Video Games – A Matter of Pricing

A picture of Tracer from Overwatch, a game priced at $60 upon release.
How much are certain games worth to you?

How much is a game truly worth? That’s a question I asked myself pretty often. Pricing a video game is very much different than a movie or music album. Yes, we know the standard pricing for a video game is $60, but not every game holds equal value and sometimes I struggle with that. 

Why I Struggle With Video Game Pricing

I always look at video games from my perspective. I don’t receive games for free, I pay for them with hard earned money. Not only that but I have important priorities to spend my money on. So, I have to be particular about which games are worth my dollar and which are not.

In a previous article, I’ve discussed how I was pretty-much-done buying games day one, and this struggle ties into that. For example, I waited almost 6 months to buy Overwatch. While multiplayer games hold more value for my dollar because of its replay value, something in my heart wasn’t ready to pay $60 for this game. I ended up paying $35 for Overwatch but I haven’t played it consistently. While I like multiplayer games, I’m more into story driven single player games. For me, $35 dollars is the sweet spot.

No Man's Sky header, a video game whose pricing did not match it's quality.
No Man’s Sky, a video game whose pricing didn’t match its quality.

How Much Should a Game be Priced at?

That’s a tricky question. Sometimes a game like Overwatch might be justified in selling for $60. It’s a multiplayer game with constant updates, creating plenty of replay value. Then again, it also has microtransactions, which has always bothered me when you have a full priced game. It becomes murky for me how multiplayer games should be priced. My general feelings are that it should either be $60 with a ton of content packaged in or free-to-play with microtransactions, never both.

Pricing becomes clearer to me when you have other types of games. For example, No Man’s Sky may have overhyped and mislead its audience but if it were priced at $20 -$30, it might have been received less backlash. The truth is that No Mans Sky should have taken Minecraft’s approach by releasing something simple and building upon it over time. Instead, Hello Games promised an ambitious game that wasn’t worth the dollar it sold for.

The biggest genre I have a problem with when it comes to pricing are fighting game. There are only three fighting game series worth $60 to me – Super Smash Bros., Mortal Kombat and Injustice. The one thing that they all have in common is the amount of content available to the player. Many fighting games believe they can skate by on their roster and online multiplayer modes. However, what value does that hold to players who want to do more than play with their friends? At least with games like Mortal Kombat and Injustice, there is a detailed story mode, unlockables, several standalone modes and more. Most fighting games are barebones and that just isn’t worth my money.

In the end, gaming is such a unique industry.  Indie games are creative but often fleeting, deserving the $15-$20 price point. If a single player game is less than 6 hours, $30 is more approachable than full price. Other games need more content and replayability to be worth a full $60. Games need to be looked at on a case by case base. Until then, I’m still going to be a little picky about what I buy.


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