So yesterday I find out that publishers believe (or just hope) that the next generation of games will increase in price to sixty bucks a pop. This is not a total surprise to me. Eventually games would have to increase in price as games get more and more popular. Supply and demand. Here’s what gets me in this article though: they want to increase the price of the “AAA” games only. THQ readily admits that their children’s titles probably wouldn’t sustain such a high price point while Take Two says they would apply the increase “where appropriate.”
It would seem that they want to charge you $60 for whatever game they decide to hype into oblivion. Interesting. Like I said over on Joystiq, this could lead to some interesting scenarios.
For the sake of argument, let’s say they release Halo 3 at $60 and for all intensive purposes, it’s just Halo 2 with prettier graphics. So it’s fun just nothing revolutionary. At the same time another console shooter with a name no one has heard of pops up. It’s slow out of the gate because of no name recognition but it gets excellent reviews and good word of mouth. While it isn’t revolutionary either, it’s a lot of fun and provides gamers with a new experience. Plus, it’s $20 cheaper than Halo 3. What would you buy? Especially if you just bought your kid a new XBox and heard that both these games were pretty good?
It’s not hard to imagine that little upstart FPS getting more sales (or just threatening to) in the long run and embarrassing Microsoft into lowering their price. Just ask EA how that feels. The publishers in this articles seem to want a market that’s just ripe for undercutting.
On the other end of the pricing game Reuters is reporting that Microsoft wants to introduce an online store in your game. So developers add a level to your favorite game? Five bucks. New weapons, armor, spells? 50 cents here, a dollar there. Nothing new really, just paying for add-ons just in your console instead of your PC. But Microsoft seems to imply in this article that they want every game to have this functionality. This is bothersome.
For the most part I have nothing against the idea. After beating a single-player game, I might be enticed to buy another level, get new cars in a racing game, or purchase new enemies and weapons. That is, as long as the price isn’t too high and the lack of a certain item doesn’t really hinder the original game. I’ll be mighty pissed if the only way I can defeat an end boss is to buy a certain gun that’s only available through the online store. I already paid $60 for your crap game at least let me play it.
A worse problem could occur online multiplayer games though. Imagine you sign up to World of Warcraft and you play and play. For weeks you build up your experience, earn your gold, build up stats (I’ve never played the game so excuse me for my ignorance when describing it). For your hard work, you’ve gained a kick ass sword, unbeatable armor, you can take just about anybody. You alienated friends and family for weeks but dammit, it was worth it.
Then some punk kid with their mommy’s credit card buys all your stuff in thirty seconds.
That’s why World of Warcraft just cracked down on all those folks who where selling things in their world. Sure, they lost some customers, but they were at risk of losing more customers in the long run. No one wants to play a game where the only way to win is to have the most money. What I described above isn’t like the Red Sox and the Yankees buying all the best players, leaving the rest of the league to sulk. It’s more like those two teams being the only ones who could afford bats.
Overall though I think Microsoft’s idea can work but developers need to be smart with what they offer. New outfits and new avatars for a FPS? Good. Room-clearing rocket launcher that you have to buy? Bad. Just remember that these are games and games need level playing fields.
wow…. i wonder if I can keep this writing thing up….