Video games are too cheap for their own good (and no I’m not crazy)

Elden Ring – you do get your money’s worth (pic:

A reader argues that video games either need to see an increase in price or a decrease in length, in order to keep them sustainable.

During the pandemic video games companies had never had it so good, with sales up and a captive audience desperately in search of something to do. You do wonder how some of these businesses got to be the size they are though, because they all seem to have banked on that level of interest in gaming continuing, despite it clearly being based on a very peculiar set of circumstances.

It’s not just games companies though, with seemingly all tech giants, like Google and Amazon, getting rid of tens of thousands of jobs that they’d created during the pandemic. For games publishers not only have they found that demand has fallen back to normal levels but they still haven’t caught up with the work-from-home created delays. That and they still have to face the existing problem of AAA games costing more and more money to make over a longer and longer period of time.

Far less games are coming out now than ever before and release dates are still constantly getting delayed multiple times. On several levels the AAA video games industry is looking unsustainable and yet nobody seems to be doing anything about it and what I believe to be the core problem: video games are too cheap.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying them being cheap is a bad thing from a customer’s perspective but from the publisher’s point of view the current pricing standards make no sense. Imagine if a Ferrari cost just a couple of grand: you’d think that was amazing and immediately want to buy one (even though that’s still quite a bit of money) and yet at the same time you’d be well aware that the price makes no sense and there’s no way the manufacturer can be making their money back. That’s basically where games are at the moment.

People complain about DLC and microtransactions and season passes and all the rest, as if they’re some evil invention created purely to mess with gamers, but how else do you think these company’s are going to make their money back? From people waiting six months or so to buy the game at half the price it was at launch?

Especially now that free-to-play games and Game Pass has reduced the perceived value of video games to almost nothing. Even though just a decade ago 12 hours was the average length for a single-player campaign you now have people complaining when a game is ‘only’ 30 hours and doesn’t have any free DLC because… getting things for free, for no reason, is the inalienable right of all gamers?

People want more from their games (because they’ve been led to expect it) and yet they’re willing to pay less and less for it. These are problems of the publishers’ own making but there are only two obvious solutions in my book: make the games more expensive or make them shorter.

Personally, I’d prefer they make them more expensive, because I tend to play only a small number of games per year but those that I do I try to get the most out of. So, for example, I’ve put 300 hours into Elden Ring and I could easily be tempted into another playthrough. Considering how little money I paid for it, compared to how much it would cost to get 300 hours of entertainment out of a movie or any other comparable activity, that’s madness.

I’ll accept though that not many people are going to want game prices to increase, especially given the economy at the moment. But then the only other option is making them shorter. In some cases, this might actually might them better games – I’d say that games such as God Of War Ragnarök, indeed most Sony exclusives, are unnecessarily bloated, seemingly in an attempt to justify their cost. Personally though, I’d prefer they didn’t do that.

Of course, there is a third option: leave things as they are. But that just means even less games coming out, that have to make their money back through ever more distasteful means. The status quo is never a good idea but whether there will be any meaningful change, I just don’t know.

By reader Helliard

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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