Is Gaming Too Expensive?

Out of all the reasons why people choose not to play video games, the most often heard excuse is that as a hobby, gaming is simply too expensive to both break into and maintain. This sentiment is echoed not just by newbies but by longtime gamers as well, with many expressing grievances over the physical price of being a part of video game culture. Indeed, there are quite a lot groundwork and ongoing costs required, including the purchase of a modern system (PC or console), accessories, good internet, and new games. At first, the concern over expenses seems quite understandable, as video games can lead to hundreds of dollars spent on mere entertainment. However, what many people seem to miss in regards to this topic is just how subjective the idea of cost and value is. The problem isn’t that gaming is ‘too expensive,’ but that the greater public doesn’t know how to value the art form.

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Whenever this subject is brought up in videos or online articles, discussions seemingly always devolve into a futile debate over ‘system superiority,’ which is a shame considering how important this topic is to the wider gaming industry. As implied before, price can sometimes be the deciding factor that swings potential customers, making it a vital component in how the medium of video games can garner more interest and appreciators. 

For a while now, video games have occupied a strange space in the minds of the public, with people unsure as to how they should view the medium. This is understandable though, as gaming is indeed a bizarre mix of art, consumer technology, home entertainment, nerd culture, and the bleeding edge. It is perhaps that fusion of influences and aspects that have muddled the image of gaming in some people’s minds. Over the years, I’ve seen friends spend hundreds of dollars on new phones and computers yet bemoan the expensiveness of consoles and games. Why? Well, it’s because gaming is still viewed as less of a technology and more of a toy. Video games are considered a novelty. That’s why the general public is always aghast at violent games: they don’t take the medium seriously to begin with. The initial price tag for a moderate PC or console can be confronting to newcomers, as they simply don’t see it as a worthy investment. 

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In terms of actual value, video games can represent some of the best in all of entertainment. The price of a movie ticket in Australia (where I live) is around twenty-two dollars. Meanwhile, a new retail game goes for seventy-nine dollars with upwards of ten hours worth of content. Considering how movie tickets give you access to a two-hour film you can only watch once, video games are by far the more cost-effective form of entertainment. And all of that is under the assumption that we’re dealing with a new retail game with ten hours worth of content, not considering cheaper indie titles or RPGs/Open-world games that can often last dozens of hours without becoming stale. To equal just ten hours worth of content with movies, I’d have to watch five of them and pay a hundred and ten dollars. 

At the beginning of this piece I mentioned how price and value are mostly subjective, and after all I’ve said, that’s still true. Even though video games are great value nowadays, it all depends on whether you have enough to spend. Buying within your limits is perfectly normal and fine. However, what I’d like to see less of is people disparaging video games in general, not seeing the medium for its worth, literally and figuratively.  

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17 thoughts on “Is Gaming Too Expensive?

  1. Honestly, I’m not sure I really have an answer for that. On one hand, it’s usually far more costly to play a game than to see a movie or read a book. Indeed, I used to be for console competition because I thought it would encourage innovation. While that may have been true at first, it’s not the case now, and it’s not a consumer-friendly practice as a result.

    Then again, making a game takes much more work than other those mediums. Among other things, a typical film script is utterly dwarfed by a video game script – even in linear titles. Keeping that in mind, they likely need to set the price points high just to break even. Even if I think one format would probably be ideal, it’s definitely not a black-and-white issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s the one thing I hate about people who say video games don’t have any great stories. Game scripts in general are harder to make because there are a lot of variables involved, especially nowadays, since cutscenes are no longer seen as the best storytelling device.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, that’s a trend I’m glad is falling out of practice. Cinematic cutscenes were pretty cool when they were new, but they have really overstayed their welcome by this point. There’s a reason I tend not to cite Metal Gear Solid 3 as one of the best story-heavy games out there however much I like it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder if the ideas of “expensive” and “too expensive” are sort of blurred here. Gaming is expensive, but you also get what you pay for. Red Metal spoke about movie scripts being dwarfed by video game ones, but that’s only because video games are so much longer. I’m actually writing an article about word usage in video games (the excitement never ends, I know), but, for reference, Twilight Princess should have at least 3 times as much dialogue as it does, to be comparable to a movie of the same length. However, this doesn’t account for designing and programming the world, the characters, the dialogue, fixing bugs, etc etc. They are also longer than most movies, and many take longer to get through than books.

    Just checking the price of a Lord of the Rings movie… to purchase as many copies as it would take to “fill up” the run time of Twilight Princess would cost about $130. At it’s release, TP was about half that cost, so… video games might be expensive, but I don’t think they are “too expensive” for what they do and what we *ask* them to do. But I agree with Red Metal, this isn’t a black or white issue, and I’m sure there are details that I’m missing, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Anything related to home electronics is bound to be ‘expensive’ in some way. But in the end, what’s costly to one person might not be to another. In general, I think video games inhabit a pretty survivable space in the ‘price spectrum.’

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This post is so true, many people who don’t game don’t consider it an art form, when like you said, it’s actually an amalgamation of different things. Not only that, it’s also a platform for escapism for many people, so anything that can do that is not only a worthy investment but an art form in its own right.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Some people just seem hell-bent on controlling and disparaging the views of others. I would never tell anyone that their art isn’t art. I’m sure game developers are sick of hearing it by now.

      Like

  4. For what Video games offer I think we should be paying more. Just the art alone with the intriguing story is what connects us and keeps us coming back more. Thumbs up to every game developer OUT THERE.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The idea of whether it’s too expensive is completely subjective since people are going to see the medium and individual games differently. Some people might say that it’s not too expensive for reasons like their income or how they value games. The same concept goes for things like designer clothes, Basketball shoes, etc. You can’t really come up with a definitive answer.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The way how video game is portrayed in the media make it less acceptable in the mainstream society. Here, in the U.S, it is often criticized by conservative people who think it is a waste of time. Deep down, I think some of these people are just intimidated by what technology can do to the society.

    Liked by 1 person

    • People have always been threatened by the advancement of new technology. It’s important, however, that we don’t try to fully legislate it and control new industries before they even have the chance to grow.

      Liked by 1 person

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