Priced Out of Fun

Jun 7, 2014

Video gaming is something that can be enjoyed by men, women and children of every age. And it should! Be it a 9-year-old on Kinectimals looking after her tiger or a 30-something walking around the streets of 16th century Rome pretending to be an assassin, gaming captures the imagination and gives people a break from reality. But at what cost?

Often my children and myself have picked up a game from our local shop and said “I really want this, it looks great!” Only to put it back on the shelf. And why? Because of the price!

"We're from Rockstar Games and we're here to take you money!"

“We’re from Rockstar Games and we’re here to take you money!”

I don’t know many 9-year-olds who can afford £30-40 (which is $50-67) for a new release. I would struggle to find that much spare that I could justify spending on a video game (as much as I enjoy living in the shoes of Ezio Auditore).

So why are video games so expensive when they’re first released into the market? In the last 15 years the cost of developing an average game has gone from £590k-2.5m ($1-4m) to well in excess of £12m ($20m). In the case of Rockstars GTA V, the overall cost of completions was £170m ($265m), which is more than some film productions (Disney spent $275m on John Carter) . Add to this that the studios have a staff that could be around 100 people, from producers and designers, to artists and testers then maybe it might explain the high costs.

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But, in saying that how much money does the game make? Take GTA V for example, which broke records when it came out.

  • Highest revenue by an entertainment product in 24 hours (£511m/$815m)
  • 11.21m copies sold in 24 hours
  • Fastest entertainment product to $1 billion (£624m). 3 days!

Now you don’t need to be a genius to work out that this game made a massive profit which makes me wonder, why it couldn’t have been cheaper to start. Could it just be plain greed from the studios?

So yes, while the modern game has the budget and staff to rival a small movie. Staff need their wages and bills must be paid, while still making a profit to carry on with the next project. But for the average Joe, like myself, with bills to pay and a family to look after, the cost is too high.

Like so many others I will wait till other people have played their copies, traded them in and moved onto the next new release, then pick it up pre-owned for less than half of the R.R.P (MSRP). OK, so I may end up a little behind in the gaming universe, but I will still pay my bills, and get the hours of enjoyment from the game.

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So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to play catch-up with an assassin whilst my kids pet a tiger. Where else can you say that but as a gamer!?

 

— Wayne Hughes

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