Gamers have gotten used to shelling out a lot of money for games over the years. However it’s sometimes common for all of us to feel shorted when we pay up to $60 for a regular retail game and it doesn’t live up to our expectations or to what was promised to us by the developers. When being charged ~$60 for a game, which is rather expensive, it’s natural to expect the game to be worth the price tag. So, while things like game mechanics, graphics, and sound are factored in to a game’s final score, a price usually isn’t wholly considered in most cases. So should prices be included as main points in reviews and should prices of AAA games match the content within them?

Games being published for consoles, for example, are priced at what they are for many different reasons. This ranges from skyrocketing development costs to royalty fees for publishing on a specific console. Pricing for games is wildly varied now due to the waves of indie games hitting the market who aren’t bound by some of the same publishing fees AAA games are hit with. However years ago, you expected a fixed price for most new games depending on platform.

It’s obvious we think a lot of games are worth the price we pay, otherwise we wouldn’t buy them. Some games even exceed our expectations. Infamous: Second Son is a prime example of a game with lots of quality content to justify the price. So how do we know which ones are worth it? The qualities that give a game value obviously vary depending on the person as well as what kind of game it is. We can’t really mark down the value of a game like The Wolf Among Us for not having multiplayer since that’s obviously not it’s focus. On the flip side, if a game like Killzone: Shadow Fall was released without any multiplayer we’re left scratching our heads because we expect both a single-player campaign and multiplayer modes with our modern shooters. So in essence, the value of a game is relative to the type of game as well as dependent on the person who’s reviewing it. In this sense, the inclusion of price into the the final score of a game would make sense since everything else a review is based on is relative to the reviewer’s opinion. But what of the prices themselves? Should the prices of AAA games change based on how much content is within the game?

Infamous: Second Son certainly gave us plenty to do with our $60

Infamous: Second Son certainly gave us plenty to do with our $60

Some games do this to some extent. Many of us have seen games released in stores at a price that might be $10 cheaper than that of other new releases on the same platform. Some developers realize that their game might not be worth the $60 of some other titles or are simply trying to see if a lower price point would entice more people to buy the game. That is what we’ve been asking for all along right? Cheaper games? Well as humans we like to contradict ourselves without always knowing it. In the case of AAA console releases, if games are all $60, we complain that the prices are too high because not all games are worth that much for one reason or another. However, if a game breaks the mold and release at a slightly cheaper price-point of $50 then we automatically assume that the game must not be as good as some of the other game we pay full price for. Believe it or not, some of the games that get released at lower prices are sometimes better than the ones we pay the standard price for.

For instance, while the game Deadly Premonition might not have had the graphic fidelity that some of the other games at the time did on the Xbox 360, it sported a meaty-sized campaign with a fairly large map to explore and lots of side quests and other things to do. Since it’s release, it’s become a cult-classic. More recently, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes was released at $30. While the game was criticized for being short, it received fair reviews. One could argue that the short campaign is completely acceptable considering the fact that the game was only $30 and the content that you got for that amount of money.

Though toting a cheaper price, MGS: Ground Zeroes was still criticized for it's short length.

Though toting a cheaper price, MGS: Ground Zeroes was still criticized for it’s short length.

Pricing strategies like these are becoming more commonplace within the industry. As that happens, gamers are becoming more accepting of the lower pricing of certain games and aren’t simply writing these titles off as “bargain bin” games. So as we start to see this trend being set by some developers, should gamers put more pressure on other developers to lower prices of certain games at launch they feel aren’t worth $60? This is definitely a dangerous road to go down. How would the price of a game be dictated? How much content justifies certain price points? Keep in mind that some of these games are priced as such for a reason. With development costs of AAA games rivaling those of major Hollywood movies now, sometimes even the $60 a pop isn’t enough for some companies to break even, and let’s not forget that every developer is going to be confident that their game is going to be better than everything else on the market. So while they might see pricing a game at a certain amount, gamers might not agree.

As you can see, this line of thinking opens up a whole slew of issues. However, some games could probably due with a little price axing. Franchises like Call of Duty or Madden are often accused of charging way too much for something that’s essentially more of the same every year. Oddly enough though, despite these accusations, these franchises continue to see an increase in sales with each installment. As I said, we like to contradict ourselves.

Often accused of being no more than a glorified update with each entry, games like those of the Madden franchise leave us wondering if our hard-earned money was well spent

Often accused of being no more than a glorified update, games like those of the Madden franchise leave us wondering if our hard-earned money was well spent

So in the end, we can probably agree that forcing the developers to price games at what we want isn’t the best option. So what is? The simplest solution is usually the best one. This brings us back to whether or not price should be a factor for reviewing a game. It’s obvious that games being priced too high is a concern for some people, so it makes sense to at least mention it within the review if the situation calls for it. For example, in the case of Ground Zeroes, because of the short length. However, as mentioned before, the costs of development can vary from game to game, so the developers are obviously going to have to charge for a game what they feel will recoup the cost to make it. Because of this, it’s not always fair to mark down a games score because we aren’t always happy with the price. Plus, “value” is very relative and there isn’t any one method we can go about judging it, especially when games can be so wildly different from each other and offer so many different things.

Rest assured though, reviewers will be sure to let you know if a game’s content doesn’t live up to it’s price. After all, we’re all gamers in the end and we all know the feeling of disappointment or frustration when we feel we didn’t get what we paid for.

About The Author

Vanessa F

Vanessa is the Founder/CEO of Gamer Assault Weekly, LLC. She is an active member of the industry having worked with Warner Bros. Entertainment, Ubisoft, id Software, and CSA. She spends her time working on the site, attending as many gaming conventions as she can, and playing with friends on all systems.

  • Spencer

    When adjusted for inflation, games are actually cheaper than they’ve ever been. Ever. When you can get a game like Skyrim for $60, which would cost the equivalent of $200 back in the day, we are in a good place.

    The value you get out of an experience you pay for is entirely subjective and should NOT be factored into a review score, ever. The review is to judge the content of a game, the reader has to decide whether that content is worth the price to them or not.

  • Kamille

    some Snes and N64 were as expensive as $100 and for that time the value of $100 was way higher than it is now but the standard pricing was between $60-80. It wasn’t till Sony made CD’s standard with the PS1 that game prices were fixed to $50.

  • Jose Martinez

    To be 100% honest yes and no; $60 should run without any problems at all and shouldn’t be need for update on its release or within year unless their are adding extra things to the game like add-on’s. If you paid $60 for game that is running into problems like freezing up, hanging up system, and ect on other problems then that game wasn’t worth $60 because it has to many problems and lazy developers didn’t fix the problem and left it their either because their don’t give shit and want our hard earn money or Game Testers hire to find the problems didn’t give shit and wanted to make money from game company plus screw them over.

    If game doesn’t run right and has to many problems then it should be $10-20 for that game then base on how/what the game is first and ect. I’ll paid $60 for game that works without problems and if i think its worth that value for game. To bad 100% Honest again it would be awesome if all Games cost only $40 and no more.

    • Jose Martinez

      I know that; i was trying to give point. Only games i paid $60 are RPG i really like or when i see game worth the value that i want to play.

  • Prince Vegeta

    Nope, very few games manage to justify a $60 price tag.

    For $60 I would expect the game to have a ton of replay value, excellent controls, it should be able to run at 1080p 60fps and entertain me for at least 100 hours.

    A prime example of such a game would be Mario Kart 8.

    But a lot of other games don’t offer such a complete package and hence should retail at $40. Handled games should be capped at $20-$30.