These days $60 is the set price for when a AAA video game gets released physically and digitally on the market, but how many gamers are actually paying that price anymore? GameStop claims that its not as many as it should be, and the average price of what people are expecting to pay for a downloadable game has dropped to roughly $35.
GameStop President Tony Bartel has unveiled the company's research into the matter, and in fact, $35 isn't even the price people pay for just the full game. That is a figure which includes the entire lifetime of the game, extending to DLC, microtransactions, and subscription fees. What does a gamer expect to play for just the full game anymore?
"… recent research with gamers indicates that the average price being paid by a customer rate full game triple-A download is $22. When asked what price a game expected to pay for a recently released full game digital download, the answer in these surveys was approximately $35."
He does not make any indication of how long players have to wait to pay such a low price. The research also suggests that "over $100 million worth of games have been digitally delivered for free in hardware bundles" in 2014 so far — which is leading to the further devaluation of games in players' minds."
"We want to help ensure that our industry does not make the same mistake as other entertainment categories by driving the perceived value of digital goods significantly below that of a physical game."
Can anybody attest to this? Absolutely true for me. The only video games I have spent $60 on this year have been Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U. This is mostly because I know the value I am getting from a Nintendo game, but also because I know it is going to take a long time to wait for that price to drop to anything else. Nintendo won't play by these rules because it doesn't have AAA software on its console to compete with.
In the meanwhile, we have Steam and GOG sales occurring several times a year, weekly sales from PlayStation and Microsoft, the Instant Game Collection and Games with Gold, and weekly Humble Bundles, all viable ways to score great games for a much lower price than the requested $60 entry fee. At the same time, indie games are cheap and can provide more fun than a AAA hit, and even the big games of yesterday, like PS One and PlayStation 2 Classics, can also provide just as much value for $6 or $10.
It is a problem of devaluing a product, and it could be very bad for business to see your products flying off the digital shelves at a fraction of the cost you would like them to. AAA development costs a lot of money, and it sets that $60 pricing point for a reason.
Only problem is that I am an adult in the real world and not a statistic on a piece of paper. I love the games I play and value them sentimentally, but I have rent to pay, events and vacations to save money for, and possibly children coming in a few years. If I want to take part in my favorite hobby, the asking price for games is a little high, and the three month waiting period to find a game on sale is totally worth it.
I know this is a hobby and something I should cherish, but it is also a business. Appealing to our sentimentality to pay more money into it is not going to help, especially at the rate the $60 games see botched launches. It is not our responsibility to cover the risky budgets of AAA development, especially when there are so many other options for gaming habits these days.
It's a problem they have to find a solution for, not us.