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Video Game Boycott: Fair or Fraud?

By X3nocide in Technology
Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 03:59:01 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

Fairplay is asking gamers to boycott purchasing games for the week from December 1st to December 8th. Their hope is to send a message to game publishers that prices are too high. But as highlighted elsewhere, some industry insiders want more hard proof to support claims. Pundits at Fatbabies have not yet commented on the situation.

The FairPlay Campaign

The Fairplay Campaign argues that games are artificially high, to the point of hurting industrial profit. They argue that even though developing a game is expensive, "the cost of development has no bearing whatsoever on retail price." Their argument relies mostly on quotes from people in the video games business. Fairplay quotes veteran developers like Peter Molyneux and Miles Jacobson. [note: Since the publication of the gamesindustrybiz article, FairPlay has removed the Molyneux, presumably at his request.]

Industrial Counter

The gamesindustry.biz article shows a huge amount of journalism by making an effort to contact these people and the investigation is somewhat damning. The Molyneux quote is six years old and taken out of context. There are other quotes from CTW that are taken from articles written by FairPlay organizers. When questioned about the quote both Jacobson and Molyneux argue that the FairPlay campaign argument has no merit and will ignored by the industry. Obviously both sides have some merit here, as Jacobson agrees that prices are somewhat high.

The crux of the matter: Supply Economics

At the bottom of this page one economist sheds light on the mechanics of it all. "Technically speaking, the Fairplay people raise some good points. Fixed costs such as R&D or productive plants shouldn't factor in when determining a company's price strategy." What this means is that profit isn't mostly determined by costs, but by the price times the number of units sold. It becomes a min/max game of "whether a % change in price causes a bigger % change in video game sales." The Fairplay Campaign has no evidence that will convince the suits responsible for the price tag. A boycott will send the message to them that they allready know: people like paying less. Duh. The issue is how many more people would like to pay at a lesser price, and this is something a boycott will not address. An ongoing poll at a video game site indicates that at least almost 50 percent of respondants believe that they'd spend double the money. There's no accounting for who would spend more than 50 double however. Additionally, there's a difference between what people believe they would do and what they will do. The poll would be considered soft evidence, given the methodology and respondant's unrecognized dissonance. Hard evidence would be looking at a game that sold for around half the price of other games and evaluating market performance. Did Serious Sam make more money than other similar games with its lower price point? Unfortunately, this kind of information is guarded jealously by publishers and sold for a tangible profit.

A matter of more than profits?

While video games aren't food, and we'll never see a humanitarian aide package to Africa consisting of Playstations and Square games, its possible that an increase in distrobution may be more desireable to the authors than an increase profits. Many artists hope that their works will reach out to a large number of people and touch them. It may also be a wise long run investment to set a lower price to capture marketshare, if care is taken not to drive yourself into bankruptcy ala dot bomb's. In this case the marketshare would be consumer confidence in your future products. A good example of this going back to the (g)olden days would be the original Dragon Warrior. Thousands of people recieved this game for free and many went on to buy Dragon Warrior 2 when it was released. But publishers rarely are given the oppertunity to reap the benefits of long term thinking, and are quick to point out that Final Fantasy quickly dominated Dragon Warrior upon release.

So, while the Fairplay Campaign does have a good arugment that more people can enjoy the experience of a video game, it comes off as nothing more than a guy who wants cheap games for Christmas. From my realistic perspective, I will boycott the industry for that week. You probably will too, unless you can't avoid importing "Namco's Extremely Big Breasted Volleyball" from Japan. Absouletly nothing of interest comes out that week. This argument alone should crush any hopes of FairPlay sending a message to industry leaders that "there isn't a single reason that games couldn't be sold at 20, or even less."


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Are you going to boycott?
o Yea, I don't play games anyways. 20%
o Yes, there's nothing good coming out anyways, and I like cheap games. 13%
o Yes, games cost too much! 11%
o No, I don't play games but I might pick up a game just for spite. 5%
o No, I absouletey need Realtime Boob-Juggling technology and Inverse Nipplematics! 9%
o No, I don't care for this bunch of whining. 39%

Votes: 137
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Fairplay
o elsewhere
o Fatbabies
o quotes from people in the video games business.
o At the bottom of this page
o An ongoing poll
o Also by X3nocide

Display: Sort:
Video Game Boycott: Fair or Fraud? | 118 comments (90 topical, 28 editorial, 0 hidden)
Great job (none / 0) (#3)
by riceowlguy on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:05:10 PM EST

The one thing I might like to see is some mention of something that was brought up in the article referenced in your second link ("elsewhere") - that of the question of "if we cut prices in half, would people really buy twice the games?"  Or would you even manage to make any new customers who could now afford the games?  My guesses would be no and maybe.  I had a friend's PS2 over the summer.  The only game I bought was FFX, and I never finished it, because I had better things to do.  I might have had more fun playing a game that wasn't so goal-oriented and long-term, but as long as I hadn't finished FFX I felt like it would be ridiculous to spend ANY money on another game.  I'm not really sure about the other issue, i.e. would you get more customers in the first place because the games were 10-20 bucks rather than 20-50?  Market researchers may be the butt of every Dilbertesque joke but they probably know what they're talking about, and if they say no, they're probably right.

"That meant spending the night in the living room with Frank watching over me like some kind of Lovecraftian soul-stealing nightmare creature-Azag-Frank the Blind God of Feet, laughing and drooling from his black throne of madness." -TRASG0

How would it effect the quality? (none / 0) (#5)
by smelialichu on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:20:49 PM EST

If the price of games was reduced to 20, wouldn't there probably be some kind of drop in quality. It would be nice to think that developers just want to put out good games, and I'm sure that many do but they also want money. If someone would buy twice as many games, they could be made half the length, thereby lowering the production costs. It would also solve the problem of whther people really would buy twice as many games, if the games are shorter then you're practically forced to buy more games (unless you want to have to go without any game to play, which some may find difficult).

The thing is though, the public probably wouldn't feel ripped off, the majority would probably keep buying games anyway, especially as they cost so little.

I do believe it would have an effect on games sales, and hopefully any problems I mentioned would go away, or never happen. I'm just not sure we can count on that.

You're missing something (none / 0) (#8)
by X3nocide on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 05:02:20 PM EST

See, the development is a fixed cost. Once its there, it doesn't cost more in development to make five more copies of a game. The marketing department's job to come up with an optimum pricing to make the most money. Basically one we have the product we can make as many as we want. If we can sell five million units at 5 dollars a piece, we'll make more money than selling 20 units at 50 dollars a piece. A lot more. The key is understanding that its not a linear relationship between sales and price. The thing about the length of games currently though is this: its believed that about 5 percent of players actually play a game to completion. Developers would like it if you would beat their game, if only for the credits screen. I'm not sure where the information came from, but its only slowly affecting the market for lengthy games.

[ Parent ]
Short games (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by Cloaked User on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 03:07:41 AM EST

I was unfortunate enough to buy Gunman Chronicles; I saw it at a reasonable price and bought it on impulse, not having read a review.

I completed it the next day, and was left feeling unsatisfied and a little ripped off. The same was true, although to a lesser extent, of Opposing Force - that too I completed in a weekend, but was less disapointed.

Conversely, I remember wondering whether Unreal was ever going to end :-)

I think that if games are shortened too much, people will complain. It's nice to complete a game, but not if it feels like it's only just got started. It would also lead to far more expansion packs and suchlike being released, I think. That could quickly lead to paying more for roughly the same amount of content. Good, if you buy the cheaper first installment, and decide you don't like it, but not so good if you do like it and want the rest.

Then again, I tend to play games to completion, unless they're particularly bad.
"What the fuck do you mean 'Are you inspired to come to work'? Of course I'm not 'inspired'. It's a job for God's sake! The money's enough and the work's not so crap that I leave."
[ Parent ]

1 Question, 2 Comments (4.66 / 3) (#7)
by FortKnox on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 04:58:19 PM EST

Question: What games are coming out that week? If it isn't some seriously groundbreaking games (like UT2003, etc...), it will hardly be noticed.

Comments: I feel this will end up just like T(H)GSB (The Hopefully Great Slashdot Blackout). There are people that hate how much games cost, but the majority of the game buyers won't know about it, and even if they do, it will hardly prevent enough people for video game producers to even notice.
And even if it DID work, it'll end up like the 'ol gas boycotts. People will buy an extra game the week before, then splurge the week after. This makes an average for the 3 weeks the same as they normally would be.

Its a nice thought, but one week of an internet announced boycott isn't getting EA Execs nervous.
Yes, shrubberies are my trade. I am a shrubber. My name is Roger the Shrubber. I arrange, design, and sell shrubberies.
True. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
by steveftoth on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 05:03:41 PM EST

IF they really want to make a dent, they should call for a boycott until next year. like from now until Jan 2003.  That would really show them that they are serious.   As you said, one week is nothing to them.

But since we are all adicted to our video games, it will never happen, now if you'll excuse me I have a town hall to build.

[ Parent ]

It's a great week (none / 0) (#65)
by 90X Double Side on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:31:51 PM EST

According to IGN's release schedule, there are several games with release dates TBA in December, but not one title has a confirmed ship date in the first week of December. We'll have to wait and see what gets scheduled that week, but there aren't really any notworthy games in the December TBA category (examples include "December 2002 - Fisherman's Bait 2003 - Konami - Sports
Simulation"). I honestly don't think the industy would give a damn in every person on earth really didn't buy a game that week.

“Reality is just a convenient measure of complexity”
—Alvy Ray Smith
[ Parent ]
In terms of effect. (none / 0) (#12)
by Inoshiro on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 06:14:25 PM EST

If the prices were too high, they'd sell less -- correct? A non-buy policy will have less effect than perhaps proof that there will be a greater number of sales if the prices were lower. I know that .uk is screwed over game wise (because of classic poor PAL porting, and prices in the range of ~110$ CDN for games I'd pay 60-70$ CDN for), but not buying will probably not have the effect desired.

Prove that the sales are abnormally low considering the populace of gamers, and that imports are abnormally high, and you'll probably see more attention paid to well done, reasonably priced ports (they'll make the money up on volume, after all, if the quality is higher).

[ イノシロ ]
Umm... Buy a new tv. (none / 0) (#103)
by pla on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 01:59:19 PM EST

If UK games have poor PAL and cost twice as much, why not just buy a cheap NTSC TV (yes, they exist for 50Hz... Chile uses 220V/50Hz and NTSC, not to mention that many TVs have 50/60Hz selectable power supplies) and buy games from the US? Sure, the import fees would suck, but I doubt it would come out to literally double the price.

Or, avoid the import fee, and have a friend bring you back a dozen or so games. Hell, my DVD collection grows (roughly) proportionally to how often someone I know visits SE Asia, I don't see why a similar strategy wouldn't work for DVDs.

A world-wide economy has a lot of disadvantages, but it can work *for* you if you look at how to abuse it.

[ Parent ]
A problem with their argument (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by theboz on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 06:18:43 PM EST

There are a lot of "classic" games that sell for $19 for the Playstation 2. I would guess Nintendo and Sony do similar things with games that have been out a little while. There are quite a few good games that sell for that price, as well as PS1 games that are much cheaper that can also be used in a PS2. I have always sorted through the $10 software racks too. I picked up some really decent software that way, including games. I don't know how much cheaper you can get though, but I would agree that it's rediculous for some games to be $50 and up.


That's not charity (none / 0) (#31)
by Malvoisin on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 10:19:10 PM EST

Greatest Hits-priced games have already earned their development costs back several times over.  That $20-25 is almost pure profit.

Most games suck and would not get even as close to breakeven as they do if they had initially been priced at $20.

[ Parent ]

Pure profit? (none / 0) (#67)
by DLWormwood on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 04:20:48 PM EST

That $20-25 is almost pure profit.

For the developer, or the middle men between you and the developer?

Too many people forget that the "profit" a developer (or any manufacturer) sees is a tiny sliver of the final sale price. The rest of the profit is going to distributors, publishers, and retailers: the middlemen. Scott McCloud had an excellent discussion of how middlemen destroyed the comic book market a few years back in one of his "illustrated textbooks."
Those who complain about affect & effect on k5 should be disemvoweled
[ Parent ]

Who cares? (none / 0) (#15)
by Hired Goons on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 06:23:10 PM EST

Music is worse! I mean, have you seen the prices of records lately? New vinyl ain't cheap!
You calling that feature a bug? THWAK
Not much of problem in the first place. (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by explodingheadboy on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 07:24:28 PM EST

Game prices go down rather quickly, I don't see why so many people would complain. Or why the fairplay campaign is even necessary.

Q: If you're paddling upstream in a canoe and a wheel falls off, how many pancakes fit in a doghouse?
A: None! Ice cream doesn't have bones!!!

[*rmg is dying]

One Problem (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by 90X Double Side on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 07:29:06 PM EST

I think the simple problem with the campaign is that for their argument to really be effective, the prices of games would have to have gone up. But back in 1992, a band new, top-shelf console game cost you $45-50, and today it still costs you $45-50. Factor in a lazy guess at inflation and I wold have predicted that games would be selling for 50*1.03^10=$67 by now, so the price has really gone down, which is unsurprising given that they are now distributed on cheaper media. Yes, there were times when games were cheaper, but I really haven't seen much change in the last decade, so I wonder why these people didn't say anything 10 years ago.

The only new development is the few games that come out with "collector's editon" versions for $70; if you don't want the extra stuff, just don't buy it. There are also a few games that are coming out with MSRPs of $60, but I never see them actually having a street price that high. One big development in the last 10 years is that because the industry has grown so much, there is much more competition between game retailers. Whereas 10 years ago you would pay $50 for a game with an MSRP of $50, now you can usually pay $45 for a game with a MSRP of $60, and with the flourishing of the used game market, you could probably have it for $35 if you would wait two weeks for someone to beat it.

The only things that have risen drastically in price are the consoles themselves, and it's hard to campaign to get the companies to lower prices on hardware they're already losing money on.

“Reality is just a convenient measure of complexity”
—Alvy Ray Smith

They did? (none / 0) (#22)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 07:50:17 PM EST

Games cost $45-50 in 1992? Ummm.... No. I seem to remember paying $20-$25 in those days.

Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.

[ Parent ]

Depends on the game (none / 0) (#25)
by 90X Double Side on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 08:18:22 PM EST

I found my sold SquareSoft catalog I got with Secret of Mana, and every SNES game on the sheet costs $49.99, so I can say for sure that in 1993 top-shelf games cost $50. Back then, it was much more common to see some games for $40, but as I said, when you consider inflation prices are still quite good.

“Reality is just a convenient measure of complexity”
—Alvy Ray Smith
[ Parent ]
Oh. *Console* games. (none / 0) (#29)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 09:55:15 PM EST

Actually, yeah - you're right about them. Also, you reminded me of something. I was paying $20-$25 for first run games then - for the PC, Mac and Amiga and I remember looking at how much parents were shelling out for SNES games and being shocked.

I also remember thinking that the price differential boded very ill for PC gamers - and sho' nuff they all cost about the same these days.

I did see some PC games going for the $59 dollar mark recently - but I'm out of that arena now.

Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.

[ Parent ]

Really a non-issue (4.83 / 6) (#23)
by omegadan on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 08:07:59 PM EST

I admit I dont like paying 60$ for the newest game, but for the ammount of entertainment you get they are still a bargin. When I was playing lots of games (in the early 90's) The "target" playing time of an adventure game was supposed to be 30 - 35 hours (infact Lucas Arts would list the average playing time on the box). When you consider the game price at that time was 30 - 40$, that about 1$ per hour of entertainment ...

More recently I bought black and white and its expansion pack, and the game logs EXACTLY how much time you spend in the game, I got bored around 130 hours... If you consider I payed 50$ for the game and 20$ for the expansion pack, its still about 1$ per hour of entertainment ...

If you wanna compare that to a movie, they seem to cost between 8 - 10$, and generously assuming the movie is 3 hours long, thats about 3$/hour for entertainment ... so in some sense an expensive game is a better "value" then a movie.

I dont think you touched the real problem though. Paying 60$ for a *great* game isn't the problem; Paying 60$ for a horrible game is. Great games are worth far more then their price, and crappy games are worth nothing. My favorite games are worth far more money to *me* then I payed for them. I can't even imagine life without Grim Fandango. A friend of mine said it best we had just finished the game together and she said, "Now that Grim is over, I feel ... remorse, sadness that its over. Like somebody died." Thats how good the game is.

High game prices reduces game promiscuity (to coin a phrase). I'll buy a 20$ "classic" ps2 game just to see if I like it (classic ps2 series games are older games reissued for 20$). But a 60$ game, someone will have to tell me if its good first. Im going to make the assumption that most people are like that.

So, what we really should have learned is that GOOD games should cost more, and bad games should cost less. But that would be sort of like admitting you made a shitty game huh? cant let that happen :) So they all cost the same ...

Lastly there are game life-cycle issues. When Grim Fandango came out I skipped bio 2 lab to get the game the first day it was out. I paid 30$ for it and it came with some extra goodies (soundtrack CD and some stupid booklet). The game built up ALOT of steam (and rightly so, its one of the best games ever made), and I recall going back to the same store two months later and it was 50$ with NO extras. (it was also well timed to happen just about christmas when game demand must be highest)

Why? Because the game was a new concept and they needed to "seed" the market with people like me who were willing to take a risk on the game! Lucas arts also did this with Monkey Island 4, offering "signed" collectable boxes to people who placed pre-orders. Now in contrast, titles that are expected to be a hit start right out at their target price.

Lastly, this is all coming to an end anyways. On sites like half.com and ebay, people are selling games they are tired of. You can pick up last years games for 30$, and the years before that for 20$. Older games like ps1 games go for 5 - 10$. The companies are having to compete with their previous sales. Interestingly some *spectacular* games are more expensive in death then in life. I point you towards the ps1 title "Castlevania Symphonies of the Night" which is an absolutley gorgeous game. The 20$ greatest hits version (reissue) now sells for 30 - 50$ and the original issue is selling for 40 - 60$!

(everything I said here pretty much goes for other kinds of media as well, movies, books, and cds to name a few).

Religion is a gateway psychosis. - Dave Foley

Why boycotts never work. (5.00 / 2) (#24)
by mingofmongo on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 08:08:43 PM EST

Not enough people care. You can make an argument that Nike is responsible for enourmous suffering in third world countries where their shoes are made by hiddeously underpaid people, many of them children. People boycott, and nothing happens.

for a boycott to work, you have to shut down a noticable amount of consumtion. The 0.01% percent of the people who call for boycotts, and care enough to follow through, arent enough to matter, and often aren't the ones who buy the stuff anyway.

This is just saber-rattleing with pocket-knives. If the price of video games bugs you enough, don't just stop buying them for a month, and hope it makes a point. Get a new hobby. Or maybe learn to code, and write your own games and charge what you like for them. Boycotts are just a way for boycotters to give themselves the illusion that they matter.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion

What's Nike supposed to do? (3.00 / 1) (#95)
by sowellfan on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 02:12:03 AM EST

I can see how it looks bad for Nike to pay people low wages, but I'll bet those people are willing to fight for those jobs. Is Nike supposed to come into a country where the average take-home pay is 20/month and then offer everybody $4/hour? They would be the only employer offering that, I'm sure, and it could even make it uneconomical for Nike to do business there. Then there's the whole other matter of which 0.1% of the population gets these magic jobs where they live like a chieftain, or warlord, or whatever. I'd like for the standard of peoples living to be brought up, but it can't happen by bureaucratic decisions (I wish it could, but it doesn't work). There will always be unintended consequences.

[ Parent ]
Nike ethics weren't my point, but... (none / 0) (#111)
by mingofmongo on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 08:05:55 PM EST

They could choose to pay more.
They could choose to make something else
They could choose to discontinue business
They could decide that any jobs are good jobs and continue as they are.
They could build an entirely automated factory
They could make many choices I haven't even begun to think of.

If I were running Nike, and I believed I were contributing to the suffering in the world (I am not sure of this, I was earlier commenting on the perceptions of boycotters) I might choose to pack it in, or go into a diferent business rather than continue the course as charted. There is no law that says a company has to stay in business.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

From my point of view (4.50 / 2) (#27)
by Talez on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 08:57:54 PM EST

On the 1st July, 2000, our government introduced a Goods and Services Tax to replace the ageing Wholesale Sales Tax. One effect of this was that software went from 0% tax to 10% tax and taxes on hardware dropped from 32% and 22% to the 10% mark.

One of the things that amazed me was that despite the new 10% tax slug being put on software, they never actually managed to break the $100 barrier over here (1 USD = 2 AUD). Prices were pretty much the same as they always were. Not to mention the price of consoles dropped quite a bit too.

Only now has the price broken the $100 barrier with some xbox games going on sale next week with listed RRPs of $110. While discounting will bring this down to about the $100-105 mark, this is the first time that I know of where the RRP has been that high. It's a disappointment to see the cap broken but I'm sure the market will either get used to it or stop paying those prices for the games.

I do think that most distributors have done a good job of trying to cap the prices of games where they are. I also applaud them for releasing a relatively huge amount of back catalogue titles on budget labels. The fact that I can pick up Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 on budget labels for USD10 and USD15 respectively is a huge plus for the games industry's reputation.

At any rate, I'm happy with the way things are now. If I want a game and can't afford it I'll wait and pick it up on a budget label in a year or so. If I can't wait I'll borrow my friend's copy, get bored of it, then maybe buy it a year later if I still want to play it.

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est

Ha ha! Wait til I get me check (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by Lai Lai Boy on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 09:31:30 PM EST

Screw that, as soon as I get my damn paycheck I'm getting Mario, Animal Crossing, and Kingdom Hearts.

Additionally, we've got it easy (or easier); the Japanese have to pay at least 20 dollars more than Americans on most new games.

[Posted from Mozilla Firebird]

Huh? (none / 0) (#33)
by DarkZero on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 10:36:40 PM EST

Most new Japanese games cost about ¥6800, which, according to current currency exchange rates, is about $55 USD.

[ Parent ]
Kingdom Hearts, or I Got You Babe? (none / 0) (#72)
by pin0cchio on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 10:53:29 AM EST

Kingdom Hearts is full of Disney licensed characters. Every dollar you spend on Disney merchandise is a dollar that funds Bono Act II in 2018, which will extend copyright terms from life + 70 years to life + 100 years in USA and EU.

For every dollar I give to a major motion picture studio, I give a dollar to Eldred Legal Defense Fund or Electronic Frontier Foundation.

[ Parent ]
You know, there's an easy solution. (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 10:03:04 PM EST

Just go to half.com>.

These days, I buy most of my PS2 games there, and sell lots of old PS and PS2 games. You don't get them the day they come out, but you don't generally have to wait long before some fanatic crashes, burns and sells his copy.

Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.

A better idea. (4.57 / 7) (#34)
by Arkayne on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 11:00:31 PM EST

How about someone organize a protest over the fact that 99% of games released are UNFINISHED when they ship. When was the last time you bought a game that didn't require you to immediately go to the official website and download a patch for it to be playable, and then return to that site multiple times in the future for even more patches. It's grown to the stage of ridiculousness. I've long ago gotten into the habit of searching for a patch while the game installs for the first time.

I'd gladly pay $80 (the adverage price up here in Canada for a game's first month on the shelves) for a game that wasn't buggy as hell.

In the past six months, I've purchased Warcraft 3, Return to Wolfenstein, Medal of Honor, Pools of Radiance, Neverwinter Nights, Morrowind, Civilization 3 and Grand Theft Auto 3 - all of which would have been unplayable for one reason or another if I didn't possess an internet connection and downloaded the lastest patch. And frankly, I consider myself lucky that the majority of these games work at all - I'm hearing nothing but horror stories about Battlefield 1942 for example, where for 10 to 20% of those who purchase it simply cannot play it at all. Considering that software developers do not grant returns for software unplayable due to system conflicts/issues only defective cds, purchasing games has literally become a gamble - no matter the price

so why do you keep buying them? (3.00 / 2) (#56)
by danmermel on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:06:21 AM EST

[ Parent ]
In my very limited experience... (4.00 / 1) (#74)
by Rhamadanth on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 11:26:19 AM EST

Okay, I can only speak for NWN, and even then it's not like I was a big part of it (I joined BioWare in January to work on another project, but ended up writing 3 lines of code for the scripting system. Not enough to get me in the credits. :) But the game was in development for 5 years. The codebase is HUGE. We had patches rolling out right away because we were somewhat forced to ship RIGHT when we did, because people were getting ansy.

The public always wants releases to be timely, but perfect. It's hard, especially with big products. Game developers want to release good, fun games. That's really what we're about. At BioWare, people HONESTLY want to release the best game that money can buy. We're proud when people enjoy our games. Even I am, and I don't have a game credit yet.

Don't ask me who sets the game prices; I don't know. But since I've started working at a games company, I've realized how much hard, hard work goes into making these things, and I don't even look at the price when buying games anymore. I'll buy UT2K3 any day now, and enjoy every penny. :)
-- The /bin/truth is out there.
[ Parent ]

Backwards. (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by Arkayne on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 09:31:12 PM EST

"The public always wants releases to be timely, but perfect. It's hard, especially with big products. Game developers want to release good, fun games."

I think you have that backwards. It's the game companies that rush out the games before they're ready - "timely". The public might whine about pushed back dates, but that's the limit of their power. ("They pushed back Baldur's Gate 3 for another 2 months damnit, that's it I'm not buying it!" Right, that'll happen.) Because of the competition with other gaming houses, it's a rush to get the game out the door before the next guy, or to do it at the right time, like Christmas. Personally, I have no problem waiting for an extra 6 months for a better product.

I realize that some of it is simply the result of free market competition, and I accept that. But if I purchase a car, I shouldn't have to immediately drive it from the dealers to the mechanics, along with everyone else who bought one. And if that car doesn't run when I get it home, I should be able to return it.

[ Parent ]

Yep. (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by The Vulture on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 06:28:23 AM EST

I worked at Sega, and while I was in Third Party Dreamcast support, I knew full well the horror stories of what happened to both Third Party, and First Party (Sega) titles.

Those guys in First Party had it made, some of the bugs waived in their games are things that we'd NEVER let a third-party publisher ship with.  They were never crashes, but for a platform where patches are not available, they still shipped with some serious problems.  In some cases, if the problems were severe enough, they were "patched" on the next pressing of the discs.

There's a bunch of reasons why games are rushed, but in all actuality, most of them have to do with contracts.  Other times, it could be obligations to the publisher (if you're the programming company).  For example, if I'm a sofrware publisher, and I purchase ad space in the flyer for a store (say, Foo, for example), and I state that a particular title (say Bar) will be available on a particular date, then if my game isn't in stores by that date, Foo can sue me.  These "penalties" as they have been called can run in the millions of dollars.

I won't get into specific details, but I can think of two titles off the top of my head that had major problems.  One of them was a first party title, had some problems with networking (I believe that it's PPPoE support wasn't quite working properly) the other was a WinCE title, and it's VMU (Visual Memory Unit) support was so flaky that sometimes you could get the game into an endless loop of trying to detect it.

-- Joe

[ Parent ]

Stuart Campbell, the angry fucker. (4.66 / 9) (#36)
by it certainly is on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 11:31:14 PM EST

The man behind this campaign is Stuart Campbell, a Scot who has made a career out of vitriol and attitude. Despite the fact that most sensible people would agree with him, Stuart regularly pisses people off purely through the delivery of his arguments. He should really have been an editor at adequacy.org.

Stuart has certain pet topics:
  • He doesn't like geeky Amiga owners, just the "hardcore" ones who play games. This is because he's technically incompetent.
  • Stuart thinks computer games should cost about a tenner, like they did for the C64. The fact that entire factories of game-slaves create games these days and not cheeky chappies in their bedrooms may hint as to why they don't cost 10 any more. But Stuart has made his mind up. The market (i.e. him) will not stand to pay more than 15 quid, despite the fact that millions of games punters clearly do pay more than 15 quid. Even for atrocious rubbish like "Who wants to be a millionaire?".
  • Stuart likes playing MAME. So do I. But he likes it so much, that he started the C.L.E.A.R. campaign (Campaign to Leave Emulation Alone + R) because he was upset that his favourite ROM sites had been shut by the nasty old IDSA.
Given these facts, it is not exactly unexpected that Stuart has launched another public campaign with his name conspicuously missing from it. My guess is that the "Fairplay Committee" consists of Stuart Campbell and that big hall at the end of Enter The Dragon. In accordance with quantum physics, Stuart is both right and completely wrong at the same time, in superposition.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

Potential sales (none / 0) (#45)
by squigly on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 05:34:07 AM EST

The fact that entire factories of game-slaves create games these days and not cheeky chappies in their bedrooms may hint as to why they don't cost £10 any more.

Developent costs may have gone up, but so have potential sales.  The Amiga sold a total of something like 5 million units.  I can't remember how many the playstation sold, but I believe it is at least 5 times this figure.  

This means that the cost of development per customer (assuming level of competition is the same) is a fifth of the cost as that for the Amiga.  

[ Parent ]

Yeah, well cigarettes are overpriced too (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by kholmes on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:32:41 AM EST

But that is because people are addicted to them. Try boycotting cigarettes for a week and watch the tobacco companies laugh their hineys at you.

Same applies to games.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.

Preordering (4.90 / 10) (#38)
by Perianwyr on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:36:01 AM EST

You know, I would be all behind this if he just wanted to end preordering.

Preordering of games is the devil. It's like sending a letter to your game company of choice that reads like this:

Dear Game Company,

I will buy whatever broken, unplayable thing you jam into a box that says NHL Ultima Vacation Privateer Shadowbane Sims Quest Online Tycoon 2005 Gold and Beyond, as long as the cover art is cute, there are screenshots on Gamespot, and several misspelled "U GOT 2 GET THIS GAME NOW HOLY SHIT ROXOR" posts on stratics by fanboys who haven't played the game yet. Hell, you can just put blank CDRs in there with a label for said game, and I'll pay 10 bucks to my retailer to buy the damn thing, and just patiently wait for you to finish making the game. It's like money in the bank for everyone, except me, but not as if I matter at all.

Love and kisses.

Preordering says you care not for the quality of a game, your frustration at purchasing a game which damn well doesn't work on your machine is irrelevant, and that you're a Great Customer!

Don't pre-order. Ever. Wait two months, watch messageboards. See what's fucked up. You'll thank yourself later. I currently enjoy a four to six month lag-time on game purchases, and haven't had a game that doesn't work on my machine for a long time. It also cuts down on spurious upgrade purchases.

Wait 4 years... (none / 0) (#52)
by jmzero on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 10:19:19 AM EST

The game works pretty well by then, you only buy the good games, and they're cheap (both the game and the computer to run it).

I just went through StarCraft a couple months ago - good game.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

But what if you want the golden game pak? <n/t& (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by Fon2d2 on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 01:47:18 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Agreed. (none / 0) (#85)
by Shren on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 05:09:28 AM EST

I've never understood the preordering phenomena. Probably it's because the value of video games on the shelf deteroriate faster than anything not sold in the meat department. They want you to buy the game while it's at full price, which is a period of time that gets shorter as the years go on.

Now I wish that video games bred, like cows. Like, I put Deus Ex and Star Control II in a room to breed and I get some wild star-spanning conspiracy game. Or a four way cross of Tetris, Everquest, Bejeweled, and Counterstrike to breed the most addictive substance ever.

[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#92)
by LukeyBoy on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 08:27:54 PM EST

There are some games that I would pre-order and be absolutely sure that they would provide me with way too many hours of playtime. Tony Hawk 4 and GTA3: Vice City come to mind immediately.

And I would pre-order them if I didn't live in Canada; as it is, they both come out on the 29th, and I'll be bouncing from store to store trying to find them - and then promptly locking myself in my apartment for the weekend :-)

[ Parent ]

My take on preordering (none / 0) (#107)
by steveftoth on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 03:40:37 PM EST

if you really need a game soooo much  that you must preorder it, maybe you should rethink your prioritys. I mean is a game so important that you are willing to buy it sight unseen? All you have before the game comes out are some screenshots and maybe a demo trailer.  Most of the time it's of the unfinished product and depending on the game company they maight screw it up before it's released.

[ Parent ]
Not this guy. (none / 0) (#109)
by LukeyBoy on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 04:43:41 PM EST

I take gaming fairly seriously, and subscribe to GameSpot for a piddly five bucks a month. For each game coming up, there's usually a ton of clips from the demo builds that the reviewers receive. To me it's a perfect system.

In my above GTA3 example, I already know that gameplay will rule, since it's identical to the first (or rather third) game. After seeing the dozen or so movies from GameSpot I know for a fact it looks even better than the vanilla GTA3.

[ Parent ]

buy? (1.00 / 2) (#41)
by dinu on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 04:36:16 AM EST

I don't buy them anyway! ;)

Quite frankly, I don't believe Fairplay's figures (5.00 / 3) (#43)
by squigly on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 05:15:26 AM EST

40p to produce a game doesn't sound right.  This includes cost of pressing a CD, a box, a manual, and - in the case of consoles - royalties to console manufacturer as well as cost of delivery.  

This cost is actually quite crucial.  If it is actually somewhere in the £5-10 region.  Some calculations I did show that for a 25% price cut to be viable, sales would have to go up by 40-50%.  For a 50% price cut, sales would have to go up by 133-200%

Of course, this increase in sales might happen.  It's more likely to happen over a longer time where people are  more inclined to buy a consoile realising that they can actually afford the games.

We have to also consider the problems of reducing prices - Some people expect low prices to equate to lower quality.  There is a risk that lowering the price will actually reduce sales.  

Now then, this boycott.

In my opinion, this will not work.  The publishers will put the reduction in sales down to a boycott, and simple reap the rewards the following week.  

The real way to make a difference is to arrange for a large number of people to wait until the price goes down, and never pay more than £30 for a game.  

Games industry opinion (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by squigly on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 05:41:08 AM EST


Some notable quotes:

"The quote from me that appears on the FairPlay site was given in 1996," Molyneux told GamesIndustry.biz yesterday afternoon, "when software had just increased in price - and in actual fact led to the production of some amazing games

it would seem that the much of the rhetoric of the FairPlay campaign is based on some completely unfounded assertions that have never been backed up by facts or research. "It's Fair Play's core belief that if the price of games were cut in half, sales would - at least - double," the site boldly proclaims at one point, although no evidence is ever presented to support this claim.

bass-ackwards (5.00 / 3) (#49)
by tps12 on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 06:50:29 AM EST

A little economics can be a dangerous thing. The problem with the argument that pricing is somehow "wrong" because prices don't equal marginal costs is that the law of supply and demand in a free market only predicts prices, it doesn't dictate them. It's meant to describe observed data. No industry or firm sets prices by drawing a graph of supply vs. demand. The point of the "invisible hand" is that it's invisible.

The only thing that can be concluded from the fact that prices are not as predicted is that the video game market is not a perfect free market. Which shouldn't be surprising, since few markets are. But you can't just tell the companies to "be more free" or you'll boycott. Individual game companies are agents in the market as well, and have little more influence than individual consumers on market realities. As for the possiblity of conspiracy, my feeling is that the game industry is highly competitive, with lots of smaller, struggling game makers. There's no industry group comparable to the RIAA or MPAA. Price fixing just doesn't seem feasible in this environment.

In this, as in all else,—
Y'r obd't s'v't.

IDSA (3.00 / 1) (#73)
by pin0cchio on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 11:23:22 AM EST

[In the video game business, t]here's no industry group comparable to the RIAA or MPAA.

Here's the web site of No Industry Group Dot Com.

[ Parent ]
"comparable" (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by tps12 on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 11:37:46 AM EST

My point wasn't that no industry association existed. AFACS, every American industry has an group representing it. The MPAA and the RIAA stand out because of their unusually great influence in Congress, which allows them to be protected by anti-competitive laws, making price fixing feasible and possible. An industry with many competing firms and no protectionist government regulation is much less likely to engage in anti-competitive behavior, simply because they have more to gain by putting out good products at low prices.

In this, as in all else,—
Y'r obd't s'v't.
[ Parent ]
AFACS ? (none / 0) (#98)
by uXs on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 07:58:33 AM EST

What's AFACS ?

What our ancestors would really be thinking, if they were alive today, is: "Why is it so dark in here?" -- (Terry Pratchett, Pyramids)
[ Parent ]
as far as I can see (en tea) (none / 0) (#99)
by tps12 on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 08:31:16 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Boycott? (5.00 / 4) (#50)
by snugglebunny on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 08:47:35 AM EST

Do they really think that waiting seven days before buying counts as boycotting the product?

Video Game Prices (4.40 / 5) (#57)
by snowlion on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:14:17 AM EST

As a former paid game programmer, I have two things to note:
  1. Publishers pick up a lot of games. 90% are trash and destined for the bargain bin- they are expenses for the publisher, and it is made up for in hits.
  2. Game magazines write that piracy hurts game programmers and artists, and that more piracy means fewer games. They are lying. Game programmers and artists pirate all the time and we could care less if you pirate. I can't speak for everyone, and especially not for the game programmers that are also business owners, but other than that, we don't care. At all.
Thank you! {:)}=

Map Your Thoughts
Two points. (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by tkatchev on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 04:46:21 PM EST

As another games developer, I'd like to make a comment -- where I live, we don't even get royalties based on the number of games that is sold -- rather, when a product is released, we simply sell it to the publisher for a flat fee. For us, this is a good thing -- otherwise, we'd have to pay back the publisher our money when a game doesn't become popular. This would probably drive our company under quite quickly.

Bottom line is, this is a publisher's market. Developers exist only insofar as they facilitate the publisher's money-making plans.

Also, personal piracy (i.e. when you copy your neighbor's game to a CD-R) is alrgely irrelevant. What does matter is the professional piracy cartel. (Think Chinese pirate sweatshops, etc.) These people are very annoying because they flood the market with cheap, very low-quality releases, making any sort of normal marketing strategy very difficult to implement.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Move to Central Asia... (4.33 / 3) (#58)
by Meatbomb on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 11:48:08 AM EST

...and you will never buy another game again. All the games are free here.

Honestly, piracy is endemic here, the norm. If I tried to ask at a computer store to buy a real version of a game, they would look at me as if I were insane. As indeed I would be.

As I understand it, the situation is the same throughout most of Asia and E. Europe. It is only you suckers in the West who actually buy the things.

No, excuse that last comment - my sincere thanks to all PC gamers in N.Amer. and W.Europe for underwriting my hobby!


Good News for Liberal Democracy!

A one week boycott ... whatever. (4.33 / 3) (#60)
by Bad Mojo on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 12:35:52 PM EST

If you think a video game costs too much, don't buy it.

If you follow this rule every day you look at a new game you want to buy, you will help lower the cost of games. If you're a moron, and you resent that you put down full price on a game the day it came out because you're a weak minded simpleton, then by all means, boycott the gaming industry for a week. You'll be back the next week buying the latest game for whatever the sticker says.

Be a smart consumer 100% of the time and you'll do yourself, the market, and the economy a favor.

-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

Heh, Molyneux (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by ubu on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 01:26:19 PM EST

Peter Molyneux should talk. I paid $39.95 too much for Black & White, the Second Shittiest Game Evar.


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
What's the first? (n/t) (none / 0) (#91)
by LukeyBoy on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 08:25:02 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Lords of Magic (n/t) (none / 0) (#118)
by ubu on Wed Oct 09, 2002 at 06:52:55 PM EST


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
This is so stupid (2.00 / 3) (#64)
by Fon2d2 on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:03:49 PM EST

A boycott to protest the price of video games?
You have to be kidding.
I don't even want to argue on this one.

Buy used games, morons! (3.83 / 6) (#66)
by Mr Incorrigible on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 02:50:48 PM EST

Jesus H. Motherloving Christ on a chopped and channelled Harley-Davidson with a bottle of vodka in each hand and Mary Fucking Magdalene riding pillion! If people think that new videogames are too damned expensive, then buy used copies!! I can't believe that they don't sell games second-hand in England, not when I was able to get tapes of Iron Maiden's Live At Donington second-hand for five quid. This sounds like something an idiot Frenchman thought up...

I know I'm a cheeky bastard. My lady tells me so.

No-resale countries (4.00 / 1) (#77)
by pin0cchio on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 11:45:45 AM EST

If people think that new videogames are too damned expensive, then buy used copies!!

Some people live in a country (such as Japan) without a right of resale (USA law). In those countries, the used game and movie stores apparently pay a royalty to the copyright owner for each unit sold.

[ Parent ]
second-hand games (none / 0) (#113)
by Yer Mom on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 08:26:37 AM EST

The UK isn't one of them, though.

I generally wait for the budget release if I can't get a game second-hand (it does backfire occasionally if a game doesn't go to budget - still looking for Shanghai: Second Dynasty...)
Smoke crack. Worship Satan. Admin Unix.
[ Parent ]

I found myself suprisingly persuaded (4.75 / 4) (#69)
by Shren on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 04:08:48 AM EST

I was caught off-guard by the fairplay website. It was suprisingly persuasive. Like most "whaaa, we want cheaper foo" arguments, it really doesn't seem to hold up. Let me deal with some of the main points here.

Look at Microsoft - earlier this year, they released the new Xbox console at 300, insisting that it was a fair price and couldn't be sold any cheaper. Consumers, though, refused to buy it, and Microsoft swiftly slashed the price, first to 200, and then to 160.

Microsoft is selling the XBox at a loss because they can make it up on licensing the games. If you look at this point it's actually *against* fairplay. When the XBox sells the console at below manufacturing costs, it has to make up the difference on the price of the games.

Albums can cost tens of millions of pounds to record, but you can still buy them for 11. Movies can cost hundreds of millions of pounds to make, but you can still see them for 5 or buy them for 15.

Albums and movies have on advantage that video games seem to lack. _The_Matrix_ is still selling copies. Hell, Jackson's _Thriller_ is still selling copies. But try and find a copy of a video game older than a year or two. I just recently got a playstation II, and after playing Silent Hill II, I want to play the first one. I can't find it. Not to rent, not to buy, not new, not used. Not anywhere - it's not on a shelf I can reach. A game has to make money fast or it won't at all - which jacks up the price. A movie might not break a profit for years (Consider _The_Last_Action_Hero_) and still make money - video games have about a month, maybe two, and if they haven't sold megacopies by then, then they get swept off the shelves for the next best thing. Everything but the very best sellers get swept off the shelves in half a year, regardless. (Except for an odd little computer store in Hyde Park, Cincinnati, USA, where the game section is practically like a time warp with dust. It's like 5 years ago they decided to have a games section, then both they and the customers forgot about it.)

These are the only two issues that I really care to get into. I find the whole "video games are expensive" thing odd, however. I always thought they were quite cheap. If I pay 7 dollars to go see a movie, I get about 2 hours of entertainment, at about 3.50 an hour of entertainment. Compare Silent Hill II, which I think I paid 40 dollars for. My save game time lists 13:30 from start to finish, but there are some deaths and unsaved exploring (working on puzzles, mostly) that pushes my playtime towards 20 hours. 40 dollars... 20 hours... that's 2 dollars per hour of entertainment, a better per hour deal. Let's not even talk about games like Final Fantasy X, which I paid 50 dollars for but racked up over a hundred hours of playtime on. 50 cents an hour. You can't see a movie for 50 cents an hour without slipping in the back door.

Ultimately, I agree with Gabe and Tycho on this one. Bread, circuses, and cheap video games.

Older games. (none / 0) (#90)
by LukeyBoy on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 08:15:26 PM EST

Wow, not finding Silent Hill I? Find a better video game store. I've bought a ton of moderately-older Playstation One games - Final Fantasy Chronicles/Anthology/Tactics, Parasite Eve I/II... I even found a copy of X-COM (which I enjoyed many hours with on my PC). What store are you shopping at?

[ Parent ]
Used, overstocked, cheap (none / 0) (#104)
by pla on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 02:04:39 PM EST

But try and find a copy of a video game older than a year or two.

Try looking in the newspaper classifieds (people selling their collection to upgrade to the latest-and-greatest game system) and the bargain-bin at all your local video stores.

As a bonus, you pay 1/4th the price (or less) of the game compared to its original price.

Of course, that one quote aside, what I just said actually *supports* the rest of your post, so... ;-)

[ Parent ]
Whine whine whine indeed... (4.33 / 3) (#70)
by the hermit on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 07:46:37 AM EST

Considering how much work goes into a game, $40 is a good price for most games. Consider that something as overpriced as Photoshop goes for over $300 and is probably ALOT less difficult to engineer.

And, consider that going out to a good dinner cost > $40 and you only get to enjoy it for an hour, whereas with most games, you can enjoy them for at least a few days or weeks!

And, consider that the kind of software that people pirate the most are games, so most of the people who play them are downloading pirated copies and not really buying them.

Stop complaining! What's the fscking problem?

--the hermit

The cost of a good dinner (none / 0) (#75)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 11:32:29 AM EST

Well, I rarely pay $40 per person for dinner - but you make a good point. I usually try to estimate the "real cost" of entertainment by dividing the cost by the number of hours I'll spend playing it. By that standard, good video games are a bargain.

Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.

[ Parent ]

Dinner (none / 0) (#110)
by bored on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 07:14:20 PM EST

The problem with viewing dinner as 'entertainment' is that you are accually bringing your own entertainment. In fact, once you get to know the other person just as much fun can be had in a well setup kitchen sharing in the process of making dinner. Then when you eat it there is a sense of accomplishment.

[ Parent ]
What... Share... My Kitchen!?!? (none / 0) (#112)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 11:33:07 PM EST

Never works. Two people might agree on sex. They might agree on parenting. They might even agree on housecleaning. But no two people can ever work as equales together in the kitchen! The very idea!

In our house, we take turns. :-P

Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.

[ Parent ]

The R in R&D stands for Research (none / 0) (#78)
by pin0cchio on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 11:50:36 AM EST

Consider that something as overpriced as Photoshop goes for over $300 and is probably ALOT less difficult to engineer.

Oh really? Photoshop Elements is only $100 (the price of two games). Photoshop Full Version, on the other hand, required a lot of research into the characteristics of both the human visual system and the CMYK process color system, and that's reflected in the software patent royalties that push up the price per seat.

[ Parent ]
Re: The R in R&D... (none / 0) (#81)
by the hermit on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 02:01:34 PM EST

Well, so they did the research once in the first version. Why do they have to keep charging $300? And why do they have to keep charging $120 or more for an upgrade? IMO, most of their upgrades don't offer enough new functionality, etc, to warrant the price of the upgrade. It's just ridiculous.

-the hermit

[ Parent ]

Demand curve (none / 0) (#108)
by pin0cchio on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 04:13:27 PM EST

Why do they have to keep charging $300?

Because the patents on the methods invented in the first version's research phase haven't run out yet.

Bottom line: Because people in the print industry are willing to pay three figures USD per seat. Monopolists such as patent and copyright owners derive their supply curve from the marginal revenue curve, which is in turn derived from the demand curve.

[ Parent ]
Abandonware (none / 0) (#79)
by pin0cchio on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 11:52:46 AM EST

consider that the kind of software that people pirate the most are games

The local software stores don't sell the games that I want to play (Contra, Mega Man 1 through 6, Kid Icarus, etc) because they're out of print. Are out-of-print games pirated more than in-print games?

[ Parent ]
Demand drives price, not costs (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by squigly on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 11:53:13 AM EST

Considering how much work goes into a game, $40 is a good price for most games. Consider that something as overpriced as Photoshop goes for over $300 and is probably ALOT less difficult to engineer.

The work that goes into it doesn't affect the end price.  In fact it's the other way round.  If they felt that a game that cost $10 000 to make could be sold to a million people at $40 a time, then that's the price that they would charge.

And, consider that going out to a good dinner cost > $40 and you only get to enjoy it for an hour, whereas with most games, you can enjoy them for at least a few days or weeks!

The price of a good dinner has nothing to do with it.  If the cost of a good dinner was $1, games would still be $40

And, consider that the kind of software that people pirate the most are games, so most of the people who play them are downloading pirated copies and not really buying them.

Reducing the costs would reduce piracy or at least it certainly wouldn't increase it.  There are a number of inconveniences to pirated games, such as the risk of it not running at all, the absense of instructions, a risk of a virus, and the time it takes to get hold of one.  Once the inconvenience of pirating a game exceeds the cost of a new one, people will stop pirating.

Stop complaining! What's the fscking problem?

And the problem is that people believe that it would benefit everybody if games prices dropped, but the industry is not listening to them.  If prices halved, fairplay believes that sales would almost double.  This means that the consumers (including Fairplay's supporters) benefit by getting to buy more games at the same price.  The publishers benefit because they get substantially more profit due to sales more than doubling.

To summarise, publishers are being idiots.  We are all suffering as a result.  That is the problem

[ Parent ]

Check your math (none / 0) (#102)
by mrtaz65 on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 01:10:08 PM EST

You said "If prices halved, fairplay believes that sales would almost double", hence a loss of profit, not an increase. Using wildly incorrect made-up numbers: A cartridge costs me $2 to make (parts and labor, no R&D). I sell 100 at $50 a pop. 50*100-(100*2)=$4800 profit Ok, I slash price to $25 and almost double sales: 25*199-(199*2)=$4577 Hmm, looks like I made less money, good plan.

[ Parent ]
Ooops. (none / 0) (#105)
by squigly on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 02:10:40 PM EST

Errrm... Yes.  I was ..ummm... waiting for someone to spot that one.

It was a typing mistake rather than a mathematical one.  I meant they beleived that sales would more than double.

[ Parent ]

Vote with your dollars (4.00 / 2) (#71)
by cgenman on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 08:44:28 AM EST

Publishing companies in the gaming industry are surprisingly responsive to percieved consumer demand.  Five years ago, all playstation games were 50 dollars.  Then, one year Crash Bandicoot 1 was selling along side of Crash Bandicoot 2 for five dollars less, and sold nearly as many copies.  Many companies started dropping prices on older games, soon after Sony started a "best hits" line of older games at 20 dollars.  New games still sell for 50 dollars, but last years Christmas presents to myself can be bought now for 20 dollars (or less if you find them used).  This kind of movement is what pushes prices down, not willing publishing companies to open up 10 dollar lines (Which some of them have, to poor receptions).  One game sold at 10 dollars will not suddenly convince 3 times as many people to buy videogames...  That kind of volume can only come with breaking down the stigma attached to gaming, bringing new people into the fold, and lowering both the financial cost and the time commitment associated with gaming.

Video Games have a pathetically small shelf life, and that is due to the interaction of two factors: Public desire for the latest / greatest and sequal hype.  Why buy Sonic Adventure 1 when Sonic Adventure 2 is already out with twice as many characters and 2 times the fun?  It has long been said that many companies are shooting long - term profitability in the foot by relying on sequals, but they keep doing it because they really help short - term profitability.  On the other hand, Puzzle Fighter is the perfect example of a game with a shelf life.  It never had a sequel or an update, but it was a great game and it can be bought to this very day, for the reasonable price of 20 dollars.  At sequal crased Capcom, that must have one of the best profit to capital ratios in their stable.  And to show what kind of creativity can come from doing spin-offs and not sequals, Puzzle Fighter begat a totally different type of game, Gem Fighter, which begat the totally different and very popular Power Stone.  

Show publishers that last years titles are as relevant as this years by making purchasing decisions based around classics rather than hype.  Buy used rather than new, and buy less expensive games rather than the hottest titles.  If you can't pick up Capcom VS SNK for less than fifty, what about that copy of Virtua Fighter 4 at forty?  So long as price doesn't factor into our decisions as purchasers, Publishers will know they can keep it at whatever level will best keep them afloat.

Will I be participating in the boycott and not buying games that week?  Chances are I will be holding off my Christmas purchasing decisions until the January / February bonanza of used titles...  I tend to think that will do more to aim the industry in the right direction anyway.

-Chris Canfield
- This Sig is a mnemonic device designed to allow you to recognize this author in the future. This is only a device.

As someone who considers themselves a gamer... (4.75 / 4) (#82)
by cwalsh on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 05:36:36 PM EST

...I feel that FairPlay's argument is weak. I mean, just this week I bought Tekken 4 (a fighting game, for those not in the know. Great gameplay, lickable graphics :) for ~$80 CDN. By FairPlay's argument, this game should cost around $40, because the mark-up is unfair. However, I'm thinking that the people behind this movement haven't been buying videogames for more than 12 months, because that's about how long it usually takes for the game to become a "greatest hit" or a "best seller", or just bargain bin material.

Tekken 4 will eventually go for $29.99 CDN as it becomes a PS2 "Greatest Hit". Most games do this, it is some sort of law, I think.

Now you may ask me why I paid $80 for it now instead of waiting? Its because I wanted to play the game now. I sometimes wait for a game to drop in price, but I do know the risks involved in being an early adopter. Hell, I paid nearly $90 for Privateer in '93, and you can get it now for about $10. I might be insane, but I think the big reason is that a game has enough intrinsic value that people will pay for.

I think this is the point FairPlay is missing. Videogames are a luxury, and people are willing to spend gobs of money on them NOW in order to experience the latest fun NOW. However, if you're willing to suck it up and wait 6 months to a year, Tekken 4 is still going to be just as much fun, just cheaper.


Overpriced, but... (3.00 / 1) (#84)
by dirvish on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 02:58:34 AM EST

I agree that the games are overpriced but a small part of that is the fact that the game systems are underpriced. Microsoft currently loses money on each XBox sale so they have to make it up in game sales. I am sure it is a similar story for Nintendo and Sega.

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
Wrong. (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by Kintanon on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 01:48:55 AM EST

Nintendo and Sony both make a profit on each game console sold. (The cost to produce the console is less than the cost it is sold for, not factoring in R&D for that console)
Sony has already, as of last year, recouped all of the expenses associated with development of the PS2 and is now paying ony manufacturing cost and rolling R&D into their next console.
Nintendo as expected to finish recouping their development cost early this year but I don't know if they made it or not.
Sega no longer makes consoles, though they are one of the ones who did sell consoles for a loss and try to make it up on games.
Microsoft is *I believe* selling for a loss on their consoles hoping to take over the market. They will find that this is a bad strategy unless you have the games to bring users to your system. The current advantage that Microsoft has in this realm is that it is easier to program from the Xbox than for the PS2 or the Gamecube. I doubt this small advantage will be enough to steal any major marketshare from Sony or Nintendo, but they will probably find their own niche somewhere.


[ Parent ]

thanks (none / 0) (#106)
by dirvish on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 03:35:45 PM EST

Wow, thanks for the info.

BTW, I meant Sony, not Sega. I realize that Sega isn't making consoles anymore.

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
[ Parent ]
Cost of making video games going up (none / 0) (#87)
by sludge on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 12:12:03 PM EST

The cost of making video games is going up. Is there any doubt with regards to this? Creating the amount of content that allows for an acceptable amount of gameplay is continually taking longer than it did before. If you look at it, every major company has a response to this fact. But on top of that, I hope the current prices guarantee that we won't have to bump the pricing again in the future.
Hiring in the Vancouver, British Columbia area
Whatever. (4.00 / 1) (#93)
by Arkayne on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 10:34:45 PM EST

Although I agree that the costs of manufacturing games has gone up, the sales of those games as gone up even more. You would think that increased sales would LOWER the costs, not increase them.

Back in the day, buying a brand new game for my Commodore 64c cost roughly the same amount as it costs to purchase a game now.

"2001 U.S. sales of computer and video games grew 7.9 percent year-on-year to $6.35 billion, the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA), the trade group for the U.S. computer and video game industry, announced today."

That's billion, with a B, for one year in the US alone.

[ Parent ]

No... (4.00 / 1) (#114)
by verb on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 01:42:51 PM EST

The cost of *manufacturing* a game has not gone up. Rather, the cost of *producing* a game has gone up. That's the point.

If everyone expects a cutting edge 3D engine, lavish environments that make Myst look sparse, and a gripping multi-branch narrative, well, hell yes. It's going to take a lot of time to create a game, a lot of work, and a lot of cash up-front.

Text-adventure games sure aren't selling. Top-down shooters aren't sweeping the world by storm... Some companies, like Popcap, are making a good run with tetis-esque puzzlers and twitch games. But content costs money, and most gamers are demanding a lot more content these days.

This makes charging 50% less a huge risk. Perhaps it would pay off, but the 'fixed cost' of production -- the cash you will lose, forever and ever, if the game does not break even -- has grown quite a bit since Ye Olden Days of game programming.


[ Parent ]
UK Campaign (none / 0) (#89)
by dammitallgoodnamesgone on Sun Oct 06, 2002 at 07:09:43 PM EST

I realise that the campaign actually _wants_ to just drop down the price of games, but... you say "hey, $40 is a good price for a game" - fair enough, but in the UK that'll be 40, for a worse - on the consoles - version - I'm thinking of you FFX. Right now, the UK is the most expensive place in the world to buy Games and Consoles, so it'd be nice to pay US prices on games.

Console prices aren't that expensive (none / 0) (#100)
by DodgyGeezer on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 10:58:23 AM EST

Amazon.co.uk is selling the PS2 for £159.99.  That is the after taxes (inclusive of VAT) price.  Amazon.com is selling the PS2 for $199.99, which is the pre-tax price.

So, remove the 17.5% VAT (if that's what it is these days) and you're looking at £136.17.  Now look up the up exchange rate at ft.com.  It's currently at 1.5524, so that puts a comparitve price on the US version of the PS2 at £128.83.  That's hardly a huge difference, eh?

The product is roughly the same price in the UK and the US, depending on the exchange rates of the day.  Few places in the US have sales taxes as high as the UK.  HM Customs and Excise will apply the appropriate duties if you try to import it, so no difference buying from the US on that score.  What does make a difference is that GDP per capita is higher in the US, so the PS2 *feels* cheaper (is this what economists called purchase power parity?).

Games also seem to follow the same pattern.  So instead of whining about things being more expensive in the UK, why not look at the real issue?  Start lobbying your MP for tax cuts.  Of course, it's not going to happen without a administrative change as the Blair government is finding it increasingly difficult to keep control of the public purse.

[ Parent ]

I pay what it's worth (4.50 / 2) (#101)
by tgibbs on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 12:53:58 PM EST

The price I am willing to pay for a game depends on only one thing--how much it is worth to me. If the developers are brilliant enough to produce a game for a dime that is worth $50 to me, and are pocketing the rest, more power to 'em. If games were cheaper, I might buy a few more games--games that I currently pass up (or wait for the price to drop) or just rent, because they aren't worth the asking price to me. But not a lot more, because I only have so much time--and there are enough games that are worth $50 to me so that I don't really have much time to spend on the ones that aren't. A good game will typically give me at least 50 hours of entertainment--about $1/hour. That's competitive with most other commercial-free entertainments. Movies cost more than that at Blockbuster, never mind at the theater. And plays and concerts are even more expensive. Videogames seem like a pretty good bargain.

I intensely disagree. Games are cheap. (4.00 / 1) (#115)
by haflinger on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 01:56:51 PM EST

At least, they are now.

Now, see, I remember way back in the '80s <wheeze>…

Back then, you'd go buy a game for $100 and beat it in a week. Also back then, you could go see a movie for $2. Thus, a game cost 50 movies, and yet only gave you the enjoyment duration of maybe 6 or 7 times the length. Also, games back them were primitive, and did not have such things as voice actors and the like. And now, of course, it costs about $10 or so to go to see a movie.

Now, let's look at some of the games I've played in the last couple years. (I don't buy a lot of games. They obey Sturgeon's Law.)

  • Deus Ex - Played for about 2 months. Cost me $70 (I think). Better than most movies, in terms of quality. That's about the price of 7 movies, and probably about 150 times as much pleasure.
  • SMAC - I don't know how long I've played this. A conservative estimate is in the low four figures in total number of hours. It cost me $50 I think.
  • Q2 - Not counting multiplayer, the single-player I think originally took me about a month and a half. I wasn't playing it that often though, so probably 100 hours or thereabouts. So now we're looking at 30 movies at least, and the price was about $50 again I think. Factor in multiplayer and it gets absurd really quick.
See the point? Games are now much, much cheaper than movies. I theorize that this is because the MPAA bought Congress. :)

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
$100 in the 80's??? (none / 0) (#116)
by nne3jxc on Wed Oct 09, 2002 at 10:09:51 AM EST

Are you talking about dollars other than US? My recollection is that $29.99 was a "usual" price. Applications however, WERE $100 or more -- especially the "biggies" like Lotus 1-2-3 and MS Excel.
I had a Sinclair, a few Commodores, an Apple II, a Sega Genesis and an IBM PC during that decade and I don't remember paying anywhere near $100US for a game. (Towards the end of the decade, prices were pushing up to $40+.) Dollar-wise games are more expensive now, with the average PC and console games going for about $50.
Now, I suppose you can argue that a $30 game in 1983 was more expensive than a $50 game in 2002, and it may be so -- but I'll leave that argument to the economists.

[ Parent ]
Well, Canadian dollars. (none / 0) (#117)
by haflinger on Wed Oct 09, 2002 at 04:07:42 PM EST

Back in the '80s, though, they were worth 80 cents American, roughly.

However, outside the US, games cost a lot more. This is before FTA, and before games being manufactured locally. So all our games were basically being imported from California, getting whacked with tariffs, and then marked up by retail.

I have to admit, though, I didn't pay $100 for a game back then either. :)

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

Video Game Boycott: Fair or Fraud? | 118 comments (90 topical, 28 editorial, 0 hidden)
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