The Cost of Gaming

So, today I got into a debate with a co-worker. It was a healthy debate, and I wanted to share our thoughts on the matter. It triggered when he said "Games are too expensive," and spiralled from there.

On one hand, he suggested that games are becoming more and more expensive thanks to the falling Canadian Dollar (and overall inflation). I agreed that this was only partially true, because you can easily find old flyers on the internet showing NES and SEGA games being sold at $45 a pop, USD - which would be, in fact, more money back then compared to today.

So are games really more expensive today? In a manner of speaking, sure! The ever increasing demands of producing high quality content coupled with employee wages would argue that, yes, some games are more expensive. When you start to talk about Indie games on the other hand, that's when it started to get messy. Why are they priced the way they are? $10, on average, perhaps? Less staff? Looking to move more units?

Ultimately, we agreed that it's not that games are getting more expensive over time - just more expensive based on the faltering value of the Canadian Dollar.
We also came to the conclusion that is it easier to make games (There are a lot of Indie titles out there!), that in order to make a name for yourself, you really have to stand out. Too low of an asking price may signify that your product is poorly crafted. Too high and you're suggesting it's AAA quality. In the middle is the sweet spot, but do we even bite?

He made a comment that, there are so many games coming out that his wishlist is growing larger and larger. Surprise! So is mine! There are so many games crying for our attention, and not enough currency to go around, that we are that much more choosy as to what we acquire. That also means less income for the Indies because of the competition factor. The game has to really shine to get an instant purchase, otherwise it runs the risk of "when will it go on sale or be in a bundle" doom.

We discussed that in length too, about the devaluation of games. Putting games in bundles making the game essentially worthless. Worthless games going into a bundle is already common enough, but sometimes there are good games that could have sold well if they weren't so ambitious with their asking price in the first place. Instead of lowering the price, though, it finds itself in a bundle at a value price. Not all games in bundles are worthless, but it gives the impression that it's not all that great, that it needs to be sold for pennies at minimum.

My steam wishlist is 160 titles strong, with few AAA titles and many Indie releases. The cost of all of these titles is just over $3,500 Canadian! For comparison, my Steam library contains over 900 games and have spent no more than $4,000 on these titles. One must consider the several bundles of games that were acquired at mere fractions of a dollar, Steam bundles and sales, etc. This is the problem we both agreed existed: There are too many games crying for our money, and they cost too much to buy them all.

Cost too much? I should clarify. One game doesn't "cost too much." However there are so many games that $10 here for Game A or $10 for Game B causes us to buy neither A nor B, and wait for one or the other to go on sale, so that we may get both A and B for $10. If there were less interesting games, we theorize there would be more purchases and less need for discounts. As it stands, games are releasing every day, begging for attention - and most of us do not have the means to provide that attention, because our money is reserved for only the absolute best.

Of course, Valve has added in refunding. This kind of adds the ability to 'demo' a game, but I'm not comfortable using the refund service in this manner. I'd rather not get cut off from Valve's refund feature because I abuse it. I've only used it once so far, and it was extremely easy to do. We could have argued about how games need demos, but that would be for another time.

It's a shame we don't have a podcast for our useless rants. Some of the things we discuss would make you wonder if we were insane or geniuses. Or both.