File under “It ain’t what it used to be:” The sixty dollar game

Image by Flickr user Steve Garfield (CC)
Image by Flickr user Steve Garfield (CC)

With all the recent news of Star Wars: Battlefront and it’s costly DLC, I’ve been thinking about the current price tag of games and how much I don’t think about the current price tag on games. In that I mean that my mindset about buying new console games is as follows:

New games cost $60.

Period.

For as long as I’ve been purchasing games (starting with the Nintendo 64, as with prior systems, most of those game were bought by my parents or rented), games have cost around $60. Sometimes less but rarely more. And never once, that I can recall, did I ever question what I was getting for my $60. I never recall being all that concerned about getting a “full” game or a terrible game or a game-of-the-year candidate. I just wanted a game. And I still don’t do that. If I want a new game, I expect that it’s going to cost me $60 and I don’t question that.

And that make me question myself. These days, does that make me a bad consumer? Because with nearly any other purchases I make, I think about the associated costs. And sometimes, I do more than just think about it. Sometimes, I research it, analysis it, and formulate it in order to make sure that I’m getting the most for my money. Because I like my money and don’t just want to throw it away on nothing.

But I hardly ever do that with games. Take Yoshi’s Woolly World, for example. Though I may have waited until after its reviews came out to purchase it, I did, and I paid $60 for it. I didn’t “run the numbers” to see if the game was really worth it. I didn’t compare it against my previous experiences with other Yoshi games to ensure that I’d enjoy it for the cost. I didn’t watch any extended gameplay videos of it to make sure that my money wasn’t going to waste. I simply wanted the game, and the price for that was $60.

In an earlier and overeager post about Yoshi’s Woolly World, I spoke of how it brought out my negligible completionist tendencies. I’ve now beaten the game, but I’ve not completed it. Well, not completed it as much as I had originally intended, which was to find ALL the Yoshies and flowers in each level. (I did better with the Yoshies than the flowers.) As it tends to go with games, and especially, it seems, platformers, the more difficult things get, the less important all the extras seem. At a certain point, I simply want to make it through harder stages so they could be over with. And I lacked the fortitude in the moment to go back and try again to get anything I missed.

So what in the world does any of that have to do with $60? Well, upon finishing Yoshi’s Woolly World and considering my original goals, I wondered, quite possibly for the first time ever, if I had taken a misstep by purchasing it straight out the gate. Because these days, I mostly wait until a game is several months old (and if at all possible, on sale) before taking the plunge. All told, it only took me a few hours to beat the game, and that initial bout of completionist enthusiasm had waned considerably by the end. Call it laziness if you want, but I’m ready to move on. The purchase was exciting, but now it feels hollow. I don’t want my $60 back, but I do wish that I hadn’t been so flippant about the game in the first place.

Call it gamers’ regret, maybe?

Or maybe a wake-up call, because buying games on impulse can lead to unpleasant situations. And there’s more to it than just buying a new game that you just don’t like in the end. With games receiving media coverage more now than ever before, it’s hard to ignore the fact that $60 doesn’t seem to go as far with games as it once used to. Playing into that could be that, honestly, there’s not been a ton of innovation lately in new (AAA) games. Twenty years ago, I didn’t bat an eyelash at shelling out $60 for Super Mario 2: Yoshi’s Island, because it really was something different; a true departure for the Mario series. I went into buying Yoshi’s Woolly World with that same idea in mind, knowing quite well that the game was something of a retread. I guess I was hoping it was more than that. And it was, graphically anyway, but it some ways it wasn’t. (Still, it’s a fantastic title for the WiiU. If you haven’t bought it but want to, I’d recommend waiting until the price comes down a bit.)


Setting aside the culture of game DLC, add-ons, and expansions, what do you expect to get from a new, sixty dollar game these days?

19 Comments Add yours

  1. It’s a valid point. Back in the day, games pretty much stuck to a formula with content. These days though, there’s all kinds of different games out there from free to play, multiplayer only, open world, etc etc.

    Take a game like The Witcher 3 and Star Wars Battlefront. Two very different experiences and you could easily start a debate between people who think that the price for each shouldn’t be the same. I’ve heard so many comments about how Battlefront doesn’t have enough content to justify a full price tag and then another group absolutely loving the game and having fun.

    It’s a weird day and age, but I do find myself doing more research than I ever have before to make sure I’m going to get my money’s worth out of an experience. Perhaps that’s more tied to being an adult with less time to game than anything else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I like your point there about The Witcher 3 vs. Star Wars: Battlefront. Just based on how those games have been doing in my own household, The Witcher 3 simply feels like the more complete game. That’s not a knock against Battlefront, but when you boil both games down, what you’re left with is a game in which you can battle alone or with friends in the Star Wars universe, and a game in which you can battle, interact with a story, carve out a unique path, explore an array of settings, craft gear, play games, and roam unfettered. Folks are willing to pay $60 for either experience, but making the choice between the two comes down to play a player values most.

      With so little time and so many games to play, doing one’s research really can make all the difference. I need to remember that moving forward! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. renxkyoko says:

    It should be a long one , not Skyrim long, to get my money’s worth. And it shouldn’t be very easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Yeah, game length (and ease) vs. cost is a big issue these days. But the notion that a new, full-priced game should contains a couple dozen hours of worthy and challenging gameplay still reigns supreme. And the longer the game, without it feeling padded by unnecessary sidequests, the better.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a good point, I had not really paid much attention to the fact that all big games go for $60. I can relate to spending that money on a game and then feeling like I didn’t get my money’s worth, or the experience was “hollow”, and yet I never really regret it that much. It’s just part of buying games. That’s how much they cost, and some you won’t end up enjoying that much.

    Of course, with the additional DLC so many games are adding on (even at the launch date), I try to be careful not to purchase the ones that are $80 or $90, because I usually can’t justify paying that much for the additional content!

    Otherwise, I guess it’s nice that prices are so standardized, because I know what I’m getting into and I choose the games that really appeal to me at launch. Other times, I wait for sales. And if a game is really old or I’m really on the fence about it, I will sometimes rent it or buy it used.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      You may have just spawned another blog post with the mention by buying used games! 🙂 That’s another area where I’ve only recently considered the ramifications by buying used vs. buying new. But that’s a whole other rant…

      There does come a point in the gamers’ life where buying new games, the game that you *really* want, at launch just becomes a very natural thing to do, and that’s still despite any criticisms about said game that may have been leaked beforehand. Most folks go in wanting a positive experience from a game anyway, so you may find yourself enjoying a “bad” game because of that mindset. And sure, maybe you try to justify that the $60 was worth it, or maybe you don’t. Guess it’s a good thing that there’s always something else out there to play when things don;t work out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yeah, I’m curious what your thoughts are on buying used games, etc.! I used to never think about it because I just couldn’t afford $60 games when I was in college, but now I am more careful and I like supporting new titles I’m excited about with those full price purchases. But that $60 price tag is too much if I buy more than one game a month, which goes back to your post here. I guess it makes us selective about what we buy!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. cary says:

        So true! Shoot, two new games a month costs the same as one or two trips to the grocery store. Decisions, decisions… 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Dina Farmer says:

    I need to have almost the whole game. I don’t mind a little DLC here and there, but I need to be able to play the game and enjoy it. I don’t want the DLC to be something I have to purchase to make the game feel complete. I want to be able to enjoy the game right out of the box and it needs to be a long game. Longer then the 20 hours some of this $60 games are and then offering over 30 to 40 hours of DLC. It tells me then, that the $60 price is superficial and the game is not worth that price. If that is the case then please lower the price of vanilla games since developers are basically demanding we purchase DLC….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      There just so much to say about the problems with DLC these days, and it’s really unfortunate that offerings of small games with big DLC packages have become the norm, in some cases. The whole thing makes me ignore DLC entirely. Your mention of having “almost the whole game” at launch hearkens back to when DLC was bonus material that served to enhance one’s experience with a game. What exciting times those were, eh? And there’s another key there too…enjoying a game from the start. If you don’t and can’t *enjoy* a game up front, then what’s the point of $60 anyway?

      Like

  5. duckofindeed says:

    I’m really bothered by $60 games. They used to be $50, and I think that was where I drew the line. I grew up with $50 games, so, kind of like you, I accepted that as being the price of games. Anything less was a great deal. Halo 3 for $30? I can’t afford to not get it!

    Just increasing the price by $10 really bothers me. And we don’t seem to get more from our games than we used to. In fact, we often get less because we have to pay even more if we want the full game. Games used to be $50, and they were complete the day you bought them.

    So I definitely put a lot more thought into games than I used to. It needs to be one of two things: really, really good (or part of a series I love, and there is a good chance I will replay it) or good and long. I’ll pay $60 (I’m not happy about it, but I’ll do it) for Pikmin 3 because I love Pikmin. I’ll pay $60 for Lightning Returns because, well, it should be somewhat entertaining, and at least it should take 100 hours to beat, so I’ll get my money’s worth. That’s why I haven’t gotten Yoshi’s Wooly World yet. It looks fun, but it looks similar to Kirby’s Epic Yarn, so do I want to spend that amount of money on a game similar to what I already have? So far, as adorable as the game looks, the answer had been no.

    I know this is getting long, so I’ll end it here: I have started buying older games lately. I just got the Sly Cooper collection for $10, which is a great deal for 3 games. Virtual Console games are also a lot more appealing to me, as well ($8 for Earthbound sounds like a good price to me). It’s the only way I can get more games to play without running out of money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Replay value is a good point, because even if a new game is on the shorter side, if it has a decent amount of replay value, then you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. I’m also likely to spend money on a new game from a series that I know and enjoy. Even if it turns out to be not so great, it doesn’t feel like a bad purchase because it’s part of a large scheme.

      My own drive to get older games has ramped up as well lately. Digital versions of games have their place, but you can find great deals on older new physical games as well. That’s money well spent!

      Like

  6. simpleek says:

    I’m still largely frugal when it comes to buying games when it first comes out of the gate. $60+ is a lot of money to drop for one game. I definitely want the game to be good and packed with enough content to feel pretty good about my purchase. If it doesn’t have any of that, then it’s really not worth spending a lot of money on it when I can wait for a price drop. The last expensive game I bought on release day was Inquisition and that was it since then. As adults, we really have to be sensible and practical with how we spend our money! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      It stinks getting old and becoming practical, doesn’t it? 😉 $60 is no small amount of cash for game, and now that we have to consider that a game might not be “complete” or worse, be broken at the outset, it just adds up on the “don’t buy” side. Unless there’s some overly compelling reason to get a game at launch, I usually wait as well.

      Ah, to be young and foolish again? Maybe not, consider “young” and “cash poor” often went hand in hand.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hatm0nster says:

    “What should we expect from a $60 game?” is kind of a tricky question. The default answer would be a long game, but while length means value in terms of quantity, it doesn’t necessarily equate to value in terms of quality. It’s the same thing with replay value. Replay value is good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the game was good.

    For me, I suppose what I expect for my $60 is a complete game that I enjoyed spending my time with, and want to return to in the future, even if I only go back to it once or twice. For example, I bought a game called “Brutal Legend” a while back. It had its problems, wasn’t all that long, and I only returned to it one time after my initial playthrough, but I still think fondly of it and was glad to have the experience. Same thing with the Tomb Raider reboot in 2013. Those were worth my $60!

    On the other hand, I’m feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse for Destiny:The Taken King. A $40 expansion I bought back in September. I’ve certainly got a lot of time into it, so in that sense I got my money. However, I don’t have those same feelings about it. I haven’t taken away much from it that was memorable, and find myself having written it off and only continue with the hope that Destiny 2 will be better, otherwise I’ll feel like that time and money was wasted. I like the game, still play it, and would still recommend it for what IS actually there, but I can’t help but feel like I should have waited until the expansion was $20 instead of shelling out $40 right away like I did.

    On an unrelated note, if you’re looking for a steal you should go to Epic Game’s website and download Shadow Complex Remastered. The game is like a modern Super Metroid, it was absolutely excellent when it came out on Xbox 360 in 2009, and it’s FREE for PC this month!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Ooo, thanks for the Shadow Complex tip. I heard of it when it originally came out but never got around to checking it out. And free is always good. 🙂

      I like your mention of how one’s fondness for a game plays into it’s price tag. I feel quite the same way about South Park: The Stick of Truth. It’s neither a long nor a complex game, but the ridiculous fun of it is so memorable that I’d never feel like buying it new was a waste. Guess that’s also a big part of why we choose to keep the games that we keep (instead of trading them away).

      Y’know even after writing this post, I really don’t know just what I want from a new game anymore. Length, replayability, fun…those are all keys, but they don’t tell the whole story. There’s so much personal preference when it comes to game that’s there seems to be no one right answer!

      Liked by 1 person

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