Why $50 Is Too Much

Video games are overpriced. $50 is a ridiculous amount of money for a form of entertainment. Back in the days of cartridges, it almost made sense, but now the standard media is so cheap, there's no reason for it. There's a simple way to fix this: advertising.

Sure, games have had advertisements for years. Hell, some game ARE ads. Look back to titles like "Yo Noid!" on the NES or "Chester Cheetah" on the 16-bit consoles (that one actually got a sequel). Then games like "Jet Moto" plaster the sides of the courses with ads for Butterfinger candy. Sports games of course usually line the sidelines with ads for various sponsorships and it actually adds something to the realism of the title.

But yet, they still cost $50. Sports titles are the biggest crime since not only do they change very little from year to year, but also they basically become a commercial as you play. I'm not even going to mention the fact that most of the TV stations have their on-screen graphics plastered all over the place and that provides yet another layer of funds.

Should advertisements take over our games in order to cut the price down? No. They should NEVER interfere with the gameplay. They should NEVER have actual commercials in between sections of the games. They CAN be subtle and on the sides of buildings in the game or even on a billboard. They STILL manage to rip-off game companies. Wait, what?

Think about it. We'll use the upcoming "Gran Turismo 4" on the PS2. Here's a car lovers dream game. It features hundreds (if not thousands this time around) of real life vehicles, yet Sony has to pay the car companies for each individual license. Here is a title that will reach a million people within a matter of days giving those companies incredible exposure, almost without a doubt better than that of an Super Bowl ad. Yet, Sony has forked over millions pushing the price to $50 a copy.

Yes, it's the corporations that should be scrambling to get their stuff in a game but for whatever reason (lawyers I'm sure), game makers are the ones paying the price and unwillingly passing it on to the consumer. Let's face the fact. A high quality game at $20 will sell much better than one at $50. Sega and the "ESPN" line has done incredibly well, not only because of the gameplay, but because people are sick of forking over $50 for a minor update and their title has a sticker price of $20. This proves that point. So, by paying Sony the money to get their various vehicles in the game, the title's price drops and more copies are sold, increasing the exposure by at least a million (and that's only in the first week).

I'm sure Sega (sorry about the overuse of Sega) paid quite a bit to use real restaurants like Pizza Hut and KFC in the "Crazy Taxi" series. Both companies actually charged a game developer to advertise for them. Do TV stations have to pay to get commercials aired? Let that sink in to realize just how absurd this really is.

The entire system needs to be changed here. Major corporations should be clamoring for a spot in a video game especially with their popularity at an all time high. They are the ones who should be handing out checks, not the gamers. Should the NFL be the one paying to get their logo in "Madden?" Something to think about, isn't it?

Comments (3)


You haven't seen the list of credits for a modern video game have you?

The premise of your article is flawed. The price of a video game has nothing to do with licensing, product placement or the price of the media it's printed on. It's only got to do with how much money consumers will pay for it. If consumers collectively decide that $50 is too much to pay, then the price will drop. Even if, by some strange circumstances, companies start to pay video game makers to lisence their products, if collectively people decide that they'll pay $50, then a video game will still cost $50. Econ 101 folks.

No, no. Sure, some games sell real well at $50 year after year. EA's sports games, Halo obviously will, GTA, etc. But what about everything else? Why are stores like Best Buy and Circuit City clearing out games at $5? Why do many people just wait for a games price to drop (www.cheapassgamer.com)? Because they know it will. Why? Games are too expensive and it's too crowded out there. Both are very valid reasons and likely are neck and neck with each other. I haven't paid full price for a game in over a year, maybe longer. There's no reason to. $50 it too much.

Chris Mayle:

In a sense, you're right. Those games that start out at $50 and fall to $5 are examples where the market has decided that they are indeed too expensive. It's simple supply and demand. When demand is high, the price will remain high. When the demand falls (or supply increases), so will the price fall.

But these things are all independent of the supply-side "cost" of the game, which includes paying everyone who worked on it, programmers, managers, artists, voice/motion actors, playtesters, marketeers, distributors, licensing fees, etc. Even if game makers somehow persuaded licensers to pick up part of the cost of the game: 1) it would only be a fraction of the total cost, 2) the market sets the price of the game anyway. So it's falacious to say that "Licensers should be paying the game producers, and the game producers should be passing the savings along to us." Cost and price are mostly independent.

Just FYI, I generally wait for a game's price to drop as well. GTA:SA and GT4 will be an exception.

But I disagree with arbitrary, sweeping generalization that $50 is "too expensive." If something costs $50 and it sells like hotcakes, then it's priced exactly right. If not, its price will fall to match demand.

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