Lately, there has been a lot of talk about ludicrously priced DLC. If you remember, back in January/February, there was tremendous uproar over Evolve’s absurd DLC plans. Then Mortal Kombat X came along with its season pass and overabundance of microtransactions. Of course, when Call of Duty Black Ops III was announced, you know a season pass was announced too. And just recently, Batman: Arkham Knight’s season pass was announced for an atypical forty bucks.
Nowadays, just about all Triple A releases have some sort of DLC, microtransactions, or season pass. I’ve already ranted about my disdain for DLC here and here, so I don’t want to complain (too much), about that in this post. Instead, let’s discuss what video games are worth — what is a reasonable price point for a title at launch, regardless of all additional add ons?
As consumers, we’ve accepted the $60 price point for console/PC triple A games and $40 for Nintendo DS games. Before the consoles launched, some people speculated that Xbox One/PlayStation 4 games would rise in price to $70, and that, thankfully, hasn’t happened. Games have kept their sixty dollar price point from last generation even as inflation increases and the cost of developing games rises (one reason why they release so much DLC). Personally, I think $60 right now is a little much for video games, especially if you add on DLC prices.
So, if $60 is too much, what is a fair price? I would like to see console games (for the sake of this piece, “console games”/”games” = Triple A console/PC $60 games) get launched with a $40 price point. Now, I’m not an idiot — I know that this is never going to happen. Why would companies reduce the price of their games when they’re selling so many at sixty bucks a pop? But, I think this would be fair.
By now, you know that The Order: 1886 wasn’t worth sixty dollars — it had a short seven hour campaign and nothing else — but was it worth forty dollars at launch? Maybe not, but that price point is a lot easier to swallow when buying the game and if it wasn’t sixty dollars then the game wouldn’t have generated so much controversy surrounding its length. A forty dollar price would also allow pre-owned copies of The Order: 1886 to sell for even less than $40, bringing the game’s value to an even more reasonable price. This can be said for plenty of other single-player games whose campaigns last barely north of 10 hours. $60 is too much for a game with a short campaign and little replay value, but $40 might be a bit more inviting to consumers.
Let’s look to arguably the biggest release of the summer, Batman: Arkham Knight. Arkham Knight closes out Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy. The previous games have been fantastic and have earned many Game of the Year nominations and awards. However, I find myself constantly debating whether Arkham Knight is worth purchasing for me. I’m not one for the challenge maps/game mode, so I would only be playing the game for the story, side missions, and Riddler Trophies. I don’t know about you, but I found Arkham City to be incredibly short. For some sittings, I would just collect Riddler Trophies for an hour or two to make the game seem longer. For $60, I don’t know if it’s worth purchasing a game I more than likely won’t pick up again after finishing the campaign. But for $40? I’d buy it day one. A solid 12-16 hour game, to me, is worth forty dollars.
As I described above, I think a lower price point would sell more games. Just think of it — you could get three brand new games at $40 (3 X $40 = $120) for the price of two at $60 (2 X $60 = $120). Lower prices means more new games will be sold, leading to the publishers actually getting the money from new games sales as opposed to a consumer buying a game on eBay or a used game at Gamestop.
Not only would a lower price point sell more new games, a $40 price point would also sell more DLC. With games being cheaper, gamers would now be more susceptible to purchasing DLC. I wouldn’t have to rant so much about DLC prices if the base game was cheaper. Mortal Kombat X’s season pass would look a little more enticing if it didn’t bring the total cost (base game + season pass) to $90 but instead to $70. If gamers saved twenty dollars right off the bat buying a new game, then surely more would turn right around and spend that money on DLC. Not all gamers would, but the amount of DLC purchased would definitely increase seeing as the games themselves are cheaper. I know I certainly would be more open to purchasing Season Passes if the games themselves weren’t already making $60-sized dents in my bank account.
Now, I mentioned above that I know game prices will never be lowered to forty dollars. Retailers have no reason to lower the price of games when the games are selling well at $60. This is just the price that I think is reasonable and fair for Triple A titles. However, how ’bout retailers and I compromise? Let’s go back to the $50 price point that was used back when the original Xbox and the PlayStation 2 were dominating the market (and DS games can be lowered to $30, like GameBoy games). This way, I don’t feel so poor after buying a game and the gaming industry still makes a shitload of money. Lower the price of Season Passes by $5 at least (in most cases), and I think more people will be open to not only buying a new game at launch but also purchasing its DLC.
Ultimately, this isn’t going to cause any sort of change and is instead intended to provoke discussion. What do you think would be a fair price for games? What is the most you’re willing to spend on a new game? Do you buy DLC and how much are you willing to spend on it? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!