That title is pretty much the summation of this entire article. Now before you start in on me, please understand that I am not speaking about the “quality” of any game. I am also not speaking to the price a game costs to make, which has obviously gone up. Nor am I about to tell you that you should pirate games; that is bad for the industry and illegal. And finally, I am not about to harp on about how every game should be free to play, because they should not.
So what am I talking about? I am talking about the video game market and how it has decided that games are not worth 60$. I am talking about how the used game debate is a complete non-issue for the patient consumer. And I am going to tell you why you don’t have to spend $60 on any game.
Let us start off with just a few examples. Bioshock Infinite, the highly lauded FPS in the sky, less than 2 months after release was 40$ on the Amazon Gold Box sale. Shortly after that it was moved to a permanent price of 40$. The season pass is 20$, and the DLC is set for release soon. So that means that day one customers shelled out 60$ for the same price that you can now get all the DLC and the full game.
Another example is Tomb Raider. One of my favorite games this year and now 40$ on Amazon. Now you may be saying “That’s quite a wait for just 20$” and you would be right, but take on these other numbers. 4 Months after release, June, saw Tomb Raider discounted to 23$ on PSN. This edition included all the Multiplayer DLC and a copy of Quantum Conundrum. Not to be outdone, Steam’s Summer Sale had the game for 13$. That is a saving of 37$ on each platform, considering the PC version is 50$ originally.
The last major example I will bring to the table is Dishonored. Currently the game sits at 21$ on Amazon and 11 months away from its release. Yes, that is a long time but the real deal was last year on Black Friday. Provided you could Blink your way through the crowds you could obtain a copy for 25$. That is just over 30 days and 35$ saved. Was Dishonored a good game? Sure, but it was the exact same game for 25$ as it was for 60$.
And that is point number one. The game you bought for 60$ is the exact same game that someone else bought a year later for 20$. In fact, the game is often better for it. Examples being Medal of Honor Warfighter which had a notorious day one patch and multiple patches after that. If you do not like that example, try The Last of Us on for size. Several people encountered a save bug that was quickly addressed and very few people were affected, but no one buying the game a day later encountered the same problem. Skyrim was near unplayable on PS3, some DLC literally so, until more recent patches, which by no means fixed the myriad of problems, but resolved enough to smooth out the harshest edges. So why the rush to have a game on day one if everyone buying them a month to a year later is having a better experience than you – for cheaper?
Excluding patches and assuming that every game comes out without bugs, you still have DLC to contend with. The first few instances of DLC (Horse Armor anyone?) rocked the gaming community as people felt they were not receiving the entire game. The argument can swing, and has swung, one way or another, but for just a little bit of your time you can remove yourself from it entirely. Borderlands 2, released September 2012, is now 20$ on Amazon. The season pass, which was just fulfilled with the latest DLC, Assault on Dragons Keep, is 30$. So if you feel like DLC is detracting from the main game then you can get the “full” experience for 50$ and 12 months of patience. If you feel as though DLC simply enhances the main game then you have basically doubled the game’s overall value and still payed 10$ less than everyone who obtained half the game you are playing. So what is the argument for having a game day one?
It is pure and unadulterated zeitgeist. The hardcore gamer will pay exactly what the market demands. But the market demands only what the consumer will pay. If you need proof just harken you browser back to the days of 1983, when the video game industry imploded. The market was inundated with trash games that nobody wanted to buy for any price, much less 60$. The consumers refused to pay and so the game companies went out of business, and without them there were no games, and with no games, there was no game industry. Does this mean that the same thing is going to happen today? Probably not, but history does repeat itself and history is telling us that a company will charge exactly what they can get away with, even to the detriment of the entire market. Why are games 60$? Because you, loyal gamer, will pay that much.
The entire market is based on you. Games cost 60$ because it is what you are willing to pay. Games are more expensive to produce because you will not pay 60$ for less. Games have more “story” because you expect that for 60$. Marketing for games is as out of control as it is today because they need to ensure that 60$ from you. Games are boiled down to generic action shooters because they need to maximize the number of you that will pay 60$. Game companies survive off of you with every 60$ you plop down. Are you noticing a trend here? It all relies on you and your willingness to buy a game for 60$. The consumer is in control of the market and if the consumer is unwilling to pay then the market evolves or it dies.
People seem to forget that they hold the power in their wallet. The publisher has nothing without you, but somehow we have been convinced that if we want to play games then we have to forfeit 60$. This is one of the main reasons gamers turn to the used market, because saving 5$ is better than saving nothing at all. While it is your right as a consumer to resell your purchased items, it does affect the market in a negative way. No game is worth 60$, but a used sale sends not a dime to the developer or publisher. Whereas when I purchased Max Payne 3 for 8$, Rockstar saw a good portion of that money. It does not take a mathematician to see that 8$ is greater than 0$. By being patient you can just remove yourself from the used market entirely.
One of the major arguments that people make for the used market is that they trade in games to pay for new ones. While you may think that this absolves you of all harm, it in fact is just perpetuating the injury. Your used game is now another potentially lost sale for the publisher. While you may not be feeding the machine directly, you are still baiting its traps. Other consumers are walking into that Gamestop, seeing Tomb Raider for 45$ and thinking they are getting a deal when in-fact, with a little patience and observation, they could have paid less than half that for a brand new copy. But now Joe Schmo gamer has a used copy, Gamestop has 45$, and Square Enix is crying that Tomb Raider is a failure. And all for what? So you could have your brand new shiny 60$ title that you could not rightly afford? But you are blameless because you do not buy games used, right? Wrong. The only way to stop the continuation of the used market is to exit it wholesale.
Now you have waited and all your friends are playing a game you are not, and this probably saddens you. So how do you participate in the zeitgeist and only pay 20$ or less for those 60$ titles; short of scamming a 7 day return policy? Well lucky for you, renting is still legal. What this requires though, is some fortitude and commitment on your part. If you want a game to succeed, you have to make sure that you do purchase it new after it is within your price range. “But if I’ve already played it, then why would I buy it?” because if you give two licks about videogames as a medium then you must support them, but as the consumer you can, and should, support them on your own terms. Gamefly is sometimes unreliable but I have found great success with Redbox. They will often send my codes via SMS that allow me one free day of a rental game. So if you are looking to save even more cash, plan around these deals.
Alternatively, you could simply abandon the zeitgeist. Give every game a year to breathe, receive bug fixes, and finish out all the DLC. Then you swoop in, buy brand new copies of everything and enjoy a better game. Let us go down a hypothetical and say that you stop buying games at 60$ and instead wait a year and buy one game a month for 20$ instead.
60$ X 12$ = 720$ – Buying one game a month at 60$
20$ X 12$ = 240$ – Buying one game a month at 20$
720$ – 240$ = 480$ – Potential savings
In one year you have saved yourself 480 smackaroons! You could buy nearly any new game system you wanted with that extra cash. Within ten years you could afford a trip to Paris. Within twenty years you could put a down payment on a house. Within fifty years you could buy a brand new car, off of saved money alone. All of this just by ignoring the day one fervor and playing games on your own time frame.
So we have already established that after 6 months games are worth about half their initial price. We have also covered how you can remove yourself from the equations of DLC and used games by just waiting. And lastly we have laid out ways to still enjoy that day one discussion without paying the exorbitant entry fee. So the question now stands, how much is a game actually worth?
Below is a chart I whipped together to show the fluctuation in prices. The sales may not be the first or best sale as there are so many places to buy games. Despite that, I feel the numbers provided speak for themselves.
|GAME||RELEASE DATE||DATE OF SALE||SALE PRICE||CURRENT AMAZON PRICE|
|ASSASSIN’S CREED 3||10/30/12||Black Friday 2012||$25.00, Consoles||$35.00|
|MEDAL OF HONOR WARFIGHTER||10/26/12||Black Friday 2012||$25.00, Consoles||$13.35|
|HALO 4||09/06/12||12/09/12||$40.00, 360||$27.98|
|BORDERLANDS 2||10/30/12||Black Friday 2012||$25.00, Consoles||$20.00|
|HITMAN ABSOLUTION||09/20/12||12/09/12||$40.00, Consoles||$16.49|
|PLAYSTATION ALLSTARS||09/20/12||04/29/13||$19.59, PS3/Vita||$19.99|
|FAR CRY 3||12/04/12||04/11/13||$30.00, Consoles||$32.99|
|DEAD SPACE 3||02/05/13||02/19/13||$40.00, Consoles||$33.58|
Sale Prices Sources –