Games Inbox: The high cost of making video games
The Thursday letters page wonders whether Sony has a mole at Xbox HQ and vice versa, as one reader discusses scary video game enemies.
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To correct some misconceptions, it’s not Apple that sets the price of the games on the App Store but the developer, so you can point the finger at Capcom for the price of Resident Evil 4. But they did say they want to increase the price of games so welcome to the new future.
Talking of the price of games, while the price of games might not have increased since the 90s, people seem to ignore that the industry was worth around $20 billion back then and now it’s worth around $220 billion, so they are making more money even if the costs to develop games has increased.
Also, worth mentioning the cost to physically produce and distribute games was more than it is now in an increasingly digital industry; digital is cheaper than disc-based media and disc-based media is cheaper than cartridges.
GC: The games industry at large may be worth $220 billion but the lion’s share of that is the mobile market. Console gaming is currently worth $56 billion, which is a much smaller increase when you consider that the cost of making games has risen from less than $1 million in the SNES days to more than $200 million for a AAA current gen game.
All this talk of prices of games going up. I recently dug out my PlayStation 1 collection to find a sticker from Virgin Megastore, on a copy of WWF Attitude, stating £69.99!
PS1 games were so expensive at the start, until they started dropping to £45. I can’t believe I paid that much for basically a compact disc! Great game at the time though.
Adam_Lion_23 (PSN ID)
Currently playing: Guardian Of The Colossus (brilliant game so far)!
GC: Do you mean Shadow Of The Colossus?
When games were £40-50, I used to buy most big releases at launch, and those that I didn’t I’d ask for my birthday or Christmas. Then they’d mostly sit there on the shelf of shame, never to be played as my collection grew. This price point was I think the sweet spot, where I wouldn’t really think twice about making a purchase.
Now games are £60-70 I pretty much never buy a game at release – the last one I did was Advance Wars, which was £50, and before that was Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition with the original Spider-Man included. Everything else, I wait for sales, or more likely, I just won’t buy, as if I’m not desperate to play at launch I am probably not actually that bothered to play the game at all.
So please, publishers, keep raising the price of games; you’re actually saving me money.
GC: But if you never played them, when they were cheaper, at least being more expensive encourages you to get something out of the money you spent.
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Glass half empty
RE: Freddy. I’m not completely sure I would describe the words of Capcom’s president as ‘honest’, personally.
Yes, game budgets have increased dramatically over the years, in part because of graphical fidelity increasing (for which the publishers and developers should take some of the blame for convincing the consumers that a better looking game is a better game overall), but he doesn’t factor in the fact that the market, the number of customers, has drastically increased too.
If a game costs 100 times more to develop than it did 30 years ago, but sells 200 times more copies, then his argument is disingenuous.
As for better graphics, the fact that Nintendo is regularly mocked for having underpowered consoles, yet also regularly sells more units that the competition heavily implies that the everyday consumer will in fact put up with lesser graphics.
He mentioned that increasing prices would create better wages for the employees. If he is so concerned about that, he could forgoe his annual 20% raises, have a less lavish lifestyle (he’s paid millions per year) and use that to increase employee wages, but I guarantee he won’t.
GC: What an ill-tempered email.
It’s amazing, really. All of us fools wondering why Sony are being so quiet this year, when their masterplan all along was to place a mole in one of Microsoft’s departments months ago to accidentally release the sensitive documents for all the world to see.
It has a tinge of Ocean’s Twelve to it, in that the heist had already been completed long ago but we all had to wait for everything else to play out.
Apologies for any spoilers of a 19-year-old film as well!
GC: Just like the mole Microsoft installed to head up Sony’s marketing team for the last year or so.
With the month of darkness and demons just days away, I have what I think is a half-decent Hot Topic suggestion for the day of horror. I know it’s early, but I can’t sit on something this juicy for that long!
What is the scariest creature/enemy you have encountered in a game? I know, Soulsborne games will probably win this in a landslide, but hey. Let’s not rule out bosses, though. Omega Flowey from Undertale was pretty scary, though I think there are worse things. Like those weird, body bag style monsters in Silent Hill 2. Of course, all these examples are overtly monstrous, I would like to hear of more subtle villains who terrify because of their ideologies.
Only Caesar from Fallout: New Vegas comes to mind for that one… But I’m sure there are better. Or worse. You know what I mean.
GC: That’s a pretty good idea.
Zelda themed amiibo are usually incredibly hard to get hold of after launch unless you want to pay over the odds to a scalper online.
I’d just like to say thanks to Andrew J., that mentioned that the new Tears Of The Kingdom pre-orders had gone live. I took his advice and ordered them as soon as I had read the Inbox.
The last difficult one to get for me was Sephiroth. I did manage to pay retail price for it, but the price skyrocketed after and was never back in stock on Nintendo’s official store.
Nick The Greek
A little late to the party, but I felt that I had to write in about one of the most undeserved sales flops of recent years: Marvel’s Midnight Suns. I liked the sound of the game when it first released but was reluctant to purchase it as I’d not really got on with Firaxis’ XCOM games due to their reliance on randomised outcomes and the irritating fog of war.
I picked it up on sale a few months ago and what can I say, it’s one of the best games I’ve played! I’d heard it described (not by GC) as a deck building card game but, although cards have an important role to play, I’d say the actual gameplay is best described as a juxtaposition between the sublimely logical strategy of Into The Breach (where there are no random outcomes…hurray!) and the involving character interactions and relationship building of the Mass Effect series.
The strategy element is fantastically well done, slowly building up your range of actions and combos as the game progresses, and the relationship building aspects of the game are both well written and well voiced, particularly if you’re a fan of the Marvel films or comics.
If you’re reading this and feel like you might like the game but have passed on it like I did, I’d strongly encourage you to give it a try as it really deserves to be played by more people.
TheMilkybarKidUK (gamertag/Steam ID)
GC: It’s a terrible shame. Not least because of the exodus of staff it caused at Firaxis and the fact that it’ll put other publishers off from making anything similar.
I don’t think anyone is ever going to want to go back and play FIFA 18, or whatever, but still… it’s not good to see these games just be thrown down the memory hole like this. It’s actually kind of creepy.
I am so sick of hearing about The Last Of Us. I wish Naughty Dog would just make a shooter or something and prove they actually like video games. Otherwise they might as well just stick to TV shows.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Sunny, who asks which older games are you now unable to play because they feel too outdated?
The exact age of the game doesn’t matter but what was it exactly that put you off? Was it the graphics, the gameplay, the controls, or something else? Do you find that you cannot play games after a certain point in time or is it all on a case-by-case basis?
Which games do you feel have aged the best and are there any common issues you’ve noticed, in the ones that have not?
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.
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