Adrian Chmielarz, co-founder of People Can Fly and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter developer The Astronauts, thinks that a $60 price tag for most games is, in 2014, “a little insane,” he told GamesIndustry International.
“The saying in the industry right now is, ‘If you want to sell a game for $60, to the player it has to feel like $200,’ Chmielarz told GamesIndustry.“Bulletstorm was a $60 game for $60. And these days, $60 for a game sounds basically crazy, when there are literally hundreds of high quality games out there for a much smaller price—even on console. In 2014, $60 for a game is a little insane.”
According to Chmielarz, part of the problem is the formulaic nature of triple-A game development, and how developers try to justify the $60 price point by overstuffing games with content to that amounts to little more than check boxes being ticked off. It’s an inefficiency not shared by other forms of entertainment media—films, books, even music, for example. Risk (price) is low, and reward (enjoyment) is more likely. When price/risk is too high for videogames, players are more likely to avoid it altogether than. Pony up $12 or $15 for Transformers 4: Age of Extinction and come out of it feeling all the more stupider, though, and all you’ve lost is a handful of change and two hours of your life as opposed to something closer to $100 and 10, 20, 30 hours of your time.
“There’s a necessity to add filler in AAA games, whether it be collectibles or one more wave of enemies,” said Chmielarz. “It’s unfortunate, and it’s also proof that the world is insane. Because you have players demanding that games are long, but then you look at the data and see that not even half of those people see even half of the game. There’s clearly something wrong there, right? Seventy or 80 percent of people never finish the game. That’s insanity, right?
“I think that’s connected to the price, and there we go again. Lower prices would allow us to stop thinking about filler for our games, and start focusing on making the experience just right. You have to live with the fact that some players will complain no matter what, but I think that when your game is tight, and the story you want to tell is told exactly the way you want, I think the effect is way more powerful than anyone complaining they didn’t get 100 hours of entertainment for their €20 [roughly $27].”