Gaming, Video Games

My Opinion on… The $60 Price Point and DLC

This is a topic that can be quite volatile in the gaming community. First of all, lots of gamers tend to complain that $60 for a video game is too expensive. Others hold the view that if you’re going to buy a game, (especially for $60) it should come with all the material designed, or the DLC should be free. They feel that paying more money on top of what you already did for the title is outrageous.

Both sides combat with decent arguments, but here is where I stand:

First up is the $60 Price Point:

It’s no secret that games have gotten more expensive over the years, but the question is this: how expensive is too expensive? Many say that $60 is too expensive, especially if the title turns out to be of bad quality. As it is, somebody working minimum wage has to work about 10-11 hours just to buy one new game (after taxes and other deductions from the $7+ wage). But for those of you who think games are too expensive, have you ever considered how much it actually takes to make a AAA game? Take a look at this pie chart from a 2011 article on newgamernation.com:

https://i2.wp.com/www.newgamernation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/game-cost.jpg
(Courtesy of http://www.newgamernation.com/editorial-is-the-60-dollar-price-point-too-high/)

After all is said and done, the publisher walks away with an average of  one dollar in profit per game sold. This is due largely to high-definition graphics and the insane amount of programming that oftentimes has to go into new games, as the graph shows. The cost to produce a game is expected to increase as time goes on, as games become larger, disks hold more space, and graphics become more crisp. It is important to note, however, that Xbox One and PS4 games will retail for $60, for now at least. The future remains to be seen.

As you can imagine, indie games have lower costs because many indie games use simpler graphics, contain shorter storylines, and forgo packaging, retail, and licensing fees, for the most part. This does not mean that indie games are better or worse than AAA titles; they are just different. Many indie titles focus more on storyline, morals, and internal conflicts. This may be partly because this is less expensive than creating big budget action games, and of course, it’s due to the unbridled, untampered creativity of indie developers; they don’t have to report to a publisher telling them what to do or make.

So what does this mean? If you realize the amount of time, money, and energy that goes into a blockbuster title, then be willing to shell out the cash, especially considering the slim profit margin. Otherwise, explore the quirky world of indie games for your virtual adventures. I’m not saying this to be mean or brutal, but considering their product margins, it’s difficult for them to lower their price. So…. deal with it, I guess.

You might say, “AAA publishers and developers should just spend less money on the title; take away some sequences, tone down the graphics, etc.” Well, this isn’t feasible, as the quality of the games will go down; then what’s the point in playing the game? It’ll be a junk game, even if it’s cheap. No matter the price, if a game is bad, I’m not playing it. Basically, the more expensive a game is, the more money they can devote to development, which creates a better game (in theory).

Another thing to point out is this: the society that attacks games for being so expensive declines to bat an eye at the movie theaters that charge $5-10 for the ticket, plus insane amounts of money for concessions. If you want popcorn and a drink, one person can go to the movies for about $10-15 here in rural America; $20+ in the city! Why do we accept this? Let me do some math for you:

https://i2.wp.com/images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20121009145241/halo/images/a/a1/Halo-4-Box-Art.jpg
(Courtesy of http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20121009145241/halo/images/a/a1/Halo-4-Box-Art.jpg)

You go to the movies for $15 to see a two hour movie. 15 divided by 2 equals $7.5 per hour of enjoyment. Then assume that you purchase a console title; say, Halo 4. Also assume that you play the campaign for about 8 hours,  so 60 divided by 8 equals $7.5 per hour, on the campaign alone. Assume then that you play online for a few hours, spend a little while playing the Spartan Ops missions, and next thing you know, you’ve racked up 30 hours of playtime. 60 divided by 30 is a mere $2 per hour of enjoyment.

This is a conservative number. Take massive RPGs, for example, where you can pour over 100 hours into a title. You’re looking then at about 50 cents per hour of playtime. On a more personal note, my COD Elite app says I’ve played Black Ops II online for 200 hours. Plus, I played the campaign, plus I’ve played roughly 30 hours of zombies, as a rough estimate. 60 divided by 240 comes out to exactly 25 cents per hour of fun.

On top of that, I could go and trade in Black Ops II to Gamestop, or I could sell it to a friend or on the internet for $20 or more. If I receive a $20 “return on investment,” it’s pretty much like I bought BLOPS II for $40. 40 divided by 240 means I would pay a mere 16.6 cents per hour of play. Can you buy many other items for fun that only costs you a few pennies per hour? I didn’t think so.

When you look at it in this new light, it makes video games seem rather inexpensive, doesn’t it? I gladly pay $60 for a game because I know that I’ll get dozens to hundreds of hours of enjoyment out of each title, thus making gaming a much cheaper alternative to bowling, going to the movies, attending a festival or concert, or even going to a ballgame.

Of course, there are games that don’t give you enough bang for your buck. Games where the campaign is extended through paid DLC make me mad. I love the storyline of a good game; I don’t want to pay to finish the storyline. Multiplayer DLC is fine, since it isn’t pertinent to enjoying the game; I’ve never bought any multiplayer DLC, and I don’t feel that I’ve missed out. If my games featured few maps, however, and I had to pay for more, then I would be upset. As long as I have a decent amount of content for my $60, I’m happy with it.

(The same can be said for a $400 PS4; I know I’ll play it for hundreds and hundreds of hours, so it’s a start-up cost I’m willing to pay, as it’ll end up paying for itself in the future.)

It goes without saying, however, that there are some features that just NEED to be in games. For example, I’ll be upset if I pay $60 for a game to find that there are no subtitles, as this is a basic and customary feature of nearly any game with a script. The same goes for sensitivity controls, brightness settings, etc. If I’m paying $60, it better contain all the basic mechanics and features that a good game should have. There’s no reason for a game to be stripped of these essential items.

Now, moving on to DLC!

I’ve somewhat touched on my thoughts on DLC, but I’ll go more in depth here. Like I said already, I dislike DLC for campaign, but I don’t mind multiplayer DLC. What about DLC such as that in Dead Space 3? You can buy weapon upgrades. This is a ripoff to me. It wouldn’t cost them any more money to include the upgrades in the base game. Why were they so money hungry to charge you for a simple weapon upgrade? This can be a (slightly) game-changing item, so it almost takes on a “pay to play, but pay more to win” stance. Those who dish out more money will have an easier game in theory, although I’ve never played it myself.

http://biggestoftech.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/black_ops_2_personalizations-0_cinema_640-0.jpg
(Courtesy of http://biggestoftech.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/black_ops_2_personalizations-0_cinema_640-0.jpg)

What about weapon vanity packs, like in Call of Duty? If you want to spend a couple of bucks on useless camo, go ahead! It doesn’t change the experience any, so if you’re willing to dole out your cash for vanity, that’s fine with me. When the purchasable items change the game or give others an advantage, that’s just wrong. As long as it’s merely for looks, then it’s up to the player to decide if it’s worth their money.

Of course, it would be nice if these were free as well, but it’s not necessary. If you’re concerned with playing the entire game without spending $100, then wait a couple years for the GOTY edition to come out; most games will re-release with all DLC after a couple of years, and it’s usually cheaper than the original title was without DLC; once the company has sold enough copies to cover their design expenses, the rest is straight up cash, (kind of) which is why game prices drop. Another reason is that the game isn’t in high demand any more, but that’s beside the point.

What did I miss? Any aspects of the price point or DLC that I didn’t touch upon? Let me know what I missed, and leave a like or a follow if you’ve enjoyed! Check out John and Nathan’s YouTube channels in the “Links” tab, and I’ll see you later.

Signing Off

Matt

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3 thoughts on “My Opinion on… The $60 Price Point and DLC”

  1. I agree on the price point, and the DLC, I enjoy the map packs and extra zombies games on BL2 and have no problem paying for them. I also like the extra adventure you can buy for AC3, although I never played it myself, it seems pretty cool and I think they were well withing their rights to have people pay for it.

  2. Right; as long as it isn’t pertinent to finishing the storyline (or extending it) then I’m fine with it. Extra missions just for the fun of it are just fine, like you said.

    1. I also think games should include ways to obtain items/alternate costumes/upgrades in game, but also let you pay to be lazy. I think that would be fair to everyone.

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