Is $60 Too Much for a Game?

Posted on March 6, 2013 10:20 AM by Rob Williams

With rumors floating around of PlayStation 4 games costing $10 more than current-gen titles, and EA assuring us that all of its future games will have microtransactions built-in, just how much is too much for a game? The $60 price-point has been common for quite some time, but that was before the advent of DLC and other microtransactions. Today, that $60 game could turn into a $120 game – or worse.

Amidst all of the complaints about being nickel and dimed, there’s one person who believes that most people are just whiners. That person is Cliffy B, who wrote an editorial last week that describes his thoughts on things. In his mind, $60 is not a lot to spend on a game, and as for microtransactions, it’s more content, and that content requires $$$ to make. That might be understandable from a business perspective, but a consumer perspective, I’m not so sure.

SimCity 2013
EA’s SimCity

Consider, for example, all of the games that come out in a given month that are worth purchasing. At $60 a game, you could very well exhaust your monthly entertainment fund on two or three games. With such prices, many have deemed it reasonable to only purchase the games you have to have on day one, and for the rest – just wait a couple of months and snag it on sale.

I think about that last point often. Even more than movies, most games plummet in price fast. There are some exceptions, but it’s not uncommon to see a $50 game on sale at Steam or elsewhere for $33 a month later, $25 two months later and perhaps even $13 a month after that. A great question might be, who would buy games on day-one?

That question is of course meant to be more of a joke, because there are some games that are well-worth the full price, or even more. That brings us to another point. EA might release a game that many would consider mediocre at best, and then sell a ton of DLC for it. Meanwhile, a game like Borderlands 2 comes out that I’d consider to be worth twice what it costs (it really is that good).

Far Cry 3
Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3

One of Cliffy B’s arguments is that game development is more expensive than ever, but I have to ask – does it need to be? Of course, games with mega-graphics, like Crysis 3 (our review) or Tomb Raider are nice, but not all games need that level of detail. It’s been proven time and time again that graphics don’t make the game, and as long as they’re sufficient, people will play if the game is good. Look at Team Fortress 2 or the original DotA.

It’s clear that this post turned into a bit of a brain dump, and to properly discuss anything would require a 10-page editorial. So I’d love to hear what you guys think about the state of things. Is $60 too much for a game? Do you buy DLC? Are you opposed to microtransactions? Do you have any exceptions to your rules?

  • Kayden

    Just to get my bias out of the way, I think Cliffy B is an asshole. This goes back for quite a few years so when he says something like that, I think he has blinders on and looking at his bank account. That being said, no I do not think $60 is too much for a game, if it is the WHOLE game. I say that because DLC have provided a vehicle to omit certain features/stories from being included in the final release so they can later charge $3 to $20 for it, this wouldn’t be so bad if it was a onetime fee for ALL of those additions but it’s broken up in transactions that sometimes cost more than the original cost of the game. These things use to be called expansions, which had its own problem of content versus cost but, more times than not you felt like you got your money’s worth and I don’t feel that way with most DLC.

    Cliffy B’s statement is obviously from a developers point of view, like you said, and what I consider more appalling is that he isn’t alone in this. Sure games cost more to make, that’s a fact when you make grander and grander games however, these people running these companies expect (yes expect or demand) grander profits every year. Thus my question is, what is a reasonable amount of return? If a game costs $30 million to make, where does the profit line end after a game has been released and the rest is excess? The problem is that not all games are going to sell as well as another and if game X isn’t doing as well as game Y, then we see comments like this from companies or figure heads like Cliffy B.

    I personally believe it’s about greed, not just on the companies side but gamers too cause we are being nickeled and dimed with the ever expanding frontier of DLC in our games, the ads are everywhere in and out of our games. There are games that I consider worth the DLC such as Mass Effect 3 but, a game like Sniper Elite v2 isn’t worth it. The decision was simple for me, I didn’t completely like the game or grow overly attached to the chars to warrant furthering the story but, companies don’t see it that way. I say this because there have been times a game has sold a TON of DLC but then the company calls it a failure financially or changes its plans for future DLC. Take THQ for example with Saint’s Row 3, it did very well all the way around but the CEO cut DLC that was almost finished to put it in the next game. You can call me a pessimist if you like but I saw this another way a company could nickel and dime its customers. Granted they went under and etc but I’m not going into how a company operates at that level, I’m just pointing out that decision to make my point.

    I mentioned that there was greed on the gamers side and that is a true statement, mainly because we came to expect that when we paid for a game, all the content was there, that is what we’ve come to expect. Now we are being asked to pay for more of the pie because of greed from companies, especially when that content is cut out of a game just to earn more a few months later when the game is still fresh in player’s minds. I just ask where do we draw the line of what gamers have to pay, what constitutes success and failure in a corporations or owners eyes? Because the thing is, this is a free market where shareholders or owners expect more every time they release a game, even though it might have turned a reasonable profit say 20 to 40% of what it cost to make the game. Then when DLC comes they expect more from that, even if it is cut from the game and quickly released or honestly made after a game was released.

    I don’t disagree that an owner or public company shouldn’t make a profit, it’s just when I see comments like that from Cliffy B or EA about micro transactions. This makes me honestly believe they aren’t worried about quality over quantity instead it is about profit, with as little effort on their end to make it worth the price tag that is being asked for it. I just ask when is enough profit enough?!? There is no answer because it’s all about greed, just like with oil companies making billions in profit and we all feel like we’re being ripped off at the pump, that’s how most DLC is seen in my eyes. Then when I see people like Cliffy B or companies like EA make statements like that, I can’t help but wonder what is being said in their heads or behind closed doors and I worry it goes something like this “We can’t have too much profit, let’s do something to make more with little effort or cost.”

    No, I don’t think most games are worth $60 nor the price of each of DLC released. There are a few that are worth it but, because companies bases its failures on its competition or previous games. They will always try to make more by undercutting the customer, even if it’s only a loss of 1 or 10% between the current and last game they released.

    I know I went a little lengthy with my post but I just want to iterate these are my own opinions of what I’ve seen over the years both by gamers and companies actions alike.

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