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The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Do Video Games Cost Too Much? 763

Valve's Gabe Newell gave the keynote address at this year's Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain (DICE) Summit about the cost of games, the effect of piracy, and how to reach new players. Valve undertook an experiment recently to test how price affected the sales of their popular survival-horror FPS, Left 4 Dead. They Reduced the price by 50% on Steam, which "resulted in a 3000% increase in sales of the game, posting overall sales that beat the title's original launch performance." They also tested various other price drops over the holidays, seeing spikes in sales that corresponded well to the size of the discount. This will undoubtedly add to the speculation that game prices have risen too high for the current economic climate. G4TV ran a live blog of Newell's presentation, providing a few more details.
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Do Video Games Cost Too Much?

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  • Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @07:07AM (#26926951)

    Yes. That was easy. Next!

  • by Blimey85 ( 609949 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @08:22AM (#26927349)
    That's the beauty of the 360. You can't lock a game to a single console because the consoles break so damn often. Although to be honest, I've had mine for nearly 2 1/2 years and it just broke a month ago after which it was less than 2 weeks turn around on getting it fixed by Microsoft at no charge. Didn't even have to pay for shipping so I think they are handling the issue as well as they can. They should NOT fail as often as they do, but what's done is done I guess.

    Anyway, I recently got into Fallout 3 on my new xbox while I was waiting for my old one to be repaired. After it came back I put the old one in my living room and then found that my downloadable content would only work on my account, not my wife's account. I had to login to the xbox live site and move the licenses from the one console to the other. Solved the problem. It was a bit frustrating but I can understand why they do it. Keeps me from going to a friends house, logging into my account on live and then downloading DLC packs to other consoles. I mean I can do that, and I can play it on the other console just fine, but I guess other users on those consoles would not be able to access it. Seems like a fair trade off. I can still get to it from any console, but other users can only play it on the console that I have a license on.

    Or maybe I've got it all wrong and there was just some issue with other users playing it on the one console until I did the license move thing.
  • by MistrBlank ( 1183469 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:41AM (#26927949)

    Valve has already stated that prior to shutting down Steam if it ever came to that (it's current success indicates that the service will never shut down wholesale), they would release patches to make the games available offline.

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Informative)

    by sesshomaru ( 173381 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:48AM (#26928043) Journal

    Perhaps not, but I'm 39....

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by cowbutt ( 21077 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:47AM (#26928953) Journal

    Actually, there's a more salient point there - older networked multiplayer games tend not to actually get many players. I recently installed my copy of Unreal Tournament on my new machine and went online only to find mostly empty servers. Even when I bought it (budget re-release, and used even) they used to be rammed.

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Informative)

    by ScottCooperDotNet ( 929575 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @11:03AM (#26929275)

    The Unreal Tournament series is largely undefended against cheating, and that's a major problem for an FPS. Epic has made their cash, and what's the incentive to resolve the problem now?

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Friday February 20, 2009 @11:24AM (#26929639)

    Psst... MAME is often used for arcade ROMs. What, do you expect him to buy a $5,000+ arcade box?

    What if I want to buy BlazBlue which isn't on any consoles yet? I can't, and good luck finding a machine within walking distance.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by daVinci1980 ( 73174 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @01:17PM (#26931449) Homepage

    Are you including games and music in that 'information should be free' quote?

    Because people pay money to develop that information. They feed their families by their ability to make that information, because the companies they work for expect to be able to sell licenses for people to use and enjoy that information.

    Would game developers and musicians just charge for 'support' of their games and music? Does that mean I get to call Billy Idol when his mp3 doesn't play properly in my car? Based on the number of MP3s that haven't worked properly for me in the last 12 or so years, I think Billy might have to find a day job.

    The trouble with good ideas is that people tend to want to overapply them. There's nothing wrong with free information, when it's your choice to discover and release that information for free--I write and release free software. But requiring that all information be free is just as bad as requiring all information be closed. They're opposite sides of the same coin.

    Of course, being as this is slashdot, I expect to be modded down to -9001.

  • Re:Yes (Score:2, Informative)

    by Chosen Reject ( 842143 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @01:44PM (#26931859)
    Why is it that people have this weird fetish with capitalizing letters that don't need to be capitalized?

    What prompted you to write VALVe rather than just Valve? But before anyone jumps in and says that's how Valve spells it, check again. The last 'e' is smaller than the other letters, but it's still capatalized! It's an 'E', not an 'e'. It's VALVE, not VALVe. Notice the difference? If you're going to capitalize everything else, just keep on capitalizing everything like they do. Never mind that /. doesn't know how to use the <sup> tag. All the letters are capitalized.

    Why do people insist on writing ID or iD when it is just id? I can see Id, as that is the more common convention, by why anything else?

    Why do people write MAC when referring to the Macintosh as the short form Mac?

  • by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @02:27PM (#26932503)
    If you were to graph the price on the X axis and the profits on the Y axis, it creates an inverted parabola. If you charge too little, you get a lot of sales but you earn less money. If you charge too much, you lose so many sales that you eventually lose out on profit. What TFA is saying is that games have overshot the peak of the parabola, and he's hinting that it's by something like 3x.

    This completely agrees with what I think is happening. In my experience, there are only a few games I'd be willing to pay $50 for, maybe a dozen in the past 3 years. With my siblings, they'll buy maybe one in that time period. With my parents, they're old fashioned and wouldn't pay that for any game. If you were to lower that to $20, it would at least quadruple my buying, my siblings would at least reach the level I was at, and my parents would be willing to buy a few a year if they were able to try them out first.

    There would also be the side effect of reducing the used game market to nearly nothing. The reason that the used game market exists is because the games are too expensive in the first place. The trade in value for a used game would go down so far that if there's even the remote possibility of playing the game again, I'd keep it around. I'd use it as a gift before trading it in. Whereas right now, I'll trade in a game if I don't believe there's replay value.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern