It’s been awhile since I’ve actually felt inclined to pay full price for a video game, and me being cheap is only a small percentage of the reason.
Previously, that $60 price tag was just enough to make me shrug and plan on saving up for the game later, or buying it when it went on sale. These days, that price makes me cringe every time I see it, knowing that there’s about a hair’s breadth of a chance we’ll get what we’re paying for. Instead of structurally sound games with a completed amount of content, we’re getting buggy, choppy, and poorly optimized messes that still charge us between $10-$20 for DLCs. Preorders long ago lost their value, having become a way for companies to rake in more money while providing the customer the bare minimum. What this leads to is a parade of disappointed gamers who feel as if they lost more money than they spent, especially if the game’s quality is a little worse than lackluster.
Prior to the standardization of video game pricing, you could get a game from anywhere between $20 and $90. Even today, it’s mainly the AAA game companies who choose to keep within the $50 – $60 price range, due to the massive budget involved with keeping a franchise up and running, while more independent companies and indie devs tend to set their own prices based on the content and the type of game.
Take Arkham Knight as an example. With the flood of bad game releases that have relentlessly plagued the industry since mid-2014, you’d think Rocksteady would’ve taken greater pains to ensure that the final product was something fit for release. Instead, someone forgot to flip the switch on the optimization bar, turning the game into a very pretty slideshow on most people’s machines. Even though those who had already bought the game weren’t affected by the recall, they’re still waiting on an official fix for the performance issues. That’s $60 dropped for a game that is, at present, unplayable for some.
There was also Rockstar Games’ little stunt during 2015’s Steam Sale with GTA V. Now, most of us didn’t open our store pages expecting such a popular title to get an 80% discount slapped on – after all, the game did make number one in the highest game development cost list. However, we also didn’t expect Rockstar to push the game’s pricing up to $80, throw in some microtransactions, and slash the price back down to $59.99 after very briefly listing the game for about $30. It was a dirty, seemingly desperate move, one that caused no small amount of controversy. At this point, the game is about ten months old – a discount wouldn’t have hurt, and the game’s sheer popularity might have even pulled in more money from those who’d been waiting all year for the summer sale to get their hands on it.
In 2015, it’s my humble opinion that the $60 price tag shouldn’t be clawing desperately for a foothold when the quality, the amount of content, replayability, and the honesty in AAA titles has taken an abrupt nosedive. If I’m going to drop that much money on a video game, I want to know that I’ll be able to pick it up and play it again and get my money’s worth. I don’t want to feel as if I’ve wasted my time, nor do I want to have to wait weeks for patches to fix the game that should’ve been polished to begin with. If I want to play more content, I have to drop more money for the DLCs, bringing the total to a little over $100 once all’s said and done.
My beef isn’t with the game companies for having standardized pricing – it’s the fact that the standard remains no matter how choppy and half-polished the final product turns out.
Is it whining? Probably. But it’s been a long time since I’ve genuinely felt as if I got my money’s worth out of a game I bought at full price, and if things keep going as they are, that sentiment isn’t likely to change.