Friday, 31 January 2014

That's Bullshit: Video Game Prices

That's Bullshit is a new feature where I'll be calling the video game industry out on any bullshit taking place. The first piece of bullshit to be sniffed?

Games are poorly priced.

Think about it for a second, you can get a game like Skyrim, with hundreds and hundreds of hours of gameplay, for £40. Or you could have bought a game like Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, or Vanquish, with about eight hours of gameplay, for £40. Or you could buy a game like Battlefield 4, whose multiplayer allows for virtually endless gameplay, for £40. Uncharted and Vanquish are awful value for money, whereas Skyrim or Battlefield are great value for money. 

Why are games priced like this? And why the hell are we happy to pay for them like this? 

I love the Battlefield series, heck I pretty much love multiplayer based FPSs in general, and they are great value for me. For £40 I can have a game that I know I will enjoy for, at minimum, one to two years with regular play. Multiplayer centric games are fantastic value for money. In a normal year I probably only buy five to ten brand new, £40 games. These often belong to blockbuster franchises like Battlefield or Assassins's Creed. The thing is I just don't have lots of money to spend on brand new games because it's often hard to justify spending £40 on something that only lasts about ten hours. So I turn to RPGs or multiplayer based FPSs or open world games. These games represent value and I am more than happy to spend £40 on them. 

What I don't get is why I'm expected to pay the same amount of money for something with less value and why others are so willing to. Obviously this isn't a huge problem as far as the publishers are concerned. People are clearly happy to pay these prices or the games wouldn't sell and so we would no longer see such a pricing method. But why don't we make a fuss and get things changed? Think about it, if you could buy a game with hundreds of hours of gameplay for £40 and then buy a game with ten hours of gameplay for £15-£20 wouldn't you be happier? 

On top of this perhaps we could see a pricing model where single player and multiplayer modes are sold separately? I bought Battlefield 4 the day it came out and play it every week for a few hours but have yet to touch the single player outside of getting impressions for my review. But I've still been forced to pay for it! Why not release the multiplayer separately for £30? A good example of this in effect is that I want to play the single player of most Call of Duty games when they come out, because they're good fun, I don't want to play the multilayer all too often however as I could be playing Battlefield multiplayer. So I don't buy CoD. However if the single player was separate and cost £10 I would gladly buy it every year. 

As I said before I know that from a business perspective this doesn't make sense, consumers aren't demanding a price change so why lose out on money? However if gamers would demand a change, by speaking with their wallets, then perhaps we could see an industry where the pricing makes sense. 

Maybe I'm just too stingy, but I don't want to pay £40 for ten hours of playtime and £40 for a hundred hours. 

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