Previously on this blog, I’ve bemoaned the fact that most video game releases during the seventh generation fit into two categories: downloadable games that range from $10-$20 and everything with a physical release sold for $60 (or $50, in the case of Wii games). At this point in time, things have definitely gotten more diverse, with some low-profile disc-based games at $30 or $40 and even some more expensive physical re-releases of popular downloadable games, usually priced at $30. However, there have been some older releases that were definitely overpriced.
That’s pretty much the point of this article: looking back at games from last generation that were definitely overpriced at $50 or $60 and discussing just how much they should have cost on release. To determine better launch prices for the following games, I’m going to mainly be looking at the content of the game, the launch prices of similar games and their current MSRP, as well as some other factors. By taking this information into account, I hope to justify cheaper prices for the following games, at least from a logical standpoint. Who knows, maybe this information could trickle to some actual publishers and have some effect on the pricing of future games. I doubt it, but hey, a man can dream, right?
Shadows of the Damned/Lollipop Chainsaw/Killer is Dead – $40
Let me make something perfectly clear: I love Suda Goichi’s games. Ever since I rented the original No More Heroes on the Wii, I’ve followed the majority of Grasshopper Manufacture’s work, with a few exceptions. However, I’ve got to say: they’re just not $60 affairs. Most of these games are short and in many cases, they just don’t match up with the expectations of AAA games that typical associate with the $60 price point. Considering Killer is Dead was recently re-released on Steam for a whopping $20, it seems possible that Suda51’s next major release, Lily Bergamo on the PS4, could sell at a more reasonable price point.
Sonic Generations – $40
Again, I liked the console and PC versions of Sonic Generations. While I feel that Sonic Colors marked the end of Sonic’s Dark Age, Sonic Generations is one of the few games in the series released after the so-called “Genesis era” that was met with positive reception. Of course, that was mostly due to its reliance on nostalgia. That’s not really a bad thing, but it’s kind of a cheap trick. Regardless, as with the last entry (entries?), the main argument for releasing this at a cheaper price would be the length: despite all of the side missions, the main campaign is kind of short. Fortunately, the price dropped fairly quickly. Sonic Lost World launched at the same price Generations did: $50. It’s pretty likely Sonic Boom will launch at the same price on Wii U.
Street Fighter IV/Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds – $40
Do I honestly need to explain this one? The initial releases for these two fighters launched at $60 each. Meanwhile, every future release of the game released for $40 and came with more content than the original versions. More importantly, these games didn’t really have much in the way of extra content, especially compared to fighting games from other companies, especially Netherrealm’s recent games. Capcom shouldn’t really be able to justify selling a fighting game for $60 unless they pile on the extras in future games. Granted, fighting game development doesn’t come cheap, but releasing first-run games at full price with only a few game modes and then releasing an expansion at a much cheaper price point is not going to win the favor of most customers.
Nintendo Land – $30
Nintendo Land was generally considered an over-glorified tech demo at the time it was announced and it never really ditched that reputation. I honestly probably wouldn’t have ever picked it up if it hadn’t have been a pack-in title for the Deluxe Wii U package. It ended up being a fun game though, but it definitely wasn’t worth the $60 it launched at. Fortunately, these days it’s selling for a much more reasonable $30 as an individual title, which is far more reasonable. It seems like the major reason it was sold at $60 during the Wii U’s launch was due to the fact that it was a bundle game, so it was a way to perpetuate an artificially inflated value. Considering it dropped to $30 after it was dropped from the Deluxe Wii U bundles, I’d consider that confirmation of that theory.
Catherine – $40
There’s a recurring theme here: all of these games are ones I’ve owned in some form and enjoyed to some degree. Catherine is no exception, it was truly an awesome puzzle game with an intriguing story. Unfortunately, despite the multiplayer mode and multiple endings allowing for extensive replay value, the game itself just doesn’t really warrant such a hefty price tag. I guess the bonus items that came with first-run copies of the game justified the high price initially, but it’s still kind of a weak point. There should have been some bare-bones copies at $40 on day one.
Yearly Releases (Madden, Call of Duty, etc.) – $40
Yeah, this is really more of a category than a specific title. It’s pretty obvious though: yearly release titles just generally fit the same kind of expansion pack role that later incarnations of Capcom fighting games do, except in this case, each new game is full price, every time. Offering customers the ability to upgrade (like Capcom’s upgrades for Super Street Fighter 4) for a small fee would be better overall for games like Madden, but even just releasing the new games in the series at a budget price point would probably be a workable solution as well.
Re-Releases/Collections (MGS HD, The Orange Box, etc.) – $30/$40
Last entry on the list and it’s another category, so I’m using two price points for this one. Re-releasing old games at a full $60 price point is totally immoral, unless the game’s been totally rebuilt from the ground up. Simply porting old games to new platforms and optimizing them for higher-definition output isn’t really an excuse for charging full price, especially when the port is defective (looking at you, Konami).
In the end, I guess this whole article is meant to reiterate what I’ve been saying for a while now: $60 price points are still way too prevalent in the video game industry. Despite the fact that pricing is far more diverse at this point (at least with the previous gen systems), having a wider range of price points would allow for more diversity in game budgets. Not every game needs to be a AAA title and there’s definitely a market for games of all sizes. Many publishers are beginning to realize that, but there are still many in the dark. Last generation, poor budgeting killed several developers and publishers. Unless there are some major changes in the way the industry does business at large, I can see the same thing happening on a much grander scale this generation.