By SonicFire 62 Comments
Let's face it, the economy is a mess right now. Like many people, I've found myself out of work, and at a minimum this means that I've had to be selective in deciding which games to play or buy at any given time. I've been able to take advantage of trade-credit, sales, and other promotions. However, being intensely selective has really made me question whether or not any game is worth $60, especially when it is likely to drop in price or go on sale eventually. Since losing my job, I've only purchased a couple titles: Halo Reach and Starcraft 2. In both cases, these represent AAA titles with strong campaigns and mutliplayer. But I've never been one to sit back and only play one game every now and again.
While this past summer didn't see much in the way of exciting retail titles, I can't say there haven't been some games I've wanted to play, but couldn't afford. To name a few off the top of my head: Crackdown 2, Singularity, and Dead Rising 2. Looking ahead in the next couple weeks, I'm sure I'll end up missing out on Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Fallout New Vegas, at least in the initial run. For all of these titles, it's not like I couldn't decide to spend the money for them (I still make some income as a musician and consultant), it's just that $60 now represents a lot of money, and more money than I'm willing to part with to "take a chance" on a particular game. So while I'd be willing to spend, say, $20 to play through Singularity, I'd never consider $60. In fact, the more I think about it, the more difficult it becomes to figure out any game worth the full price of admission.
Ultimately, I'll probably pick up Call of Duty...if only to play games with my friends (who only play Call of Duty). It's likely that I'll also grab Fable III, if only because I love RPGs, and good ones are increasingly rare (Bioware can only do so much at a time, and "good" JRPGs have become almost extinct). But beyond that, nothing seems to merit a $60 price tag for me.
I guess this leads to the larger question: what elements make a game worth $60? For me, it is probably a matter of quality, replayability, game length, etc. I can easily look at titles such as Mass Effect 2, Starcraft 2, or even Halo Reach and determine that they merit the cost. But for games, such as Enslaved, that may just be "good" but not great, I can't say that $60 seems fair. I suppose I've had a steady income for the last 7 years, so this is a bit new to me.
I'm not certain why the $60 price tag has become obligatory. Even this late in the current development cycle, lower prices at launch are rare. On that note, I can support the folks at Ignition, who released Deadly Premonition for $20, recognizing that nobody would buy it at full retail price (they certainly didn't in Japan). Given the increasing challenges in the economy, why aren't pricing structures adjusting to match reality? Think about it this way: games like G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, Terminator Salvation, and Rogue Warrior came out with a $60 price tag. It's ultimately a little mind boggling.