Too Cheap – An Opinion on How Value is Underappreciated in Games
Gaming is Cheap.
There is an argument that gets brought up when a game development company or producer talks about wanting to limit used game sales. Many arguments can be made about that, but the loudest seems to be that $60 is a lot of money for a brand new game, and they need some way of offsetting that charge through resale. I’m not going to argue against the right of first sale. Property paid for in full should always be yours to do what it is you want to do with it.
The cost of your entertainment however? Pretty cheap.
Video games are now past the $10 billion mark in revenue. Around 67% of the US marketplace plays video games in one form or another; this is ESRB fact finding. There is money to be made in this industry from all who want to come and take it. This creates a wealth of developers trying to take a piece of the pie. Sure, some do it cheaper than others, but at the end of the day, it’s all cheap. My reasoning for this is that whenever I ask anybody that plays video games about their backlog, the nearly universal response is some variation of “I will never be able to tackle it.”
That is just a very odd statement to hear that has somehow been perceived as normal. It sounds like we are hoarders.
Not many people make this statement about films that aren’t close to the industry. Its because you can watch a film in 2-3 hours. If you tried, you could clear a big backlog in a week. I’ve only really heard it tied to books and TV and there is one reason for this. You won’t be able to knock out an entire season or a really good book with out putting some real time in to it.
That’s what makes these 3 mediums almost too good to be true. A good book stimulates your imagination for hours in ways you will never be able to replicate. A good TV show will draw your attention away from the world for the 12+ episodes that it absorbs you for. A good game? You could spend as long as you like with a good game.
Games are replayable. Some in better fashion than others, but essentially, this industry creates experiences that cannot be limited. I’ve played Final Fantasy VII for about 15 years now and I use this game as my go to example for these instances, not because it is popular but, because the game literally changed me. I owned the game around the age of 12 years old, so that puts it in to some pretty special categories. It was a game that I owned back when I didn’t have a lot of money to own games.
Running through my statistics, I probably have spent about $40 for the game between rentals and my full purchase in 1998. I have spent close to 180 hours with the game over my lifetime (rough estimate). This equates to roughly $0.23 per hour of my life roughly.
That my friends, is a steal.
I decided to go snooping around some steam buddies profiles to see what their most played games are and made a fun little math problem out of it:
Hours Played ÷ Original Cost = Entertainment Value Per Hour
One friend has played Tropico 4 for 82 hours which equates to $0.49 not factoring in extra DLC charges. Another has spent roughly the same amount of time on both Fallout: New Vegas and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
This isn’t all inclusive, however, as you look further down the list and there are plenty of games that never went past the full hour. For the readership of this blog, I’m sure this rings true for a lot of you. You have too many games that you have weeded through to latch on to the few that you truly love to play to completion. This is usually where GameStop comes in to reclaim those titles that go unloved, or to help you fund your next attempt to find that piece of entertainment that will grip you for literal days of your life.
Many have negative things to say about GameStop, but let’s be honest; they aren’t all that bad. I say this because everybody fails to remember that GameStop is essentially a pawn shop. You bring your product in for a price and they resell it for a higher price. So you buy your game for $60, sell it for $35 or less and they resell it at a price that you wish you were paid. Seems fair for those that want to or have to unload their games. Plus they aren’t as shady as most pawnshops I’ve been to.
Those expecting not to get fleeced, quality customer service or any other extraordinary circumstance to occur at GameStop, should remember that these people are pawnbrokers. You likely won’t get that.
Let’s give GameStop their credit though. They expanded the market and created competition amongst retailers. This competition fuels deals, and deals are the reason why all of us have such lofty backlogs.
I know it is an unpopular opinion, but to be honest, the game industry is full of quality titles for cheap. I have gems that I’ve bought for $1. I have time sinks that I’ve spent $60 on. For anyone to run around complaining about the current cost of the games market is ludicrous. There are some people that only play the Madden all year long, and we laugh at the product they enjoy because we don’t think the game has improved enough for our standards.
Yes, I hate subscriptions, online passes, on-disc DLC, and all those other shady things that publishers are doing right now to make more bang for their buck. They are dirtying this good thing we have going with them, however, these people are creating entertainment. Something that should be celebrated as a spectacle.
Grand Theft Auto V will drop at the same price as Aliens: Colonial Marines did which is the same price as The Last of Us is currently. The reason all of you flocked to the first and third isn’t because of the price. It is because it is a worthwhile investment. If the game isn’t perceived as that, supply and demand will correct this and reduce the cost. Deals happen all the time in this industry because there is always something hot and new to sink your claws into.
I think we honestly pay too little for all these games that we play, and that’s why I would say we consume so much of it. I don’t think that is a bad thing, and this industry is providing so much bang for our buck that its starting to become a guilty pleasure for me. Now I need to start finishing that backlog.