes for the games at really good price that makes buying games a little easier. Check it out!! https://www.g2a.com/r/g2com

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I always liked this topic.

    I don’t mind budget/indie games going at a full $60. I mind being undercut by a lack of budget, and that’s what No Man’s Sky and The Witness were. No Man’s Sky flat out lied about what features were in the game, and left players with a barebones exploration game, and The Witness is a single puzzle game with multiple permutations. The entire “gameplay” of the Witness could be matched by a $10 puzzle book from Barnes and Nobles. You can argue that both have incredible environments, but that means I just get a screensaver between gaming segments.

    Meanwhile, I’ll gladly pay $40 for Danganronpa, a murder mystery visual novel for the Vita that uses 2D sprites, and flash cutscenes to get its messages across. There’s a story, there’s mystery, there’s multiple permutations of multiple puzzles, and none of it is “cryptically hidden for only TRUE gamers to find” like The Witness or FNaF.

    Time played doesn’t justify a game’s price, and quality is subjective. To me, it’s a measurement of visible effort. Is there a world? Is there a clear story? Is there an objective? Is there variance? Is there choice? Is there production value? The more “yes”es a game can claim, and the deeper those “yes”es can be increase the value, and inherently the price.

    I think the problem is the initial investment: spending $60 on anything is a giant bet. I’d love to see more incremental releases, similar to Hitman. I wouldn’t even mind if that made AAA games more expensive in the long run. If someone told me the base price for the Witcher 3 would be 120$, and then some for DLC, I’d be okay with that, if I could play in $10 chunks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately, I think that would be hard to pull off. Those who aren’t in the know, would immediately assume they are being ripped off in way or another, whether they pay for a game in $10 chunks or buy it in a full $120 purchase.

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