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Businesses The Almighty Buck Games

Can $60 Games Survive? 435

Posted by Soulskill
from the inflation-vs-customer-expectations dept.
donniebaseball23 writes "Game budgets continue to rise with each successive console generation, and with the Wii U launching later this year, the industry is on the cusp of yet another costly transition. Publishers have been regularly charging $60 for games this generation, but that model simply cannot survive, Nexon America CEO Daniel Kim said in an interview. 'I think at some point the console makers have to make a decision about how closed or open they're going to be to the different models that are going to be emerging,' Kim remarked. 'Today it's free-to-play, and I'm convinced that that one is going to continue to flourish and expand into other genres and other categories, but there may be something else completely and entirely different that comes out that again changes the industry.' He cautioned, 'If your mind is just set on keeping the current model of buy a game for $60, play for 40 hours, buy another game for $60, play for 40 hours, that model I think is eventually going to change. It's going to have to change.'"
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Can $60 Games Survive?

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  • HotS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lawpoop (604919)
    I don't care, I'm still buying Heart of the Swarm when it comes out...!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Freddybear (1805256)

      Me too, and Diablo III as well. I expect both of those $60 titles will be good for a lot more than 40 hours of play.

      • Yeah, but you can pick up Crazy Machines or any of its standalone xpacs on Steam for $10, and easily get 10-20 hours of gameplay, not to mention fan-created puzzles. Isn't that better economy than paying $60 for a 40 hour game?

        Don't get me wrong, for nostalgia alone I'll probably pick up D3, but the only $60 titles I've bought in years have been sequels to games I played a long time ago. I just don't see the point when most AAA games coming out are 10-20 hours, tops, and then expect you to spend *more* mone

    • That should probably cost less than $60 since it is just an add-on... although by the time it comes out, it'll probably cost $60 if you adjust for inflation
    • And I'd pay an extra $10 if they added LAN support back.
  • $60 games? Luxury! (Score:5, Informative)

    by JackCorbae (693005) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:08PM (#39347473) Homepage
    $60 Games? I'd LOVE to see the price drop to $60 games. Most new PC Titles in Australia debut at between $89 and $99. The collectors edition of .. .Dragon Age I think it was, was $109. $60 games ... luxury.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:10PM (#39347501)

      And the AU$ is worth more than a US$ at the current exchange rate.

      • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:14PM (#39348111) Homepage

        Which is what drives us Aussies nuts! We know that the games are not worth what we pay, there's no justification to pay almost double US prices in some cases (some PS3 games release at $120... that's 1/3 the cost of a console). I refuse to pay full price for games here. It's either hit up a torrent site or wait until they drop to a reasonable price on Steam.

      • by crossmr (957846) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @03:33AM (#39349709) Journal

        Canadians have dealt with it for years. It's much more obvious to us since we get american channels and ads and everything else.
        Back when the Canadian dollar stopped being garbage it took a long time for book sellers to reset their prices. When the dollar sucked and waslike 63 cents us, we were paying 6.99USD/10.99CAD for books.
        Then finally the dollar shot up and was work 1.02 USD. But the book companies didn't adjust their prices. This went on for a month or two and people started getting really ticked off.
        They could buy it in the US and ship it cheaper.
        I think their solution was to raise the US price.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:14PM (#39347545)

      And console games are regularly $120. Ten years ago, when the exchange rate was at $US0.50 - $US0.60, it made sense. it was the US price + a little overhead for the distance + exchange rate. now we're at $US1.05ish and have been for a long time without sign of dropping there's no excuse for $120. If it's $60 in the USA, it should be $60 in Australia, or maybe $65 to account for extra logistical costs.

    • by Dyinobal (1427207)
      Why is that? Taxes? or what?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Opportunistic profiteering. It used to be exchange rate, but the Australian dollar has doubled in value since the $100 price was set, but the price of games has never come down in response.

        Either the distributor or the publisher is pocketing the windfall, I guarantee neither the developer nor the retailer is getting any of it. If the retailer was, then competition would have brought the price down.

        • by Dyinobal (1427207)
          Huh you'd think they'd get hit with price fixing or something. Then again I'm in no way qualified to speculate on anything legal or economic in nature.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Definitely profiteering. I was a game dev until the high dollar ripped the arse out of the local industry, and I also had contacts with an Australian distributor from a previous job, who let me buy games at wholesale prices as an employee perk. We were paid the same to develop the game, no matter how much it made. At wholesale price, I was paying around AUD65-80 for new games, which if you factor in all the costs of running a shopfront isn't giving the retailer an excessive profit at AUD90-100 per game. Wit

          • by Ihmhi (1206036)

            Solution:

            1) Find more fellow pissed off video game employees.
            2) Form your own company.
            3) Make and sell games domestically at a lower rate.
            4) Sell games to Americans for $60 (when they're $30 in Australia).
            5) Profit!

      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        Nah, it's because up until a few years ago, the Aussie dollar was only worth 50-70 US cents. The prices were thus basically equal in the US and Australia once you took into account the exchange rate.

        Since the financial crisis though, the AUD has appreciated significantly against the USD (or more accurately, the value of the USD has been pummelled badly), with the result that for the last couple of years 1 AUD has been worth equal to, or more than, 1 USD. But of course game publishers and retailers aren't su

      • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:49PM (#39348379)

        Why is that? Taxes? or what?

        Media is only subject to the Australian Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10%. So that's A$72 per game Ex GST (no tax). All prices in Australia are Inc GST unless explicitly stated otherwise.

        The problem is local publishers having a stranglehold on the market. They set the price at an artificially high price point based on an exchange rate that hasn't been seen for a decade (not even the GFC got that low and we're pretty much consistently above US$0.70 since 2004).

        A while back the Australian government made it legal to parallel import many products including games, movies, digital media, clothing and electronics from overseas. Shipments of A$1000 or less are GST exempt (but other duties like alcohol tax still apply). So I just import from the UK or Hong Kong for half the price of buying it locally, the OP pointed out Mass Effect which is A$88 for the PC, I can order it from Zavvi.co.uk for GBP 28 which is around A$45.

        This year alone I've bought a laptop and 2 SSD's from the US saving nearly A$1000 in the process (Asus U46SV in Oz A$1400, in the US US$850, tax is still only 10% but seeing as it was under A$1000, I didn't have to pay it).

    • Australia's game pricing is ridiculously high, but so are your salaries and thusly the cost of everything else in the store.

    • by Alamais (4180)
      The international shippers charge extra to murder their way through the horde of sharks, giant spiders, and dingoes to get the games to your stores.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:09PM (#39347483)

    Here's your game, for just 10 bucks. Plus 5 bucks for the equipment that you need in level 2. Plus 7.99 for the multiplayer addon (i.e. what you actually bought the game for). For just 3 bucks a pop you get new maps. Not happy with our controller layout? For just 5 bucks you can now create your own AND store it online on our server for just 3 bucks a month. Oh, talking about it, to play online of course you have to pay 10 bucks a month to play on our secure and dedicated servers... for as long as we run them only, of course. Which will be about a year, when the 2013 edition comes out. But hey, it's only going to cost 10 bucks!

  • by decora (1710862) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:10PM (#39347491) Journal

    predicting the end of the $40 computer game.

    people say we are logical, and we have science, and we no longer rely on witch doctors and shamanism and we dont believe in magic.

    but pundits are our shamans, and we throw bones trying to predict these things that are not only unpredictable, but dont really matter that much, but we love to do it.

    something about the mysticism is there in all of us , and which part of it is good, and which is bad?

    the really interesting moments when you realize you were wrong, and you were wrong for wrong reasons.

    • This is beyond true.

      How many times in the last six months to the last two years have we read about the downfall of Apple? Or Google? Or Microsoft?

      How many times have pundits been wrong on so many other topics like politics or economics? Hell the weatherman can't even figure out the weather that far in advance(I suspect though, that technology may change this).

    • by causality (777677)

      the really interesting moments when you realize you were wrong, and you were wrong for wrong reasons.

      If you eventually gain the perspective it takes to realize something like that, was it truly a wrong reason?

  • Mass Effect 3 is $80 (Score:3, Informative)

    by rsilvergun (571051) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:11PM (#39347509)
    Yeah, you can buy it for $60, but there's a chunk of pretty critical [youtube.com] zero day DLC. Heck, Super Street Fighter II was $70 in 1995, and Phantasy Star was $80 in '84. But then again those were both commercial failures in the States...
    • by Nemyst (1383049)

      That comes down to being savvy. You can buy the game and the DLC for $70 total, the Deluxe doesn't add much beyond that. On top of that, if you look around a bit you can find the base game for $50, which comes down to $60 for the game and the DLC.

      Sure, it's still high, but not as outrageously high as the Digital Deluxe edition.

      • by jaymz666 (34050)

        or you can wait 6-18 months and get the game for $10-$20 on sale on origin or steam if they let them sell it and the DLC is still $10.

      • If you were truly savvy, you'd wait a year, and pick it up used for $20.
  • I personally abhor multiplayer games, I need to be able to pause and be entertained when my schedule allows. I don't think being nickle and dimed to play a single player game is going to be an easy pill to swallow, look at all the anger aimed at DLC and Bioware right now for Mass Effect 3's release day DLC

  • I expect the market to correct the model of $5 DLC for one hour of play to occur before $60 for 40 hours of play. DLC, hats, and paid content with regards to Free-To-Play will do well in the market....but there is a lot to be said for a level playing field and flat initial cost for people that play in even casual/competitive games. Knowing another player can drop $20 and get a BFG-2000 that insta-nukes his opponents may encourage griefing kiddies to play...but eventually drives away the core market.

    That being said, it Riot Games has done an excellent job with balancing Free-To-Play competitive gaming with League of Legends [leagueoflegends.com].

  • Biased Parties (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rsmith-mac (639075) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:15PM (#39347561)

    This just in: Free 2 Play Publisher Says $60 Games Doomed.

    Meanwhile In other news this evening, RJ Reynolds has a new study out proving that smoking is good for you and makes you look cooler.

  • by flagg9483 (940242) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:16PM (#39347571)
    Are you kidding? There are men out there who will pay $200 if a woman will just get naked and call him daddy for an hour. Anyone who thinks gamers won't pay $1.50/hour for a game is crazy. Hell, I pumped more than 6 quarters an hour into arcade games once a week when I was a kid, and that's back when you'd actually pick up a quarter in the street if you found one.
  • by Gideon Wells (1412675) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:16PM (#39347573)

    Games having been keeping up with inflation if you assume the same time goes into producing a game, but just using better technologies. Good games can be worth 60. The only thing I see ending is bad games being able to charge as much as they used to now that there is more competition thanks to Steam, X-Box Live Arcade and the like.

    But then look at TF2. Valve has admitted that game hit a ceiling in profitability, and making it F2P has turned it into a real money maker. So that might be the future. Cheap game, sell hats for profit.

  • by Evil Pete (73279) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:17PM (#39347585) Homepage

    ... games are typically $100 or even $110. I see ME3 for PC is going for just $88 ... a bargain :-/ What's that in US currency .... $93. Yeah.

  • It's pretty simple. When publishers stop making fixed-price games, I stop buying their products. I won't pay a subscription fee for games I play casually (read, all games), and if you think I am going to accept yet another advertising Trojan into my house, think again.
    • by isorox (205688)

      It's pretty simple. When publishers stop making fixed-price games, I stop buying their products. I won't pay a subscription fee for games I play casually (read, all games), and if you think I am going to accept yet another advertising Trojan into my house, think again.

      I think I spent £5 on a (re-relase) of monkey island (and monkey island 2) on the iphone. I missed them the first time round. I'd glady play £5 for a re-release of sam and max, and day of the tentacle, as I don't really remember them.

      I don't often get a clear half hour to sit down and play a game any more. I do get the time to do it on the phone though, waiting in queues, elevators, etc. I'm still waiting to get a chance to install civ4. When I was younger I spent days playing civ 1, 2 and 3, bu

  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:21PM (#39347631)

    when 4 hour games cost 50 bucks?

  • Zero Day DLC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OutLawSuit (1107987) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:23PM (#39347655)

    I have no problem with $60 games or even DLC. The problem I have is $60 games with zero day DLC (like Mass Effect 3). It's obvious that many developers are starting to use it to discreetly jack up the price of the core game. Then to add insult to injury, they claim it was never intended to be part of the core game despite the files already being physically on the disk.

    If developers were just honest, I wouldn't have much of a problem with the practice. Instead, they're trying to play us for idiots.

  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:26PM (#39347673) Journal

    Don't forget inflation when complaining about game prices.

    $60 in 2010 adjusted using the unskilled wage as an index via MeasuringWorth.com:

    2005: $55.30
    2000: $48.60
    1995: $41.00
    1990: $35.30
    1985: $30.40

    The CPI-based results are within $1-2 of this, if you're curious. I tried to dig up some old game prices for comparison, but this information seems hard to find. Anyone know a good source?

    • I remember 10+ years ago/the CD era that PC games were more of a "standard" $50 at release (with console games being the more expensive $60 or even more in the cartridge period some years before that).

      I honestly don't remember what they cost during the floppy years, I was too young and games magically appeared on 10 floppies.
      The best way to find release prices pre-internet might be historical copies of catalogs (sears, service merchandise, etc).
      I assume someone somewhere keeps those things.

    • by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:06PM (#39348061)

      "Don't forget inflation when complaining about game prices."

      Let's not forget wage stagnation. Everyone forgets about the most important thing - stagnation of wages. What matters is purchasing power and that is more complicated to calculate.

    • by NIN1385 (760712)
      I feel I need to also point out that these games sold back then were also a physical good that once you purchased you owned everything necessary to play that game all the way to the end and you could even re-sell said game when you got tired of it for a price that wasn't terrible.

      Inflation does come into play big time, but the way games are delivered to the customer is really pissing a lot of people off, me being one of them. Today when you buy a game you're actually just purchasing the product key for t
  • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:26PM (#39347675) Homepage Journal

    When I stopped buying video games, the average game took me about 60-80 hours to finish.

    My friends now regularly finish games in as little 12-15 hours.

    So where I paid $40 for my games, about $0.50/hour play time at best, my friends are now paying about $2-4/hour, and that's not even ten years later.

    What's unsustainable is the presumption that gamers have infinitely deep pockets, or that people don't give damn about the value for their dollar if the game is "good enough." Sooner or later, things are going to crash. And the popularity of used and "old" games in the $20 bins is starting to prove that point, as are the number of $10-20 internet games.

    Remember, the industry is now competing with "App" games that sell for $1-5 each. Sure "Angry Birds" doesn't have the visceral glory of the console games, but it's fun to the people who play it and it's not costing them an arm and a leg. Expect more of the same, or a major crash in the whole gaming industry.

    • I enjoy online play and I really enjoy Plants and Zombies. I've played about the same in each. P&Z is beer, the online I play is wine. Beer will never replace wine.
    • by firefrei (2569069) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:54PM (#39347961)

      When I stopped buying video games, the average game took me about 60-80 hours to finish.

      My friends now regularly finish games in as little 12-15 hours.

      So where I paid $40 for my games, about $0.50/hour play time at best, my friends are now paying about $2-4/hour, and that's not even ten years later.

      Three things:

      (1) Good games are generally replayable. I don't like buying games that I play only once and then shit on the shelf. A good game for me is one that has enough depth and variety that I can replay it in a number of different ways and get different outcomes. For recent titles, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is one that comes to mind. I can play stealth only, or entirely non-lethal, rambo style, undetected by anyone, and so on. Or I can just take more time at exploring the world and finding hidden entrances/praxis kits. Whatever works, so long as I can keep playing the same game until I'm bored. It certainly saves me money and extends the time I can enjoy the one game.

      (2) I generally don't want to take 60-80 hours to finish one game. Make a game too long and you run the risk of the player becoming a bit bored and wanting to move onto something different. This is where (1) comes in handy - a shorter game with greater replayability means you won't have to wait too long for the game to reach its conclusion, then you can replay with different tactics/a new character build. If the game was crazy long, you might end up restarting with a new build before it even ends (or worse, abandon it for something fresh).

      (3) $2-4/hour, not taking into account (1) and (2) is still a lot better value than most hobbies.

  • In the past I have been less than perfect about paying for the PC games I play, mostly because $50 and even $60 games seem overpriced for what they are. But I would definitely pay a reasonable price (
    Does anyone have any suggestions or links to a sort of "Gamespot of Indie Games"? I don't even know where to start.
    • Just wait a year or so. Prices do come down, you know. And if you're playing single-player games like Skyrim, e.g., it won't even matter except that you won't understand all the jokes about taking an arrow in the knee.
      • I don't have the game, but I did see the cut scene, AND an explanation, and I still don't get all the jokes about taking an arrow in the knee.
    • by jaymz666 (34050)

      steam. they have lots of indy games

  • Q: Can $2.5M cars survive?
    A: Of course, but you better be damn sure that it is of exceptional quality, and can accelerate 0-60 in 2.5 seconds.
  • Though I'm a PC gamer - I own about 6 console games and usually just rent them...

    Since I don't have enough time to play games like I used to and don't read magazines and so on I'm fine with buying the "game of the year" things for the games that kept their "good game" vibe long after the hype died. Heck I usually wait intil the game of year set with all the DLC has been out long enough to be half price.

    But free to play ones stay free - with "micro" payments to make them actually fun often being required (es

  • Is this for real? I remember paying $50+ for NES games when they were new. Considering a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread costs twice what it did then, I can't help but scoff at this topic... yeah, $60 games will survive just fine in a world where a drink at a bar is $10 and tickets, drinks and popcorn to a movie (for 2) is well over $30.

  • wrong question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:49PM (#39347887) Homepage Journal

    I think the question ought to be, "Should $60 games survive?"

  • I buy and play games because they are fun! What is killing the $60 games it's that they are not worth $60. They are the same game as the last one with better graphics more DRM and the same glitches. When you are playing a multiplayer game and can't kill your opponent when you sneak up behind them and empty all your rounds into their backs. They turn around and with one bullet you are dead. It's not a cheat it's a poor engine design because I've been at both ends of the experience.

    And for the love of god I k

  • As someone who is making a game myself [blockstory.net] I can say that the money is on mobile now. There are millions of people with what are essentially portable game devices, looking for something to kill time while commuting or waiting in lines. $60 is unrealistic, but $5 have the potential to get you thousands of purchases per month if you have something decent. This is particularly good for indi developers like myself, since capital investment is small in comparison to consoles, and there is already a whole cheap infra

  • by MindPhlux (304416) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:10PM (#39348089) Homepage

    I'm sort of surprised by the comments on here. I'm approaching 30, so I grew up buying games in the 'good old days' when they were ~$20-35. But if you account for inflation, is $60 really that unreasonable? I mean, I'm not mindblowingly rich, and I am pretty stingy with my money as far as just going out and dropping a 50 bill on something - but $60 for a really good game seems pretty ok. Most of the time, the $59.95 titles will have preorder sales or whatever for $45-50, and if you can wait a couple months, you can usually score top tier games for $39.95.

    I'm pretty OK with paying that amount of money for good games - they usually last more than 4-6 movies lengths of entertainment, so that seems par for course as far as entertainment goes. Of course, I never spend my money on bad games - I usually find a way to errr, preview them before committing - so maybe my game buying experience is different than that of the average consumer.

  • by NoSleepDemon (1521253) on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @11:47AM (#39353307)
    Nexon's games might be "free", but they're also trash. Case in point: Dungeon Fighter Online suffers frequent hacks and break ins, and players complain on the message boards about SIX MONTH WAITING TIMES [nexon.net] for tickets involving account hacks and the items stolen are items that were paid for by real money. I'll take my $60 game thank you very much, because that's the only money i'll have to spend on it to enjoy it, and no one's going to break into my account and nick all my stuff. An example of the kind of crap Nexon customer support makes its players deal with:

    Greetings,

    ****Please note that this is an auto-generated message from Nexon Support based on your support ticket. If you are reading this message in your email, please understand that any replies to this email will not be seen by the Nexon Support Staff. If you would like to provide additional information please add a comment to your ticket.****

    Unfortunately, we are continuing to experience a high ticket volume at this time. We have not forgotten you and we apologize that a GM has not yet been able to assist you.

    Please note our Nexon Support business hours. We answer tickets Monday through Friday, 10am to 6pm Pacific time.

    We will do our best to assist you as soon as possible.

    Thank you for your continued patience,

    Nexon Support Team

    Ticket Information:

    Ticket #: 19000-1054887

    Date Created: 1/18/2012 05:55 PM PDT

    Ticket created in January, nothing but weeks of automated emails. A little ironic that a person whose company is this epicly awful at serving their customers is trying to tell others how to operate their business.

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