The Price You Pay and Gone Home

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Posted by Artie (690 posts) -

I purchased, played and finished Gone Home. There’s a lot of interesting things to talk about with that game, but it doesn't matter. When I finished that game I wasn't thinking about the story, the design or all the ways that developers could learn from the game. Instead I was overwhelmed with one thought: I can’t believe I paid $20 dollars for this. That is to say that Gone Home is the biggest rip off in terms of the price to value ratio that I can remember. I would mention this game along with other dubious examples such as Oblivion’s Horse Armor.

There’s always a persistent back and forth on how important a price is to a game’s value. There’s never a definitive answer on the topic but I’m mentioning it now because this is the first time that I can remember where the price of a game was so absurd. I have to stress that the reason why I’m so upset about this particular game and its price is because it disables me from talking about the game itself. I would like to talk about the environmental story telling. I would like to talk about how the game is a good example of how stories can have a small focus but a huge impact. I would like to talk about how, when done well, a story can keep a player interested just as well as any mechanic.

But I can and I’m not going to talk about those things because when I finished the game my only thought was anger from paying so much for so little. Now when people ask me “How is Gone Home? Should I play it?” The answer is “No, it’s overpriced.” That’s all I can say.

On the surface it would seem that saying Gone Home is overpriced implies that all games of small scope are overpriced. In the few times I've brought this up I’m immediately attacked with an assault of other examples of similar price and time spent. The most common of these is the comparison to a $20 dollar DVD. This is ignoring the fact that DVDs don’t cost $20 dollars anymore. This comparison doesn't hold up for a few reasons starting with why you’re buying the product in the first place. In the case of a DVD, I have never heard of anyone buying a DVD on a whim. It’s always with the intent of holding on to something that you already like so you have the luxury to view it whenever you want. A $20 dollar DVD has the confirmation that you already like what you are buying. If you were unsure that you’d like it, you’d sooner wait for it on TV, borrow it, rent it or maybe see it in the theaters. There’s a bunch of different variables but the point is it’s a stupid comparison because you’re not buying a DVD to watch it once and never again.

And before anyone brings up the fact that IMAX 3D movie tickets cost $21 dollars… those are also overpriced and I wouldn’t pay for that either.

It would make sense to compare Gone Home to other games of similar value or price. In both variables Gone Home isn’t winning any arguments. In terms of value I can easily compare Gone Home to something like Dear Esther or The Stanley Parable. What’s interesting about these two examples is that they were at one point, both free. They were mods to existing engines. This may be a chicken before the egg type of deal but it may be that since those previous games were free and Gone Home is comparable to those types of games, there’s a psychological link that this type of experience should not cost much. That being said, I’m sure if the creators of those mods had the option to charge they would have. This is mostly shown by the fact that you can buy Dear Esther now, although I should note that it costs $10 dollars which is 50% cheaper than Gone Home.

In terms of price comparison, it shares some steep company. Gone Home may have merits in its design, but a lot of the psychology behind value is identifying where your money is going. In Gone Home, there are two voice actors, some original music, some licensed music, the environment of the house itself, the objects inside the house and of course the writing and programming. These obviously took time to create or money to hire a voice actor, but the perceived cost is very low, especially when similar games in cost have ten times the amount of production value or assets. Take a moment to recognize that games like Journey, Bastion, The Swapper, Hotline Miami and Papers, Please all cost less than Gone Home, but seemingly have far more to show for it. Those games all had teams of five people or less and some of them had licensed music, original soundtracks, eight different environments or just the same two or three screens. In those games it’s easy to recognize where the costs are going and what you’re paying for.

When something is overpriced and a customer feels that their purchase was overpriced, it’s the feeling of being taken advantage of. There’s no “well that’s too bad but...” because the entire relationship with the purchased good is now soured. I don’t think “they screwed up with the price and that’s unfortunate,” instead I think “they chose to squeeze as much out of me as they think I would stand.” I don’t feel as if I’ve connected with a developer’s vision, I feel taken advantage of for being interested in their game.

And what’s even worse is by bringing up this issue, you’re immediately ostracized as “the guy who hates the game because he doesn’t have $20 dollars.” I understand that a lot of people like this game and they want to share what they like with the rest of the gaming world, but I find these blanket excusals insulting. Just because the game is good we’re going to ignore a potential issue? In fact we’re going to publicly demean and discredit those who may think the discussion of price versus value is worth having? That turns my disappointment in the price into resentment of other gamers.

If you still want to know what I think about the game itself, maybe we’ll talk about that some other time. For now, at $20 dollars, all I can say is it’s not worth it.

#1 Edited by masternater27 (918 posts) -

Dude, what? Why did you spend $20 on a game you weren't interested in then? There's plenty of information out about what it is. If you never want to be disappointed in the value proposition of a game then wait til everything is on a steam sale or in a humble bundle before you buy it. For you it was a bad value proposition, for most people it seems to be a great value proposition. That's fine. If you have criticisms then talk about it. Don't bitch and moan on the internet because you spent money that in hindsight was unwise for you. Especially when it's a game that released at 33% the price of a regular retail game. You don't want to hear me complain about the $2.99 I wasted on a smothered burrito from taco bell and nobody cares to hear you bitch and moan about this.

#2 Posted by AlKusanagi (917 posts) -

I tend to agree. I think it would have been perfect at a seven to ten dollar price point, but twenty is pretty overpriced. I don't even consider it a "game," more than an "interactive story experience." And being that it's roughly two hours to tell the story, I don't think it should have been any more than the cost of the movie.

#3 Posted by rebgav (1429 posts) -

For $20 you could get all of the A Song of Ice and Fire series to date in paperback.

So, how's the storytelling in Gone Home?

#4 Posted by Humanity (9054 posts) -

I agree and it's the man reason I didn't buy it. After the QuickLook I was ready to go ahead and dive into this experience but when they mentioned the price it instantly put the brakes on that. Much like you I completely forgot about all merits and novelty and could only concentrate on the one aspect of "wow that seems a but much for this."

This all brings me to the conversation of review scores. I made a comment on Patricks review to which he responded, although not directly to what I meant, about how its strange to ostracize action titles for having too much action but at the same time champion a polar opposite where there's barely a game present. I always struggle in distinguishing whether a particular review is the authors pure opinion of the game in a sort of vacuum devoid of factors such as length and price - or if its meant to judge a product with the consumer in mind where all aspects come to play not just the end experience. I feel like Patrick and Jeff represent the former and latter respectively.

#5 Edited by TruthTellah (8783 posts) -

I'm intrigued by the fact that this is basically just the rather common and understandable sentiment of "I feel like something I paid for was not worth what I paid" followed by a torrent of qualifying why saying that is okay.

So, this is far less about Gone Home and more about the entire concept of consumers possibly feeling like they received too little for what they paid. For some, a fancy dinner might appear to be a ripoff, as they might just see the tiny portions and lament that they could have easily purchased a much bigger dinner for a similar price, and for others, that minimal dinner with its unique experience was well worth the price due to its memorable impact in comparison to meatier but more forgettable fare.

I think both possible ways of seeing something like this are reasonable responses, and I'm just sorry that you might have felt unsatisfied with your purchase of this particular game.

#6 Edited by eskimo (476 posts) -

Quality over quantity. I bought a glass of wine last night that cost more than this game, and it wasnt even that expensive.

#7 Edited by TruthTellah (8783 posts) -

@eskimo said:

Quality over quantity. I bought a glass of wine last night that cost more than this game, and it wasnt even that expensive.

Oh yeah? What did you have?

#8 Edited by lightsoda (540 posts) -

Bought it and played maybe an hour before work, and so far I haven't thought about it as a rip off, can't wait to get back to it after work.

#9 Edited by Rick_Fingers (524 posts) -

I would gladly pay $20 for something like Gone Home over $60+ for something like Call of Duty.

It up to the individual to make value judgments, of course, but I find it sad when all people consider is dollars to time.

#10 Posted by Quid_Pro_Bono (257 posts) -

Come on, it's obvious the Fullbright team put a lot of time and love into this game, and it's a lovely story and experience. Yeah, it's not especially long, but why is that even necessary? It was the perfect length - no reason to pad the game out with meaningless fluff. It tells its story, it's a damn good story, and they're a small indie team.

I understand that you're upset because you feel you paid too much for this game, but saying "nothing else about it matters" because of the cost to time ratio seems so sad to me. It was such a refreshing story, but you'll never actually ruminate on it because you're fuming about how long the game was.

To put it into terms that may make more sense - I've read both To Kill a Mockingbird and the seventh Harry Potter book - both cost similar amounts in paperback but the Harry Potter book was much longer. I still thought Mockingbird was a better story - I don't feel that it should have been cheaper. (I realize this isn't a perfect analogy but it's a strange problem we're facing these days with games)

#11 Edited by eskimo (476 posts) -

@truthtellah: 2009 Castano Coleccion Monastrell for $18. Thats not hugely expensive for a decent glass of wine in a decent restaurant in Oz. Good stuff it was too :)

#12 Posted by TruthTellah (8783 posts) -

@eskimo: Yeah, that's not an awful price for a restaurant glass of that quality. Not my favorite kind, but I can understand why some might like it. Glad you enjoyed it! :)

#13 Posted by planetfunksquad (416 posts) -

I once paid £50 for a 7" record with one song on it. Value is subjective.

My advice would be, don't buy stuff unless it's on sale. Your perception of value is obviously tied to how many minutes of gameplay you can get out of a game, and if that's your bag, then change your buying habits. It isn't the games fault.

#14 Edited by primalmaster (87 posts) -

While I agree the price is on the high side, I do think it was worth it. Also with this being the first game they've made I'm willing to support them by paying a little extra, and hope that their next game is longer.

#15 Posted by Pie (7079 posts) -

The shit people (including me) buy for $15 on xbox live say? I feel like PC people expect things to cost way too little money.

The amount of work put into this and the enjoyment I got out of it? Well worth £13.49

#16 Posted by JasonR86 (9657 posts) -

I understand that a lot of work went into the game but $20 is still $20 to the consumer. It needs to feel justified. I don't think it did. I could see $15. $10 would be perfect. But over $15 feels like crossing a line. I mean I personally would think $15 would be too much to ask but I would understand that better than $20. It feels like they are hurting themselves with that price.

#17 Edited by geirr (2530 posts) -

I feel this game enriched me in ways no other game has, and 20usd is not a bad price for a 3 hour experience that makes such a wonderful impact. It's also super easy for me to see how some people won't see the value in this game at all and I know who I'd recommend this game to, and who I wouldn't recommend it to.

#18 Posted by Rolyatkcinmai (2686 posts) -

You're wrong, and I would happily pay $60 for Gone Home if that's what they were asking.

Length of a game/number of assets has no correlation to monetary cost for me.

Gone Home is an incredible experience and completely unique. It's worth $20 without question.

#19 Edited by tsiro (214 posts) -

I'm sorry that the only metric for value that you place on games is the amount of time that you spent playing it once.

#20 Posted by jettpack (109 posts) -

I agree with @masternater27.

and for myself it was well worth it. Maybe it wasnt worth the money for you but man that was the best 20 bucks Ive spent in years.

#21 Posted by Nekroskop (2786 posts) -

They took way too much for the game.(It's 17.09 € here) Not even Journey was that expensive and that game was longer and had a lasting impact.

Still a good game though.

#22 Posted by JasonR86 (9657 posts) -

@rolyatkcinmai:

It's a little harsh to straight up tell the dude he's wrong for thinking the way he does.

#23 Posted by Chaser324 (6427 posts) -

If you're on an extremely limited budget, I could maybe understand the argument, but personally I found it to be money well spent.

I just finished writing possibly the most gushy Steam recommendation ever, so I'm a bit tapped out on ways to say how unique and amazing this game is, but to sum it up, this game is great and people should play it.

Moderator Online
#24 Posted by MikkaQ (10283 posts) -

Your argument fell apart when you brought up the DVDs. Blu-Rays are still 20 bucks and I do buy them on a whim, that's part of the fun. If the movie comes recommended, then it's fine. It's not really a lot of money, especially these days. 20 bucks used to feel like a lot, but that was 15 years ago.

#25 Posted by rebgav (1429 posts) -

How does the value of Gone Home compare to something like Analogue: A Hate Story? I put about 8 hours into that game over two playthroughs, it's primarily (reading) text with a couple of minor text-based puzzles, a branching story path, and multiple endings. It sells for about $10. Would anyone who has played both games consider them comparable in terms of quality/quantity?

#26 Posted by MrJorOwe (282 posts) -

Was looking to pick up this, but £13.50 is a lot for a game on steam. I'm not sure if I've paid more than that for a game, on steam of course, since SR3 on release day. That's why it seems very expensive to people. I know my experience of a seemingly great game would be soured by that, so I'll wait till it's on sale.

#27 Edited by JasonR86 (9657 posts) -

@rebgav:

I think it compares better to Dear Esther which retailed at $10 USD. The thing is everyone has their own breaking point for prices and games. I think comparing these games to other mediums is nuts because they are different experiences. So, again, I'll compare Gone Home to a game I feel is most like it; Dear Esther.

GH has a better presentation and a more nuanced narrative with multiple stories under the main story. Also, the gameplay is a bit, emphasis on 'bit', more interactive and varied. DE retailed for $10 USD. I think at $10 USD GH is a must buy. $15 USD is totally reasonable. $20 USD is a stretch.

#28 Posted by Tearhead (2161 posts) -

Yeah, this game looks interesting, but I personally think $20 is too much for what that game appears to be. I thought the same thing about To the Moon which was $12 at release. I picked up To the Moon last year during a steam sale and thought the story was good, but not worth $12 in my opinion.

I'll pick up Gone Home during a sale of 50% off or more.

#29 Posted by The_Nubster (2096 posts) -

It's crazy that being are lambasting you for thinking that the value proposition isn't quite right.

#30 Posted by AlisterCat (5532 posts) -

I paid £11, just finished it in just over 2 hours. One sitting. I do not regret my purchase at all. I do not feel I overpaid.

I can get different experiences for less or for more, but I can't play this game elsewhere. It's not like a different brand of lemonade, and you went with the more expensive one and it didn't taste any better. I can't pay a different price to get this same experience, barring a sale. I got the experience I wanted out of it, and the one I expected.

The price is competitive enough. It's a shame that $5 or $10 can ruin an experience. I'm just not in that mindset.

#32 Edited by rebgav (1429 posts) -

@jasonr86: Hmm. Seems like a winter sale candidate then. Hate Plus is supposed to be out soon and that will probably be more to my taste, I'd guess.

Completely tangential aside; I am pretty sure that I am not ready for '90s nostalgia. Mawkish sentimentality is a real bummer.

#33 Edited by rebgav (1429 posts) -

Edit: I didn't even hit the post button twice. I bet this was the signal for the robot revolution to begin in earnest.

#34 Edited by masternater27 (918 posts) -

@the_nubster: the issue is he only says the value proposition isn't right, he gives no criticism otherwise. And then says generally that the value prop is wrong on every other entertainment category as well. There's no discussion to be had from that

#35 Posted by JasonR86 (9657 posts) -

@rebgav:

Yeah. The references were a bit obvious and a bit much.

#36 Edited by Artie (690 posts) -

@masternater27 "There's plenty information out about what it is." Actually the repeated line I saw about Gone Home was people worried that explaining it too much would ruin the experience. The game was recommended by Patrick Klepek and Anthony Burch (two people whose opinion I value) so I took the plunge without reading any further than the high praise and who it was coming from.

I should mention that I did enjoy the game. I probably enjoyed as much as anyone else did (although I think Anthony was being REALLY hyperbolic to the game's detriment). The issue isn't that I didn't like the game, it's that I didn't feel it was worth the price of entry. So much so that it overwhelmed my thoughts of the game. There have been times where I felt I overpaid for something but this is the first time I can remember where it bothered me so much that it negatively affected my experience. Thanks for calling me a bitch though.

@Humanity Your point about Action games and their opposite is actually very interesting. I had never thought of that before. I feel a lot of the review industry tries to justify the existence of games like Gone Home so they'll go out of there way to defend it instead of addressing concerns like the one you brought up.

@TruthTellah You're likely the most mature response in this thread.

Most other people ITT: People claiming I said that Gone Home should've been 100 hours long because the only thing I value is length of the game.

I don't even specifically point out how long I played it, I just said the value of the game was not matching with the price. I compared it to other games that are of equal length (Death Esther, Journey) and said those games have better values because they're cheaper and it's a lot easier to see what the price is going toward (like varied environments, more original music and etc.)

#37 Posted by Sergio (2080 posts) -

I can understand what he means.

I like steaks. I can go out to a steak dinner and enjoy the meal. Could be one of the best steaks I had. There is a price point where I would consider I overpaid for that steak even if I enjoyed it.

#38 Edited by ArbitraryWater (11626 posts) -

Maybe it's because of the "Maximize my dollar" mentality I had as a teenager and still have as a college student, but I do think that price is something to factor in when talking about a game. Maybe once I graduate school and have a career where I earn actual money I'll think differently, but it still takes a lot for me to buy new games at full price.

That's not to say that Gone Home isn't some sort of revelatory experience that will make me cry (but guessing what I know about myself and my tastes in self-indulgent indie games that try to say something "meaningful" about the human condition, probably not), but in the raw dollar/hour ratio it cannot win, so I can see where he's coming from.

#39 Posted by masternater27 (918 posts) -

@artie: for the record I said you were bitching, not that you're a bitch. You're just not offering anything to converse about. Why was this $20 game the worst value proposition you've ever experienced even though you really enjoyed the game? Doesn't compute for me.

#40 Posted by BisonHero (6442 posts) -

@jasonr86 said:

@rebgav:

I think it compares better to Dear Esther which retailed at $10 USD. The thing is everyone has their own breaking point for prices and games. I think comparing these games to other mediums is nuts because they are different experiences. So, again, I'll compare Gone Home to a game I feel is most like it; Dear Esther.

GH has a better presentation and a more nuanced narrative with multiple stories under the main story. Also, the gameplay is a bit, emphasis on 'bit', more interactive and varied. DE retailed for $10 USD. I think at $10 USD GH is a must buy. $15 USD is totally reasonable. $20 USD is a stretch.

Yeah, Dear Esther is a totally valid comparison. They're both basically non-games that are just about writing and atmosphere and exploration. I can certainly understand Gone Home containing more work than Dear Esther, so I think $15 instead of $10 would've been reasonable. It's a $10 game in terms of longevity and concept (I put Dear Esther, The Path, To The Moon, Gone Home all in that category), but I can go +/- $5 depending on the quality of the experience.

Similarly, "interesting puzzle game" seems like it should cost about $15. Fez was a steal at $10. Q.U.B.E. is $10 on Steam, which seems fair because it's pretty light on production values. Antichamber is $20, but it's puzzles are super good and clever and I really like the whole look of it and the tone of the writing.

So yeah, I think they've made a mistake with the price.

#41 Posted by project343 (2817 posts) -

The dollar value vs. hours of entertainment metric just makes it seem like you're trying to use entertainment to distract yourself from the monotony of your own life.

#42 Posted by BisonHero (6442 posts) -

@project343 said:

The dollar value vs. hours of entertainment metric just makes it seem like you're trying to use entertainment to distract yourself from the monotony of your own life.

It's more that I don't think that the like 6 people or whatever that made Gone Home need to recoup some kind of astronomical budget that is much bigger than any other $10 or $15 indie art/puzzle/exploration game. Maybe I'm wrong!

I don't know, I'm fine with Antichamber being $20, because it's got some really rad puzzles and is really original, and also I found out that the game went through so many revisions that it's been in development for years and years.

#43 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1565 posts) -

Don't read this as taking either side, but not everyone -- especially outside of (to use a quick economic shorthand) the G8 -- has enough buying power and/or disposable income to drop $20, letalone $60, on a 2-3 hour game. I'm sure you guys don't mean it this way, but don't assume everyone is anywhere near as wealthy as you are. Not to make this about me, but I remember being a poor lower-middle-class teenager working and saving for university, and I wouldn't have wanted to spend $20 on this game.

Yes, there are people who have the money and are just being irrationally cheap, but there's also a lot of people out there who legitimately don't have the money to justify buying such a bad-value-proposition game. We kid about the "dollars per hour" value calculations, but they are a thing a lot of people have to consider.

Take a moment to recognize that games like Journey, Bastion, The Swapper, Hotline Miami and Papers, Please all cost less than Gone Home, but seemingly have far more to show for it. Those games all had teams of five people or less and some of them had licensed music, original soundtracks, eight different environments or just the same two or three screens. In those games it’s easy to recognize where the costs are going and what you’re paying for.

For what it's worth, there are 19 people credited as working on Journey, and that's not including the Sony and SCE Santa Monica support and publishing staff. Again, not making a point about value here, I just remember being surprised when I first learned this.

#44 Edited by Irvandus (2877 posts) -

I just wanted to say that Gone Home is amazing. It creates a perfect atmosphere and manages to tell so many amazing stories in such a short amount of time with an excellent pace. I'm glad it's not longer because everything rolled out in such a natural way.

#45 Posted by bgdiner (275 posts) -

I suppose this really just boils down to the idea of perceived value, as you mentioned. People are wrong to criticize you for feeling that you overpaid, especially since many of them are presumably operating under confirmation bias. They're naturally going to defend their purchase against criticism, even though you did laud the game for what it was. I didn't buy the game, so I can somewhat relate to your feelings.

However, I do feel as though some points you made vis a vis the game's pricing are a little skewed. First off, some of the games you offer up as comparison aren't really in the same category as Gone Home. I get that Papers, Please and Hotline: Miami are indie games that operated on a constrained budget, but that shouldn't reflect on those games' pricing. Small-budget movies that make it into the multiplex theatres have the same ticket prices as big-budget action flicks like The Avengers. Both movies are presenting different audiences with different themes. I wonder if Hotline: Miami had been priced at $20 whether your reaction would have been different.

What I'm trying to say is that the game's budget and objective shouldn't matter. If the game had faulty mechanics (which I'm under the impression that it doesn't), I wouldn't blame you for criticizing the game's pricing. However, when you start comparing games' team size, budget and perceived audience, you start to detract from the true worth of the game, which is, most of the time, the game's story and atmosphere. But that's just my two cents.

#46 Edited by BisonHero (6442 posts) -

@bgdiner: I see what you're going for, but I don't see the point of the movie theater comparison. Yes, ticket prices are equal for a variety of movies, but the same is not true in games. Especially as of late, game prices tend to be scaled based on their initial budget. Even if a game isn't riddled with bugs or poor game design, I think it's fair for people to say "This game was basically fine but is roughly the same type of game in terms of overall worth that would usually cost $15".

Many $60 games had budgets of tens of millions of dollars that they have to recoup. $15 games made by medium-sized dev teams (over 15 people, let's say?) like Journey or Costume Quest or whatever seem to get along just fine. Gone Home has an even smaller dev team, and while I know it took them a few years to make the game, it still kinda seems like they're just charging $5 more than the current market standard, because, hey, why not, the small crowd of people into arty non-games who follow indie game buzz and are likely to buy it at launch will buy it at full price whether it's $15 or $20.

#47 Posted by Hunter5024 (5615 posts) -

I agree that it's totally overpriced. There are way worse value propositions out there though. To get 2 hours worth of comic books you have to spend about $32 depending on how fast you read.

#48 Posted by rccola (12 posts) -

I don't think it's overpriced at all. I've paid more for less, and I hope Fullbright make money off Gone Home, because I'd like them to be able to continue making games like this.

That said, I live in Australia, where apparently a pint of cider costs $10 in some bars.

#49 Edited by Gregalor (57 posts) -

@rebgav said:

For $20 you could get all of the A Song of Ice and Fire series to date in paperback.

So, how's the storytelling in Gone Home?

Yeah, well, for $40 you could get that AND Gone Home. Do we really need to compare the value of everything?

#50 Posted by rebgav (1429 posts) -

@gregalor said:

@rebgav said:

For $20 you could get all of the A Song of Ice and Fire series to date in paperback.

So, how's the storytelling in Gone Home?

Yeah, well, for $40 you could get that AND Gone Home. Do we really need to compare the value of everything?

It's a thread questioning the price of the game and the value on offer.

Motherfucking facepalm emote.

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