It is no secret that gaming is an expensive hobby. To begin with, you need a several-hundred dollar gaming console or PC, a controller or two, a TV or monitor (for competitive gamers) to hook all of that up to and then, and only then, one can finally plunk down another sixty-plus dollars for the right to play the latest game. But what we are arguing today is not whether gaming is a waste of money – as someone who has devoted a fair amount of her life to playing games I would never argue such a thing, but rather if the price point handed down to us by major video game publishers is fair or not.
Once upon a time, before the internet era and the advent of DLC, once you bought a game that was it. Games were expensive, often with prices in excess of eighty dollars during the SNES-Genesis era, but the industry was also not what it is today. There was no method of distributing games besides the usual brick and mortar stores and perhaps the occasional mail order operation, meaning that there was very little in the way of choice. Sure, you could go to a different store but you’d be buying the same game that was manufactured in the same place on the same clunky cartridge.
Because there was so little competition, and with generally only two major consoles to choose from with only rare multi-platform releases, you stuck to one or the other and gave your business to whomever you chose to support your console of choice. So, with an almost captive audience, game companies could really charge whatever they wanted.
Times have changed; however, with three major consoles, several minor consoles in the works, a variety of handhelds, and a thriving Indie Gaming and PC community built upon the back of distribution platforms like Steam. Consumers have a greater choice of who to support with their hard earned money then ever before. Yet even in the face of the ever increasing prevalence of digital distribution as a viable business model, prices have yet to come down even to the slightest degree. A new console title will still likely cost you more then fifty dollars just as they did twenty years ago. This would be less of a problem if we only bought a game once, but now, with DLC being as big a business as it is, gamers are expected to pay for minor things that likely should have been, and, some especially disheartening cases, actually are in the game already.
While I firmly believe that DLC is by no means the bane of all gamers world wide, the fact remains that it makes the gaming experience a more expensive one then ever before. It is no wonder that some gamers, such this fellow who was expose on Reddit, was selling burned copies of a game on the cheap, have rebelled against a system they see as taking advantage of consumers?
So in all, I believe that while gaming is not a right, there is something criminally unfair about the practices of many video game publishers. Things like charging the same price for downloadable games as physical copies and piling on tons upon tons of extraneous DLC, which often pushes the price of the “complete” version of some games into triple digit range, hurts consumer confidence and drives people from the medium as a whole. I’m not saying games should be free, but it couldn’t hurt to nickle and dime us as a user base just a little bit less. I think we can all agree on that.
Are games too expensive? Is DLC killing the industry? Let us know what you think in the comments, or on Twitter @APGNation!