Video games are expensive – any gamer knows this. As a player myself, I know how games can be expensive, and why renting games or streaming games are the best options for any serious gamer.
As graphics improve, gameplay mechanics gain complexity, and designing teams grow bigger and bigger, most games are charging sixty bucks, justifying the price by claiming that they are simply more extensive than games of previous generations.
But as game developers struggle further and further to meet deadlines, it seems that despite production values, games seem to only be getting shorter. And especially when games are sometimes incomplete without highly priced downloadable content, are gamers getting their money’s worth, or are we just being cheated out of our money?
In most cases, I would say that this is true. There is no denying that games have gotten a drastic uplift in quality in some cases. For example, titles like Mass Effect 2 are completely exempt from the criticisms of this article. That is an example of a game that gives the player a very replayable 30+ hour game that feels programmed nearly to perfection and feels like a complete game.
Just take a look at Part 1 of walkthrough for Mass Effect 2 – it’s already at 40 minutes!
Although it does have downloadable content, it only serves as an extra and is fairly reasonably priced. However, many other games simply don’t offer as much value.
Let’s talk about the opposite end of the spectrum. Several months after the release of the movie Wanted, a game called Wanted: Weapons of Fate was released at the full 60 dollar retail price. However, the game received lukewarm reviews mostly because not only were certain parts of it kind of bland, but the game was unbelievably short.
This game was a massive disappointment in terms of value for the price:
Most complained that it took as little as two hours to complete, with the most generous claiming that the whole story took about six hours.
And the game has no multi-player. Now honestly, there is a vast difference between the two mentioned games. Mass Effect had an established fan base and was almost guaranteed to make a lot of money, while all Wanted had going for it was its license.
Still, does that justify such an incredible drop in quantity and quality for the same price? I say absolutely no.
Wanted is not the only game guilty of this charge, either. Some add multi-player, which can ease the blow quite a bit, if it isn’t merely tacked on. Still, no gamer wants to pay so much money for a game that has so little value to it.
Strangely enough, these problems have been stretching into downloadable titles too. The recent release of Limbo comes to mind – the game, a 2d puzzle game with a beautiful art style and some nice puzzle-based gameplay, has gotten a lot of critical praise.
However, after downloading the game’s trial and comparing the actual experience to the price it costs, it’s actually a bit mind blowing. Limbo is a quite sophisticated looking game with much higher production values than your average 2d game, but let’s face it – one can play some very, very similar games, albeit with less impressive visuals and sound, online for FREE.
And yet this game, a very simple 2d puzzle game that lasts no more than about 3-5 hours in most cases, costs gamers 15 dollars. In this case, it is clearly not production costs that elevate a game’s price. In my opinion, something like that should cost 5 dollars, maybe 10 (which I also consider pretty expensive for it).
I don’t advocate buying games unless you’re supporting indie games like this one:
Basically, gamers need to start questioning what they’re paying for sometimes when they purchase a game at full price. Now, despite certain game like Mass Effect 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV that really give gamers a fully realized game to play, there are many that really half-ass their way onto store shelves at full price.
There are games that come with lower production values than others and are priced accordingly, but those are unfortunately few and far between.
I just personally hope the industry can start to realize that it should stop trying to cheap gamers out of their money and give them what they pay for. If not, why buy when you can just rent out your games?