Priced Out of Fun

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.

FrostPunk The Last Autumn


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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  1. Whoa! Great perspective. I have never really thought about the financial aspect of video games from this Point of View. I have always based my decision to buy the game at launch or within 1-2 months of the launch solely on replayability and the length of the main campaign. Video games are fun. Usually I devote at least 20-25 hours of gameplay in the games I buy. I always compare video game entertainment to the movie Industry. Its easy to spend 20-30 U.S. dollars when watching a 2 hour movie at the cinema. Once the movie is over you are required to spend more money if you want to buy the DVD so you are able to watch it as many times as you want. Buying a video game usually provides 2+ hours of fun entertainment every single day you play. While buying a console is necessary to be able to play these games you aren’t buying a new console every time a new game hits the stores. Most families create a monthly budget that usually include an entertainment category. At my house gaming and watching movies are the 2 major forms of entertainment. While I don’t always buy a new game every month I plan as far in advance as possible to make sure the monthly expenses for entertainment stay in the same cost window for when game releases come. This is one of the main reasons I preorder video games from Gamestop. That’s the store I prefer to walk into to place $10-15

    • towards a video game every month prior to launch.

    • Yeah i agree that you should always try and make a budget to allow some sort of entertainment. Prices between US & UK vary a lot and over here we do pay a higher equivalent price to the US. Part of the problem is while you can try to budget for things there’s always something that happens to eat away at that money. I find that trading in older games or ones you complete is the best option. And then if you leave it a few months you can get the game you like at a comfortable price. Great feedback and thanks for reading!

      • No problem man. I completely understand about other things popping up. Trading video games in is a good thing. I try to wait until there is a very great trade in i can maximize the benefit. It sucks that the UK has to pay more for the same content as us U.S citizens. Incentive to move over here? Would be a lot easier to meet and if you lived close enough to me. My console would be available for you and your kids to try games before you bought them or just to play the games you may not be able to pick up at launch.

        • Suck indeed! I would move as we have factories over in the US and Canada but the family wouldn’t be so eager. Recently traded in 4 games i never played and got Fallout 3, Dragonage 2, Alan Wake and a guitar hero and came back with £1 change. Now thats more like it!

          • cool thats a deal. I have Dragon Age 2. I just haven’t played it yet. I must remedy this.

          • Family comes first buddy. A happy wife equals a happy life.

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