Thursday, May 6, 2010

Are Games Giving Us Less Value?

A few weeks ago Bill Harris of Dubious Quality fame wrote about the Dead Rising 2: Case Zero prologue basically calling it a paid demo (it's apparently three hours long). He says based on this:

"Again, and I hate to harp on this, but it just seems to be the dominant theme day after day after day: big gaming companies are giving us less and less value."

He then goes on to complain about prices of games going from $50 to $60 and that this prologue might cost ... $5! And based on that he wasn't going to buy Dead Rising 2.

Obviously it is up to the individual to decide what they are going to buy but are we are getting less value? I will tackle some of the issues he brings up in his post one at a time. Starting with game pricing.

Game pricing is something I see brought up all the time. Games went up $10 they are ripping us off! Let's take a closer look at this. Games were traditionally priced at $50 since the beginning of time. They just recently went up to $60 for some consoles and the occasional PC title. In real terms the price of games was really going down over time since they never increased the price and everything else increased in price. It is rather surprising game prices haven’t increased or content gone down well before the past few years.

Game content. I am not sure what I think about paid demos but I am not sure a three hour piece of content (half the length of the new Splinter Cell game BTW) even qualifies. However, in every other industry we pay more and get less over time. Look at something as simple as say peanut butter. I can guarantee that the jar of peanut butter you are buying now looks the same size as 10 years ago but probably has a dent in the bottom or some other trick to give you less PB per jar while still charging you the same price. Add in the fact the costs for developing games has gone way up and it is not surprising they want to charge more/give us less per game.

Now to counter what I just wrote I am in the middle of Assassin’s Creed 2 (360 version, no dopey DRM for me), Dirt 2, Forza 3, the Saboteur, Dragon Age, Kings Bounty, and Grid. I like to complete things and each of those has so much stuff to do that I am almost stymied by the amount of content. So while some games may be five or six hours and not offer much more if you aren't interested in multiplayer there are still tons of new games out there with more content than you can shake a stick at.

I think the conclusion here is that while the gaming industry is a lot like other industries in that they will try to give you less for more there are still plenty of games that give you good value. The key, as always, is to be a smart consumer and don't buy games that don't offer good value. Also, for games with less value wait until they come down in price, rent them, or just skip them all together. The industry will get the message.

As for Dead Rising 2: Case Zero $5 for three hours of quality gameplay sounds pretty good to me.