Random Babblings: Price Wars Part II

Random Babblings: Price Wars Part II

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 9/11/2003 for

Awhile back I wrote an article called Price Wars. At the time of that article the industry was abuzz with the possibility of a console price drop. Everyone was speculating on who would break first, Microsoft or Sony, and who would be the one to lead the market to an (at the time) affordable $200 gaming console. While the title of my article may have implied that it was on this very issue it was about something far more important than that. It focused on the out-of-control price of video game software, especially in the PC-realm. Now it’s a year later and gamers have had time to become accustomed to the $49.99 price point for console games, but is it enough? This past summer there have been talks of a possible increase in the retail price point of games, and with the holiday season soon approaching the consumer just might be in for the shock of their lives. Such a disaster can be averted, however, and I’m here to tell you how.

All right, so I haven’t personally paid for a video game for the better part of two years but I still have a genuine concern about the pricing of video games in today’s marketplace. As members of the media, we here at the ‘Nexus have an obligation to speak for and on behalf of the gaming public. I may not pay for my video games but I’m not oblivious to the talk that goes on every time I enter my local EB. Kids who live off of mommy and daddy’s money may not gripe and moan over the cost of video games but there is a huge contingent of working-class gamers who understand the true value of the dollar.

When one thinks about it logically the bulk of the gaming populous is composed of the coveted 16-35 demographic. Many of those gamers most likely hold a minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage job. Factor in the fact that most of these potential buyers must pay bills, living costs and other leisurely costs and that leaves very little excess that can be spent on video games. What little money that can be scavenged to be spent on video games must be utilized to the fullest extent and thus only a few select handful of titles can be purchased.

Now imagine if games cost $29.99 each.

That’s almost double of what you’re able to get in today’s marketplace. It doesn’t just benefit gamers either, the industry will be rewarded handsomely for this. There’s no elastic supply and demand when it comes to the gaming industry so gamers purchase a game because they see it fit, not because of the limited supply. If the price were to decrease to $29.99 it would open up the game to a whole new market of gamers. Because the price has gone so low gamers would be more willing to take a chance with a game as opposed to holding out for a Grand Theft Auto Vice City every six months or so. Next time a gamer heads into a store they may be more willing to take a chance on a Vexx or a Tao Feng because the perceived loss isn’t as great. More sales equates to more profit. Sure the companies will have to sell more games but in the long run everybody prospers.

While I’m very pleased that all three consoles have some form of Sony’s Greatest Hits line, I think it’s unfair to those who did pay full price to give those games that distinction. It sort of reminds me of those appreciation days that Toyota likes to have for their customers. What they do is they give a price break to everyone for making the Camry the number-one selling vehicle. The problem is, the people who actually made the Camry the best-selling vehicle aren’t the ones who are being rewarded, but rather all of the people who sat around and waited for the price to drop are the ones who are benefiting. It’s because the Camry owners already have the vehicle, why would they want to purchase another? But Joe Shmoe who wisely sat around waited for his neighbor Bill to buy one can now capitalize upon his neighbor’s stupidity.

The same applies to this Greatest Hits ideology. The people who are benifitting from this aren’t the ones who plonked down the $50 to make the game a hit. How are those people who supported the game companies being rewarded? By being given the pleasure of watching some kid walk in and spend $30 less on the game. It’s ridiculous and borderline insulting. The proper way to reward the people who made the game a success is to give them a voucher that’s good for $20 off their next purchase. It could be simple, when the game hits Greatest Hits status simply bring the original non-Greatest Hits case to the register and receive the discount. Sure the companies may lose a little bit of money but hell, think of the millions that these loyal fans just poured into them. It’s time that they got something back for all of their loyalty and support.
Here’s a snippet of a conversation that I recently overheard:

Guy 1: “Dude have you played that SOCOM game?”

Guy 2: “I wanted to but its as expensive as hell”

Guy 1: “Yea seriously man I wonder why it’s 60 bucks. Don’t PS2 games sell for 50 bucks?

Guy 2: “I thought so but I guess this one’s special or something”

The two guys look at the game for a little while longer and decide to pick up a copy of Brute Force instead.

Not that I meant to single-out Sony in this instance, but it’s an example that makes a whole lot of sense. When I inquired about the high price tag at Sony I received a response along the lines of “You’re paying an extra $10 for a headset, isn’t that a good deal?” Then I countered with the fact that all other Sony first party titles sell for $39.99 retail so in essence, the $14.99 retail headset is being included for $20, a loss of $5 for the gamer. Not such a great deal anymore is it? Further proof of this was brought forth when Sony released the stand alone title for $39.99 a few months after.

It’s not to say that industry isn’t trying to relieve the burden on potential buyers. Aforementioned Sony has taken the first step by selling all of its first-party titles at a fairly attractive $39.99 while the other two console makes have offered lines of titles similar to Sony’s Greatest Hits line. It’s nice to see that more and more titles are coming out at the $39.99 price point each and every week, especially ones that people actually might be interested in such as Sega’s Otogi and not just lame games like E Club DJay.

While its nice to see that some companies are in fact getting the point how about the others? When will be able to see Madden or Grand Theft Auto debut at this price? Well the power, believe it or not, is in your hands. Maybe it’s time to give the game companies a little shock, let them know that you’re not mindless saps who will eat up whatever they serve you. Perhaps the next time a big hit comes out you may want to hold out a few months, let the developer sweat a bit and force them to lower the price. Then when the price goes down swoop in and pick up the title. Do it enough times and they just might get the message. You never know, maybe someday we’ll see games debut at a lower price point. The power truly is in your hands.

Just beware because this may be the calm before the storm. Perhaps the companies are just lulling us all into a false sense of security before they hit us upside the head with the knockout blow. Who knows what the future holds? Anyone want to make any guesses on how much PS3 titles will cost? How about Xbox 2 games? PSP games? Or even PC games? Make a stand today and you’ll be able to spend more time worrying about how you’re going to find the time finish a game as opposed to how you’re going to raise a cash to buy it.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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