How come the cost of purchasing video games hasn't risen with the increase of development and inflation?

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#1 Posted by TuxedoCruise (248 posts) -

I remember paying $50-$60 USD for PS1 games, and $60 for PS2 games. I'm still paying those prices today. I rarely buy DLC packs for games, because even with the rise of season passes and microtransactions, the base $60 games that I buy very rarely feel incomplete.

The price of other entertainment mediums have risen over the years, how come the price of video games have mostly remained the same?

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#2 Posted by Vortextk (944 posts) -

Because it's hard to justify a $100 cost for a video game for consumers, but it's easy to sell it for $60 and then nickel and dime people for DLC, microtransactions and special editions.

And to the point of $60 bucks, the amount of games at that prices has fallen off a cliff and even the ones that are there get heavily discounted soon after; crazy discounts on pc but some on console for sure. I feel like so many games today just want to get you playing them so you're in their ecosystem for other purchases and news.

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#3 Posted by Ares42 (4362 posts) -

Because video games have always been overpriced. If you look at how immensely successful f2p and steam sales have been it's fairly obvious that while it's possible to sell games at $60 and make a profit there was a massive untapped market for lower priced games for a very long time. Even today the $60 price tag is a sore point for people who are just casually dabbling with video games. The more interesting question is really why were games priced at $60 back in the day, and why did it take 20ish years before the industry started to realize it was overcharging that badly.

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#4 Posted by The_Greg (543 posts) -

10 years ago, new games were £30 at play.com. Now they're £50.

However, I remember my uncle showing me his SNES game collection and some of those games had £80 stickers on them. I couldn't believe it, especially when taking inflation into consideration.

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#5 Edited by liquiddragon (3460 posts) -

I think a lot of ppl do feel $60 games are incomplete, especially compared to the PS2 days, so that point is debatable. Also, it's not like ppl are making that much more money these days so consumers don't have that much more buying power. Another aspect may be that way more ppl play games these days. The market has grown and the consumer base with it. GTA5 having sold 100 million copies is still mind-boggling to me but it's a fact.

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#6 Posted by Brackstone (925 posts) -

It has, in Canada at least. New games used to cost around $60, now they're usually $80. God forbid you want a Nintendo game on sale, they'll be $80 until hell freezes over.

I'd imagine it's largely due to optics. People are so used to $60 dollar games that publishers are unwilling to change that as the base level. People can be really, really fickle. When Superhot was coming out, lots of people were complaining that it (along with some other new indie games) cost $30. In their mind, indie games are $15 or less, period, and if folks thought that about indie games, they sure as hell feel the same about AAA games. AAA devs make up for it with overpriced special editions, microtransactions and season passes.

The other thing is that gaming is much, much bigger now. The audience grew as the costs did, so they don't necessarily need to increase the price if they are also selling more. But I don't think that will last forever. If costs keep increasing, soon enough the sales numbers required by these games just aren't going to be realistic (Tomb Raider is an example), and then a price increase might actually happen.

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#7 Posted by BigSocrates (1966 posts) -

@ares42 said:

The more interesting question is really why were games priced at $60 back in the day, and why did it take 20ish years before the industry started to realize it was overcharging that badly.

The answer to this is that games weren't necessarily priced at $60 back in the day. Some were more, and the reason was cartridges. Cartridges were expensive to produce so games couldn't be sold cheaply and the biggest games (in terms of memory) cost more than $60 because of the cartridge costs. The CD format changed this quickly, and some games came down in price upon its release, but people were used to paying $60 at that point and anything released at a lower price was perceived as 'bargain' and lesser quality (The NFL 2K series experimented with a $20 release one year, and even though it was better than Madden it was not a successful experiment.) So games kind of got locked in at $60 at first release, and people got used to it, and anyone who deviates in either direction will be perceived as either overcharging or selling an inferior product (Sonic Forces released at $40 and was perceived as an inferior game, though that's also because it wasn't great).

Then there are all kinds of retailers and other parties used to $60, and the console manufacturers want to maintain consistency, and nobody wants to initiate a race to the bottom, etc...

The point is that it got locked in because of costs that are no longer in place, but there's not a lot of incentive to change and there is a fair amount of incentive to keep things as they are. But publishers have effectively raised the price of some games through DLC and cosmetics, even if not everyone buys them. Fighting games definitely cost more than they used to because of those changes, at least if you want the full game.

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#8 Posted by AlKusanagi (1650 posts) -

I remember back in the day when cartridges could vary greatly in price depending on the chips. Final Fantasy 3 US and Phantasy Star 4 were over $100 at the time.

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#9 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1373 posts) -

It was an interesting question that I wondered myself, and one that has led to people who write about games for a living telling people that games should actually cost more. That's always amusing.

I say that it WAS an interesting question, because there was a time when the question required no additional context. That time is long gone now, a full decade in the past. Season passes, DLC, microtransactions, all of these things have combined to render the question largely irrelevant these days. I do agree that most single player games are complete at $60, in the sense that you get the whole story (although I do sometimes go for collector's editions on games I think I'll really like). But even if we can say that most of the additional stuff added on to $60 games is irrelevant, that stuff IS a huge part of the business now, and it's a consideration for both consumers and developers.

How much are paperback novels these days? I remember those being like $7.99 when I was a kid. I think they're about the same now?

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#10 Posted by Nodima (2620 posts) -

I have to imagine with how much the market has expanded in just the past decade that a lot of games could afford to cost less than $60, honestly, but $60 also just sounds like what a video game should cost to me even though I grew up paying anywhere from $30 to $80 for a game depending on format, publisher, etc. Sale culture is such a thing now compared to the old days, though, that I feel like publishers are acknowledging, subtly, how much more money there is out there in video games by dropping pricing on digital goods so frequently.

(The NFL 2K series experimented with a $20 release one year, and even though it was better than Madden it was not a successful experiment.)

I don't want to be a "well, actually..." guy, but this is a misrepresentation of what happened there. EA dropped the price of Madden 2005 to $29.95 to compete with Sega's $19.99 price point due to how severely the combination of pricing and the ESPN license bit into Madden's sales figures. Sega's aggressive pricing and quality gameplay scared EA so much that this was the year they arranged for the exclusive rights to the NFL for 10+ years and kicked everyone else out of the licensed football market. As pricing gimmicks go, ESPN NFL 2K5 was only an unsuccessful experiment because it forced a shift in the market so severe that the series no longer existed because it was too good.

(For what it's worth, I preferred Madden that year, but 2K was a damn good football series.)

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#11 Posted by ConfusedOwl (1215 posts) -

As a Canadian if game prices go up in the US I'd be priced out of the hobby entirely. Canadians are already paying $90 after tax for new games.

Even if game prices did go up I doubt that DLC's and microtransactions would go away which I feel a lot of people fail to realize.

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#12 Posted by BoOzak (2617 posts) -

@the_greg said:

10 years ago, new games were £30 at play.com. Now they're £50.

However, I remember my uncle showing me his SNES game collection and some of those games had £80 stickers on them. I couldn't believe it, especially when taking inflation into consideration.

Does play.com even exist anymore? I seached for it and was redirected to a site recommending other sites which were selling new games (or games that havent even come out yet like Kingdom Hearts 3 and Resident Evil 2) for under £40. Switch games are more expensive to produce though so they do cost slightly more.

Ultimately though the price of games seems to vary more than before. Unless you're going to GAME (or Gamestop I guess is the US eqivalent) in which case you'll always pay full price for as long as they can get away with it.

To be honest i'm just glad you can still buy physical games. Even if they are just discs that force 50gb downloads on you.

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#13 Posted by sebconn (15 posts) -

Another thing that might affect it is manufacturing costs? Cartridges, big box games, etc. Now you buy a game from a store and it's a jewel case with a download code.

I remember paying 97 Australian dollars for Quake 3 Arena for the Mac in 1999. I totally got my money's worth with that game but god damn that's expensive. $161.32 in today's money.

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#14 Posted by Oscar__Explosion (2980 posts) -

I remember MSRP for games was $50 during the GC/PS2/Xbox days.

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#15 Posted by xanadu (2046 posts) -

I think it's a combo of more people buying games and those damn microtransactions.

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#16 Posted by deckard (359 posts) -

Much like Fortnite and the success of their Battle Pass, it’ll probably take a well-established publisher/developer to release a full game at $70-$80. As the saying goes, in business no one tries to be first, but everyone tries to be second. The other thing to consider is that even if the base price were $70-$80 companies would still nickel and dime us with DLC, loot boxes, etc. because why wouldn’t they?

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#17 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4443 posts) -

Dota 2 introduced the battlepass in 2016.

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#18 Posted by NTM (11850 posts) -

I don't know, but I hope they never go up in price.

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#19 Posted by FrodoBaggins (2086 posts) -

I don't buy hardly any games at £40-50, never Mind if they went up in price!

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#20 Posted by The_Greg (543 posts) -

@boozak said:
@the_greg said:

10 years ago, new games were £30 at play.com. Now they're £50.

However, I remember my uncle showing me his SNES game collection and some of those games had £80 stickers on them. I couldn't believe it, especially when taking inflation into consideration.

Does play.com even exist anymore? I seached for it and was redirected to a site recommending other sites which were selling new games (or games that havent even come out yet like Kingdom Hearts 3 and Resident Evil 2) for under £40. Switch games are more expensive to produce though so they do cost slightly more.

Ultimately though the price of games seems to vary more than before. Unless you're going to GAME (or Gamestop I guess is the US eqivalent) in which case you'll always pay full price for as long as they can get away with it.

To be honest i'm just glad you can still buy physical games. Even if they are just discs that force 50gb downloads on you.

Amazon bought them, I think.

The fact that we pay the same for digital and physical is a bit odd, though. The cost of the case, disc, box art, distribution, the outlet's cut... It probably doesn't add up to much per game, but still.

I have 101 games installed on my Xbox one and another 98 in the 'ready to install' tab, and I don't own a single physical Xbox game. If a new game comes out, I check the reviews to make sure it's not garbage then buy it when I'm at work and set it to download remotely so that it's downloaded when I get home. Much more convenient than dealing with discs.

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#21 Posted by Rebel_Scum (1442 posts) -

In New Zealand new Sega Master System games were about $120, new Sega Megadrive games were $160 - $200. I remember paying $220 for Sonic & Knuckles when that came out.

Now games are $79-89 new. It's a good time to be alive lol.

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#22 Edited by ToxicAntidote (1142 posts) -

There's also the factor that way more people are interested in buying games today, so the total income on selling games are higher than before.

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#23 Posted by Humanity (18861 posts) -

It’s more like the price of games has finally caught up to development costs, and now that they have publishers etc have standardized DLC to offset the difference.

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#24 Posted by soulcake (2811 posts) -

Way more videogames are being sold in the recent years also the tools for making videogames have become easier (stuff like speedtree and other "automation tools"). Also recent examples like God of War and Red Dead 2 both Humongous games to make (price and workhours) made a decent profit, so i still think 69 euros or 60 bucks is still a decent price ( 69 euros is around 80 bucks)

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#25 Posted by stayflip (28 posts) -

Games aren't perceived to be worth more than $60, even though that's probably underpriced for most AAA games now. That's why you see games sneaking extra revenue streams through the back door.

I don't really buy the Jim Sterling "GREEDY DEVS" line; outside of relatively few hugely succesful hits and cash-cows, I don't think most games are that profitable and the general situation of development seems precarious.

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#26 Edited by MrGreenMan (222 posts) -

because of micro transactions and loot crates and a 100 different versions of pre-order trash not worth anything. These AAA publishers nickel and dime everything these days in video game it's impossible to avoid. I mean they make 100's of millions just from that stuff alone and it's still not enough.

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#27 Posted by BoOzak (2617 posts) -

@the_greg said:
@boozak said:
@the_greg said:

10 years ago, new games were £30 at play.com. Now they're £50.

However, I remember my uncle showing me his SNES game collection and some of those games had £80 stickers on them. I couldn't believe it, especially when taking inflation into consideration.

Does play.com even exist anymore? I seached for it and was redirected to a site recommending other sites which were selling new games (or games that havent even come out yet like Kingdom Hearts 3 and Resident Evil 2) for under £40. Switch games are more expensive to produce though so they do cost slightly more.

Ultimately though the price of games seems to vary more than before. Unless you're going to GAME (or Gamestop I guess is the US eqivalent) in which case you'll always pay full price for as long as they can get away with it.

To be honest i'm just glad you can still buy physical games. Even if they are just discs that force 50gb downloads on you.

Amazon bought them, I think.

The fact that we pay the same for digital and physical is a bit odd, though. The cost of the case, disc, box art, distribution, the outlet's cut... It probably doesn't add up to much per game, but still.

I have 101 games installed on my Xbox one and another 98 in the 'ready to install' tab, and I don't own a single physical Xbox game. If a new game comes out, I check the reviews to make sure it's not garbage then buy it when I'm at work and set it to download remotely so that it's downloaded when I get home. Much more convenient than dealing with discs.

It's more convenient sure but discs tend to be about £20 cheaper if you look around and that adds up over time. (not to mention you can sell games you know you'll never play again) There are also a lot of older games that never go down in price digitally that you can get really cheap physically. I will get games digitally if I know i'm going to be playing them for a long time, but sometimes it's hard to tell what games will hold my attention. (I wish I got Monster Hunter World digitally)

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#28 Posted by GERALTITUDE (5990 posts) -

Just more people to sell games to. Part of it anyways.

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#30 Posted by Newfangled (302 posts) -

@the_greg said:

10 years ago, new games were £30 at play.com. Now they're £50.

I can corroborate this to some extent. I recall looking at online UK games retailers offering pre-orders and new releases for a fraction of the RRP––often somewhere in the region of £34.99-37.99 ($45-49) around that length of time ago (ShopTo used to offer low prices). I don't play on consoles, nor buy AAA games at release any longer, but it astounds me when I come across listings and see consistent £50-55 prices across the board. With microtransactions commonplace in many major games nowadays, it's not difficult to fathom overall costs to the consumer being the region of £90-100 ($155-130) for 'complete' experiences.

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#31 Posted by dudeglove (13765 posts) -

The answer is that they have but not the up-front MSRP. This is because the costs have been subsidized through other nefarious methods such as games becoming loaded with not just microtransactions, but also collector's editions and "season passes" that bring up the total price - not to mention several major titles basically being ruses for getting your email out of you and telemetry to extract demographic information out of you (for example it's my firm belief that Overwatch is not just an FPS but a deliberate social network). Demographic information is exploitable and can be leveraged in advertising. This is how they've kept the price "the same" (except not the same because inflation etc.)

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#32 Edited by TuxedoCruise (248 posts) -

Living in the US, it's difficult for me to watch price trends on other territories. It does seem like there have been price hikes in the UK/EU, and especially in South America. That puts in some more context as to why I've seen stories of tourists visiting the US to buy games.

To make things a bit more apples to apples, I'm mainly talking about AAA games. I remember paying $80 USD for Super Metroid, and $55 for Final Fantasy VII on launch day. Within the last year I spent $60 on God of War, Asssassin's Creed Odyssey, Red Dead Redemption 2, Spider-Man, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. I didn't engage with any of the microtransactions, season passes, or any other DLC for those games, and I felt like I got my money's worth. I usually don't come back to games after I finish them, so that's another habit that keeps me moving on to the next game.

I do remember game prices varying more wildly when I started buying them in the mid-90s. I recall first party games were sometimes $5-$10 cheaper than third party games.

I also remember at the start of the Xbox 360's life, first party Microsoft games were $50. But then they all went to up $60 without anyone batting an eye.

Is it safe to assume that publishers have kept the $60 price due to manufacturing and cutting in retailers? But because manufacturing is much cheaper now, and a lot of sales are done digitally, that cost has now shifted over to the actual rise of development costs and inflation?

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#33 Edited by The_Greg (543 posts) -

@boozak said:

It's more convenient sure but discs tend to be about £20 cheaper if you look around and that adds up over time. (not to mention you can sell games you know you'll never play again) There are also a lot of older games that never go down in price digitally that you can get really cheap physically. I will get games digitally if I know i'm going to be playing them for a long time, but sometimes it's hard to tell what games will hold my attention. (I wish I got Monster Hunter World digitally)

Definitely true. The offers and price drops on physical are much better, I just can't be doing with discs anymore. Also, I've only ever traded one game in (Bioshock), so it's not really something I think about.

A lot of people also like to see and feel their collection, which I understand. Especially if you're a fan of collectors editions and stuff. Physical rewards for deluxe editions are much better than the in-game shit you get with digital.

I have two simple rules: Never EVER pre-order and always buy the base/standard/cheapest version of the game. Every time I get the season pass edition of a game, I get burned. Destiny 2, I'm looking at you.

@newfangled Thanks for clarifying. It's quite easy to put these things down to greed, but I have no idea how the economics of the gaming industry work.

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#36 Posted by someoneproud (604 posts) -

The UK prices have been steadily increasing for the most part $60/~£47 is almost unheard of for a new AAA release. Also they often cost more than the entry price with all the stripped out content and MTX these days. I feel like games are much worse value these days when compared to PS2 era.

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#37 Posted by spyder335 (628 posts) -

they tried it in Australia games went from 100 to 120 for most AAA titles for about 6 months, then they dropped back down.

Im guessing people just wouldn't buy at that price or would wait for a sale.

I still have a box for donkey kong country 2 with a $120 tag on it, the prices haven't really increased as more people buy games now. Early 90's games were very much a niche market today when the biggest of them sell 10's of millions of copies its hard to justify the increase.

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#38 Posted by tds418 (490 posts) -

I think the simple answer is that consumers would probably balk at, say, games that sold for $60 USD a couple years ago being sold for $80 now. That's a lot of money for a piece of entertainment that comes on a disc. The more complex answer is that there are more potential consumers now, manufacturing/distributing costs have gone down, and many games have opportunity for people to spend more money on them down the line through DLC/cosmetics/etc.

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#39 Posted by soimadeanaccount (624 posts) -

You can not approach this with just a singular mindset of cost of production.

DLCs and microtransations contribute to this, rather you buy into them or not.

There was (also still is) sequels and franchises.

Plus market has grown.

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#40 Posted by Alias (47 posts) -

I still often wonder why physical and digital games cost the same amount around the time of release (digital sometimes more) and why there isn't a 5 or 10 dollar difference to encourage digital consumers

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#41 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7612 posts) -

Even though some people don't buy DLC ist seems like many do, or more than enough spend so much as to offset their lack of 'enthusiasm'. Moreover, the cost of DLC is typically a bit high for what you get or what is spent to make it (just my opinion). So, in short, the average amount players pay for a game + DLC is now well above $80. So, the cost of games has gone up - it just that the cost are slightly hidden.

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#42 Posted by wardcleaver (317 posts) -

@alias said:

I still often wonder why physical and digital games cost the same amount around the time of release (digital sometimes more) and why there isn't a 5 or 10 dollar difference to encourage digital consumers

I think this is probably due to agreements that the publishers have with brick-n-mortar retail outlets. I imagine large retail outlets, like Wal Mart in the US, still move a large number of copies. I imagine retail outlets would not be happy if Sony, MS, EA, etc., offered the same game digitally on their own service for less (at launch, anyway). Having said that, I have noticed that on Sony and MS's respective digital marketplaces, newer games are often discounted shortly after release.

The only time I have seen physical cheaper than digital was during Black Friday sales.

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#43 Edited by haneybd87 (396 posts) -

Probably because the basic things in life have gotten proportionately more expensive compared to wages (housing, food, healthcare, etc.). A large portion of the population is having a hard enough time making ends meet, let alone being able to spend $60 on a video game. I know people that won’t buy a new game at $60 because they’re broke but will wait until it’s dropped to half price or less. I may find myself in that same situation soon enough.

It’s a complicated situation. Yes, video games do cost more to make, but would increasing the price to say $70 even increase profits? Could it potentially decrease profits? Could profits stay even but then lose customers that could potentially buy a game in the future? We’ll never know for sure until publishers start charging more but my guess is they’re reluctant to do this for fear it will have a negative effect on their profits.

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#44 Posted by SethMode (2039 posts) -

It probably has at least a mild relation to how gamers jizfreak the fuck out about the prices of EVERYTHING.