Tobold's Blog
Friday, May 03, 2013
Anyone still paying full price for games?

I got an e-mail today from Steam that one of the games on my wish list was on sale. Tomb Raider was available at half price less than two months after release. In a market like this, is anybody still paying full price for his PC games?
People who can't wait and have to have the title at release, I'd imagine.
My last full-price title was Diablo III, exactly one year ago, purchased for a whoopping 59€.

Then I completely stopped spending money for videogames, unless I get great deals on Steam.
I almost always payed full price. But then, I only bought roughly ~30 games in my entire life. I don't care at all about how much money this hobby costs - but I absolutely care about buying games instead of .. distractions.
I'll pay full price on Steam for a quality game in a flash. I want that company to keep making them. Bioshock Infitnite, Ni No Kuni and Tomb Raider are the most recent examples.
Sometimes I will pay full price, but it's usually for indie games that have a full price of less than $15.
I pay full price to play a game with friends or when I want to support the developper. But I also look for sales and deals when available. I haven't pirated a game in a few years instead those are the games I'll buy cheap. Also humble bundles are awesome.
Yes if it is below 10 euro. I am getting more and more bored from AAA and think they just don't offer enough value for the asking price. Or in case of Assassin's Creed ||| don't offer enough value to even pirate it for free.

Last major games that I bought came from AMD never settle bundle - Tomb Rider and Bioshock. But I purchased the codes from the cards owners.

I'm ashamed to say that I almost always pay full price. I often pre-order games and TV shows more than half a year before release as well.

I feel like an abomination.
From time to time. I bought Bioshock Infinite at full price, I think MW3 was the last one before that.
Well, for TV shows and console games like Ni No Kuni prices go down much slower than for PC games, so I tend to pay full price for those as well.
I pay full price about as often as I go see a movie in the theater vs catching it at home. Which is about 10% of the time. Most often it has to do with the online content. If I want to play the game online, I usually get it early so I can play when everyone else is playing and have a better experience.
I have paid "full price" for some indie games that were less than €20 to start with. I haven't spent more than €40 on a game in over five years.

Most recent splurge - my wife bought me Bioshock Infinite (retail) for €34. Ground breaking game by the way. Strongly recommended.
This year? I bought Bioshock Infinite full price (albeit with some store credit locally). Bought almost everything else at a decent discount, except for Crysis 3 and Dead Space 3, and I'm still kicking myself for both because one month after they released EA started throwing sales on both out to 30-50% off in various spots, so if I'd just been patient I would have gotten a much better deal.

Even buying on day one with places like Green Man that offer decent discounts day of release there's no excuse to be paying full price.
You are probably bored of me saying this but a full price AAA blockbuster today costs the same as an Amiga or Atari ST game twenty years ago.

With inflation accounted for the modern game is ridiculously cheap even at full price.

That said I only buy certain games new and take advantage of the discounts you can usually receive. At launch Bioshock Infinite was 23GBP on Green Man Gaming and that included free copies of Bioshock 1,2 and Xcom.

Like most readers I only buy at launch for games I am particularly interested in. I think it is worth it to support the Dev, avoid some spoilers and enjoy playing the game at the same time as everyone else. Much like why we prefer to watch sports live instead of a delayed show and why kids always want that must have xmas toy that all their friends are getting too. It ain't as much fun getting it months later in a sale when everyone else has already moved on to the next hyped up thing.

I am sure those that have studied marketing can explain the phenomenon better than I.
I uhm still pay full price for WoW expansions...
I understand the value of playing at the same time as everyone else, but there is also the advantage of getting it later in a patched and bug-fixed form!

It depends on the game and whether you are interested in being part of a community centred around it, IMO
Yeah, I'm daft enough to be paying the day one price... sometimes. Tomb Raider would've been one of those, but I had very little faith in it, and only found out after reviews that it was actually probably pretty good, but by then I'd blown all my disposable games money on an overseas holiday, and it'll take some amount of time before I'm caught back up on the day one impulse purchase behaviour again.

(After all, there are so many things to pick up now! Blood dragon! Anodyne! Leviathan Warships! Mars War Lo--DON'T JUDGE ME)
I'm paying full price for Eve - 500 million isk per month.
I do. I prefer to buy a limited edition and have to buy it first day. But I don't buy many games, maybe 1-2 per month. I know that I wont buy game full price if its digital release.
I must not be buying much, most months I dont buy any. But my mean is skewed heavily by bundles and steam sales.
While I'm working on a service that combines alerts for game discounts from all online shops (Steam, Amazon, etc.), I think the long-term model will be subscriptions: Basically Spotify for games. Though it might be another 10 years until we see this.
Never ceases to amaze me just how much people sit down, get out a pen & paper and start number crunching and making in depth decisions as to whether they should purchase a 25GBP game or wait 3 months and buy it for 15GBP.

It is all taken so seriously as if it were a decision over a mortgage or something. The 10GBP difference is obviously very important to them.


Then they put their pen & paper in the drawer, put on their loud shirt and head into the centre of town for the evening where they urinate and vomit 80GBP up the wall on drinks, kebabs, club entry and taxi's.

The next day they can't even remember anything from the night before and have nothing to show for it aside from a lost wallet, broken cellphone, head ache and a nasty rash.

Rinse and repeat the following weekend.

Me? Well I just say "hey I like the look of that, here have 25GBP, gimme now". It is 2GBP per hour of fun which is almost unmatchable.

I suppose the point I am making is that if people were equally as concerned about saving 10GBP in other aspects of life I suspect that their life would grind to a halt and they wouldn't do anything or go anywhere! Saving 10GBP by depriving yourself of something for 3 months is not really something to get smug about. 11p per day saved but if you were waking down the street and saw a 20p coin on the floor you would be too embarrassed to stop and pick it up!

Although having been stung by the nVidia issues on Tomb Raider I can see the advantages of waiting sometimes even if the problem was fixed a couple of months before the sale.
Basically only if it is some kind of multiplayer game. Otherwise, I still have way too many unplayed single player games I bought on sale.
@Woody - Pointing out games cost the same today as they did two decades ago may be accurate, but you seem to think that is a good thing, not a bad one. Video gaming was a niche market 20 years ago. Today current gen consoles are in over half of all US households, with similar numbers in the UK. That's nearly 100 million consoles in just those three countries. Twenty years ago there was neither the market nor the competition there is today. So the fact that games still cost the same as they did back in the early years of gaming isn't admirable, it's highway robbery. The fact that a game such as Bioshock Infinite has sold to less than 5% of the possible market is strong evidence that the gaming industry is overcharging for their products.

It's also asinine to conclude that the people paying attention to how much they spend on gaming are the same people blowing their money on things like clubbing with no concern for that. This isn't to say the person you described doesn't exist, but the average gamer is 30 and the average 30 year old is not the person you described.

Things like cars and computers cost way less today than they did when they were relatively new on the market. The fact that the gaming industry hasn't changed their business model since the beginning is, in my opinion, the reason why piracy is so rampant and models like Steam are so successful.

What was the budget for Bioshock Infinite?

What was the budget for Turrican?

Now compare those figures with the fact that in real terms I paid some where between two and three times the price for the latter.

Also as you correctly point out, the average gamer is a lot older now. I had to buy the latter on a weekly wage of 5GBP from delivering news papers and was an average gamer back then.

Today I am still in the average gamer demographic and yet with a full time salary in an established career I only pay a half to a third of the price for my games.

Sure I could whine about other costs in my life but those are lifestyle choices. If I choose to spend money on foreign holidays, dishwashers, children, a house in an upmarket suburb etc etc then that is my problem.

That isn't a problem with the gaming industry overcharging. Clearly they are not given the figures I asked you for at the start and given that many companies struggle to turn a profit.

The issue is not whether I spend 15GBP more for a game once every two months. Instead I should be looking at where the rest of my salary goes (or my career failure) if I am experiencing such poverty that I have to pirate AAA games.
The last 3 games I bought at release day were Fallout 3 (2008), GTA 4 (2008) and Skyrim (2011) so it works out to less than 1 game per year for me. And it's not because of high price, but somehow most upcoming titles are just not exciting enough for me to get them at release.

Estimated budget for BI - $200 million
Estimated budget for Iron Man 3 - $200 million

I just watched IM3 3D yesterday for $7. I'll be able to buy a copy on Blu-ray in a few months for about $30. Budgets do not dictate pricing.

You threw out a bunch of strawman arguments while ignoring my two basic points.

1) As competition and market saturation increase, consumer prices go down. Video games do not follow this trend.

2) Despite being classified as a major "success", Bioshock Infinite has sold to less than 5% of its available market. In fact it's not even projected to sell to more than 5% of its available market. If you include PC sales/PC available market we're talking less than 1%. This is extremely strong evidence that the price of the product is far too expensive for the majority of its consumers.

Before you go off on another poverty rant, let me be clear: I'm not saying "far too expensive" in the sense that they can't afford it, I'm saying it in the sense that they don't think it is worth it. Which is why you see so many gamers buying used at places like GameStop and waiting for sales on places like Steam.

I'm just waiting for the major producers in gaming (other than Steam that is) to realize you don't need to charge $60 for a AAA game in order to make money. 100 million+ consoles out there an you're happy when your game sells 5 million copies? A nice person would call you dense.
KillerGameDeals said: "Spotify for games."

Happens already in the casual games market. You can subscribe to a 'Fun Pass' at GameHouse that lets you play any of their games for a month.
This comment has been removed by the author.
"Things like cars and computers cost way less today than they did when they were relatively new on the market."

Original Model T Ford was less than $1000.
>>>Original Model T Ford was less than $1000.

Which were built 20 or so years after four wheel combustible engine cars were invented. They were also the cheapest cars on the market at the time at about 1/3 of the price of other cars. Oh, and $1000 then is roughly $23,000 today. I can buy a Kia today for about $14,000 or about 60% of cost of a Model T when it first came out.

I answered your first point - the point is absolutely wrong and I proved that to be the case. Video games are in real terms the cheapest they have ever been whilst development costs are the highest they have ever been. They have never been more competitively priced.

The second point is utterly irrelevant and meaningless as a measure of whether the pricing is set at the optimum point.

Your first comparison between Iron Man 3 and Bioshock and the conclusions you draw are so highly flawed that it is not practical for me to give you what would amount to a business studies text book written on this phone.

But as you like talking about irrelevant and meaningless figures, why don't you tell us the percentage of DVD player owners that will buy Iron Man 3 and what amusing conclusions about its pricing that we can draw from that.

I am afraid that you sound like yet another copyright infringer clutching at straws attempting to find justification. You have become too focused on these numbers relating to the percentage of the install base purchasing the product without understanding the flaws associated with it.
"Which were built 20 or so years after four wheel combustible engine cars were invented."

As opposed to the Amiga games which were referenced prior, which came out 45 years after video games were invented in 1947? 20 years is less than 45 years, btw.

"I can buy a Kia today for about $14,000 or about 60% of cost of a Model T when it first came out."

Yes, and AAA computer games now are about 60% of the cost that computer games were 20 years ago, adjusting for inflation. 60% is the same as 60%, btw.
LOL, I should have read to the last post and saved myself 5 minutes looking up cumulative inflation indexes!
The last game I purchased from a brick & mortar was probably Fallout 3, which came in a really cool metal lunchbox. I generally wait for the Steam Sale before purchasing any new titles.
Having said that, I also purchase a lot of titles I probably would not have, if they were not on sale.
There are a slew of games in my library I have not even downloaded yet.
Woody & Gerry

I swear I googled the topic before posting and found two separate instances stating games prices averaged $30-$40 20 years ago. This supported my interpretation of what Woody stated about games costing the same now as they did twenty years ago (I interpreted it as "adjusted for inflation"). I honestly don't know what I searched as I can't duplicate my original results. I was obviously wrong and feel stupid for it.

I still believe games are too expensive, which I think the success of the used gaming and "fire sale" Steam model, in conjunction with the high rate of PC gaming piracy strongly supports. People obviously want to play games and go out of their way to do it more cheaply.

Woody - You can dismiss my arguments as "piracy justification" if you want. I *am* an unapologetic pirate and have admitted as much on here numerous times. I think piracy serves a purpose, but that is an entirely different discussion for an entirely different time and one I'm sure we'd never agree on. Funny thing is, I don't pirate video games. I've been a console gamer my whole life up until about 5 years ago and have never modded my consoles to play pirated games. I was then introduced to WoW and played that religiously up until this latest expansion. In my last few years of PC gaming I have pirated exactly *one* game (NBA 2K13), which was so good it quickly became part of my Steam collection. I own dozens of games on Steam I've yet to even download and install, let alone play. Believe it or don't, I really don't care, but it's the truth.

I do think it's highly telling that you'll spend the time to detail how I'm wrong on something you can prove but simply dismissive on something you can't. Calling it irrelevant, meaningless and highly flawed doesn't just automatically make it so. Of course I know the IM3/BI comparison isn't perfectly parallel. That doesn't mean you can't pull useful information from it.
@Locke: "I do think it's highly telling that you'll spend the time to detail how I'm wrong on something you can prove but simply dismissive on something you can't."

Well, it's not highly telling, that's incredibly normal. If I posted two arguments, the first that the boiling point of water is 100 celsius regardless of elevation/pressure, and the second that the spiritual influence of glimmering Nabboshamps jumps the raggedy edge of Loomdis; then people would post a detailed explanation of why the first argument was wrong, and be simply dismissive of the second.

There are many explanations as to why people would be dismissive of one of your arguments. However, in this case, they're being dismissive because it's Nabboshampy.

"Of course I know the IM3/BI comparison isn't perfectly parallel. That doesn't mean you can't pull useful information from it."

Yes, I'm sure I could. But you haven't. You haven't provided install/purchase data for both sides, which makes your comparison unfinished and completely worthless--you're comparing apples to an empty box painted orange. Movies take 2 hours to watch, games take many times that to finish, so even if you had the data for both sides, one would expect install % and price to reflect this difference. I fully believe that I could pull useful data from that comparison (after filling the orange box with some oranges), and that this data would show that the products are priced appropriately to maximize profit, given their differences.

Woody - You can dismiss my arguments as "piracy justification" if you want."

The reason why he said that you sound like an unrepentant pirate, as if that makes your argument invalid, is that to him, it does. If proper pricing to him means "priced to maximize profit", and to you a more Marxist "priced to maximize economic utility and fairness", then your argument is wrong before you even begin, viewed from his perspective. You say that piracy justification is another argument entirely, which is true. What you've failed to realize is that if you come to different conclusions on that argument, and/or fail to explicitly have it but have different conclusions previously reached, then you can't productively have this discussion at all. You're racing on different tracks.
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