I have a confession to make: I usually buy single player games at discounted prices. Single player games are enjoyed in isolation, and the quality doesn’t diminish over the course of the months it takes for the price to come down, so it makes a lot of sense to me to wait and pay what I feel is a fair price. However, once every hundred thousand years or so a single player game releases with so much hype around it that I can’t help but jump in at full price. Up until now, I think Bloodborne was the only single player game this gen to turn my head at full price, and I picked that up at £49.99.
Now God of War is generating the sort of hype that a gamer can’t rightly ignore. £52.99. A sly £3 change to pricing in the wrong direction. The upcoming Detroit weighs in at £52.99 as well, so it looks like Sony are settling on a new RRP for the games they publish. The cheapest edition of Spider-man that is available on PSN is an Activision-territory £54.99. That could be an anomaly down to the complex ‘web’ of licensing around Spidey (Ba-dum-tsshhh), or it could be that Sony are looking to keep the upward trend going. With God of War selling over 3 million copies within a matter of days, you can be sure they are not feeling any pressure to climb back down.
neither God of War or Detroit have any kind of micro-transactions or anything you could accuse of being unsavoury or hidden.
Meanwhile on the other side of the gulf, Sea of Thieves carries a £49.99 price tag, which also represents an increase in RRP as Microsoft started this gen with a £44.99 price point for their “big” games. It is hard to speculate what they will do next with their pricing, since… you know… they haven’t actually got any games coming out that we can check.
A few quid here and there might seem fair and reasonable, and no big deal. I’d agree, except we’re living in a world where a rumour that Microsoft might be changing the price of Game Pass in Swedish Krona is apparently worth complaining about, it boggles the mind that nobody breathes a word about real increases in the RRP of first party games, so… I’m going to go right ahead and breathe it over the internet.
Of course as with anything worth talking about, things aren’t quite so simple as someone might first think when seeing the prices charted out. The games industry is awash with changes to pricing and distribution models, and neither God of War or Detroit have any kind of micro-transactions or anything you could accuse of being unsavoury or hidden. Sea of Thieves, Game Pass, GaaS… I’m not even going to touch on that right now, as I have other things I need to get done this week. Issues around rising costs of development, as well as normal inflation and the dreaded Brexit impact are all significant factors that determine pricing. The gradual shift towards digital marketplaces should really herald a seismic shift in pricing that we’re not really seeing (which is a topic I’ve covered fairly extensively before). There is quite a tapestry woven beneath the issue, but none of that diminishes what we see on the surface: 1st party prices are on the rise.
With God of War selling over 3 million copies within a matter of days, you can be sure they are not feeling any pressure to climb back down.
This article isn’t intended as a complaint or ‘open letter’ rant. I don’t want you to boycott Detroit or throw pebbles at execs at E3 (well… no maybe something softer?). The price of games is a broad and deep topic that I could talk about for hours, but in this case I’m certain that open discussion will be more interesting than my own voice. So here are a few questions that I hope will kick off some interesting contributions.
-Do you buy games at full price (or there abouts) as soon as they release?
-If push came to shove, how much would you be willing to pay for the privilege of playing God of War?
-Should pricing be determined by amount of content in terms of play time? Development budget? Gigabytes of data?
-Are gentle increases to upfront prices more palatable than Micro-transactions and season passes?
Let me know in the comments below. No registration necessary.