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Businesses The Almighty Buck Games

Game Prices — a Historical Perspective 225

The Opposable Thumbs blog scrutinizes the common wisdom that video games are too expensive, or that they're more expensive than they were in the past. They found that while in some cases the sticker price has increased, it generally hasn't outpaced inflation, making 2010 a cheaper time to be a gamer than the '80s and '90s. Quoting: "... we tracked down a press release putting the suggested retail price of both Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64 at $69.99. [Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumer's Association] says that the N64 launch game pricing only tells you part of the story. 'Yes, some N64 games retailed for as high as $80, but it was also the high end of a 60 to 80 dollar range,' he told Ars. 'Retailers had more flexibility with pricing back then — though they've consistently maintained that the Suggested Retail Price was/is just a guide. Adjusted for inflation, we're generally paying less now than we have historically. But to be fair, DLC isn't factored in.' He also points out all the different ways that we can now access games: you can buy a game used, rent a game, or play certain online games for free. There are multiple ways to sell your old console games, and the competition in the market causes prices to fall quickly."
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Game Prices — a Historical Perspective

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  • N64? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 07, 2010 @03:34AM (#33821628)

    Give me a break.

    Genesis. Phantasy Star IV. $99. Pfft.

    Love the modern baaaawing about game prices. You kids have *no* idea.

  • by gravos ( 912628 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @04:05AM (#33821780) Homepage

    Remember that even if the real price of new games rise, that doesn't mean a gamer is in a worse situation than he would have been in the past. Quite the opposite in fact.

    Today you can play thousands of older titles for very low prices. There are probably 10 times as many freeware games available today as there were 30 years ago. You can get on youtube and watch "Let's Play's" of virtually every popular NES and SNES title for free. Many of these games are only surpassed by current titles in the graphics department.

    In other words, it's a great time to be a gamer even if you don't buy a single "new" game.

  • by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @04:37AM (#33821924)
    Console game prices were initially higher because you had to account for the cost of manufacturing the cartridges. However today all consoles use DVDs or built-in storage of some sort so that cost is no longer justified. But the games still cost a boatload. The justification is that the production costs are higher.
  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @04:44AM (#33821964)

    >Cartridge (ROM) based games are more expensive to manufacture than CD/DVDs. Perhaps a comparison of like for like would be better.

    Ok, but what about the billions and billions of dollars they don't lose to piracy? Doesn't that factor into the pricing somehow?

  • by Notlupus ( 1893060 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @05:23AM (#33822130)
    You should try working on engaging in an active discussion without sounding like a total dick.
  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @06:08AM (#33822336) Homepage

    Production costs have gone way up since the 1980s. Many Speccy games were written by students or people working at home (I know, I was one of them) with maybe some help from a friend doing the graphics. You'd then go to a game company, they'd _maybe_ retouch the graphics and hire (eg.) Rob Hubbard for a couple of days to do the music. Total cost: $8,000

    Even the 'pro' games were done by one programmer and a graphics guy who'd be shared shared between three projects.

    These days a game needs about 20 people working full time for a couple of years, often hiring motion capture studios with gymnasts/actors, etc., along the way. Game development budgets are now in the tens of millions (low-end Hollywood range).

  • Re:Yeah (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 07, 2010 @06:13AM (#33822360)

    Perhaps in terms of production cost. Development cost of (retail) games tends to be much, much higher nowadays. We're talking multi-million dollar projects here.

    I have no idea whether publisher's profit margins have gone up or down. It doesn't really matter all that to the discussion at hand anyway. The article addresses the very common complaint (especially on /.) that "video games have gotten more expensive," and the article simply shows that that's factually incorrect.

  • by ProppaT ( 557551 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @09:24AM (#33823588) Homepage

    Well, if you want to put it into perspective, I paid ~ $70 a pop for Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II Turbo Edition, and Super Street Fighter II on the SNES. I bought a ton of platforms back in the day as well...most of which were rehashes of the last in the series.

    World at War is considered a joke because of it's multiplayer patch. Many companies do DLC the right way. For example, Boarderlands provided a compelling single and multiplayer game from the get go, then provided 4 different DLCs...three of them being excellent additions to the game. While I bought platformer after platformer in the 80s and 90s, now there are games such as Little Big Planet that have infinite available stages.

    It's hard to do a direct correlation because the game industry has changed so much over the past 30 years. I definitely think we have it good compared to how things used to be. In retrospect, it's ridiculous how much I spent on gaming as a kid when you take into account inflation and what you get now vs. what you got then.

    I like buying DLC because it gives me extra content with games I love and own. I don't like games with a thousand different sequels.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday October 07, 2010 @09:28AM (#33823644)

    Not all forms of entertainment have dropped. Ticket prices for movies and concerts have increased by substantial amounts, even adjusting for inflation. Back in 1980, a console game would cost you about $30 ($77 adjusted in today's dollars). A movie ticket would cost about $2.50 (about $6.50 in today's dollars). Now, unless you're buying some sort of special edition, console games cost a lot less that $77 (and that's even more impressive considering what it costs to develop a game today vs. what it cost in 1980). But movie tickets cost a lot MORE than $6.50 (and god help you if it's in 3D, you'll need a loan for that).

    And concert tickets...jesus, if you even have to ask. I can remember paying $25 for good concert tickets (for mainstream bands) just 20 years ago. Today it's crazy what you pay even for tickets to no-name bands' concerts.

  • by index0 ( 1868500 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @11:12AM (#33824910)
    But after the initial costs, the duplication of the games cost almost nothing to the publisher and in 2010, there are more video game customers than there were in 1980s.
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @12:05PM (#33825694)

    The most popular of these, the Atari VCS/2600, sold games for $30 new, and $25 for older titles.

    What cost $30 in 1978 cost $97.60 in 2009. The Inflation Calculator []

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