John Riccitiello

Former Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello, the man who helped build one of the biggest video game companies in the world, has stepped forward to say that video games are simply too expensive.

During a speech at the Gaming Insiders Summit, Riccitiello claimed that console games need to come up with a more variable pricing plan, similar to mobile games, simply because “$60 is a giant FU to a very large number of people.”

“There’s not been a console game with even half as many installs as Clash of Clans. Puzzle & Dragons has got more installs than any console game in history. Getting a larger audience through variable pricing is a really useful thing.”

Riccitiello is correct that free-to-play has taken off on the mobile market, but what’s holding back the console effort is not so much that great games can’t be made with the free-to-play model. This biggest problem is great games aren’t being made with the free-to-play model.

Traditional console giants have been very slow to introduce free-to-play on consoles, and the only company off the top of my head who is attempting to push the idea forward is Namco. Its four most popular franchises – Tekken, SoulCalibur, Ridge Racer and Ace Combat – all have a free-to-play either out or due in the coming months, each of them bringing top quality entertainment to the console space.

The only thing free-to-play needs to take off on the console scene is a solid hit, and the others will fall in line. Crytek is trying something big with Warface and wants to expand further.

Perhaps free-to-play is not the answer to everyone’s problem, but much like the indie market, its presence could possibly put a dent in the $60 price tag that’s been standard for far too long. I haven’t paid $60 for a video game in nearly a year and have been getting by just fine.

Riccitiello’s speech also focused on the size of video games, which now generate more money than Hollywood and the Super Bowl, and the importance of brand names in the video game industry.

“Gameplay is superior to tech. Yes, you’re going to need to be somewhere near but not necessarily on top of the leading edge of technology. But I would argue that chasing tech for eye candy or going 3D because it’s cool is a recipe for making more expensive games, not better games.”

Riccitiello always has been gamers first. Sounds like he should be calling the shots for a major video game company with sentiments like that. Oh wait, he was.

Do you agree with the man? Is $60 too much for a video game?