Random Babblings: Price Wars Part II

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posted 9/11/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
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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.
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