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Game Pricing Model Changes vs. Quality at Launch


AkronsWitness

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The last GTA I played was Vice City and couldn't be happier that GTA6 is seemingly going back there for its next decade long release. This got me thinking about a quote from Rockstar games about the finances in relation to a games playability. They mentioned that a games entertainment should come with a price-per-hour model.

Hearing this initially had me worried. If GTA opts for a pay per hour pricing model....whoof. However after reading, I think what Rockstar is trying to say is that massive open world games offer a lot more hours of playability because there is so much more content compared to game with a fixed ending. MMO type games that you play for years, or games like RedDead/GTA which are seemingly never-ending that you can dump 1k+ hours into. Because of this, he feels that these types of games should be more than just $70 for potentially 500-2k hours of entertainment. I don't know what form that comes in, if its making GTA6 cost $100 at launch for the base game or if that means its going to be a monthly subscription service of something like $10/mo. to play like some MMO's are.

Either way, I will counter this idea by saying games, especially AAA games, have been cheeks for years now with botched launched after botched launch. They are all half baked upon release, redundant with copy/paste style from its previous version and bugged to all hell. It often takes a game 6 mo. after launch just for it to finally be in its intended form (looking at you Battlefield, Cyberpunk, Diablo). This likely stems from greedy development companies who want to release a new game to make money on each year (Madden, 2k, COD) so instead of rebuilding each game from the ground up--they copy/paste design assets and dont do nearly enough playtesting, making for a terrible game at launch. However, as gamers we still have to pay the full dollar amount for the game regardless if its trash at launch or not and often never coming back to a game months later after it has been patched. ( I personally just request refunds from Steam).

To quote Adam Sandler in Mr. Deeds; "Okay, you can have more money for playing better, but if you dont play good can we pay you less? Doesnt seem very fair to me."

I understand developers have a hard job and its a tight needle to thread optimizing a game for launch when you have no idea the amount of traffic will be on the servers and the extreme lack of playtesting that these games get with the increased rarity of Alphas/Betas. Especially with 1M+ people simultaneously playing and trying to exploit your games faults at the same time. However, where is the middle ground? How can gaming companies for AAA titles get their part out of it while also providing a game thats isnt a disaster at launch? 

Thoughts about a potential change in pricing to AAA video games? Would you be okay if a monthly subscription model became the standard for AAA title pricing and is that the answer? How do you feel about the launches of recent games and how that could/should affect the dollar amount of a game?

https://www.gamingbible.com/news/gta-6-priced-by-per-hour-value-171196-20231116

Edited by AkronsWitness
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This coming from the company that milked GTAV online for years without a meaningful addition for offline players.

While I get the logic that more expansive games shoukd cost more,  they are looking at it the wrong way.   In reality, alot of games priced $70 have no business being priced that high.   Look at Madden.  Look at Call od Duty.   Look at Assassins Creed.   So many copy and paste games that shouldn't be more than $30-40.    If GTA goes higher...its pure greed, and they will lose alot on initial sales.    They made a killing on just the base game sales for GTA5 and with online play its mind blowing how much they made over the last decade....and they could use that model again for 6.....but if they ask for more that $70 for the base game, they will catch hell and I can almost guarantee, it wont last.

Bottom line...the burden shouldn't be on consumers to pay more for top end AAA titles just because so many AAA studios charge full price for mediocre, unpolished games that shouldn't cost much more than half that.

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2 hours ago, 43M said:

This coming from the company that milked GTAV online for years without a meaningful addition for offline players.

While I get the logic that more expansive games shoukd cost more,  they are looking at it the wrong way.   In reality, alot of games priced $70 have no business being priced that high.   Look at Madden.  Look at Call od Duty.   Look at Assassins Creed.   So many copy and paste games that shouldn't be more than $30-40.    If GTA goes higher...its pure greed, and they will lose alot on initial sales.    They made a killing on just the base game sales for GTA5 and with online play its mind blowing how much they made over the last decade....and they could use that model again for 6.....but if they ask for more that $70 for the base game, they will catch hell and I can almost guarantee, it wont last.

Bottom line...the burden shouldn't be on consumers to pay more for top end AAA titles just because so many AAA studios charge full price for mediocre, unpolished games that shouldn't cost much more than half that.

Good point. I agree with your point about yearly release games not costing so much. If Madden/2K/COD cost something like $30-40 at launch then offered a $20-30 expansion or update halfway through it's lifecycle I feel that would be nice.

the other random idea I was thinking about was what if all games were $5-10/mo. Subscriptions like Final Fantasy. BUT the first month is free. This protects customers from not having to commit money to a unpolished game if it sucks at launch and also puts pressure on developers to have to come stronger with games on their release dates if they want to keep players longer than 30 days.

it will also create incentives for devs to make a game people want to play for more than 7 months because if they do, the game makes more money. Getting a player to pay $10/mo for your game over a year = $120 for a game but if it sucks, the they might only get $10-$30

Edited by AkronsWitness
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I agree with the point he's trying to make.  From what I remember, he wasn't saying he is pushing for a subscription model.  He was just pointing out the crazy amount of value you get out of a video game.  And I agree.  It is one of the best "bang for your buck" forms of entertainment.  If you put 30+ hours in a video game, how aren't you getting $70 worth?  

Heck, I don't play COD, but the people who do play COD tend to put 30-50+ hours in it over the course of a year.  That is getting your moneys worth.

It all depends on the individual.  If you aren't putting that many hours in any game, then yeah maybe games at that high price tag aren't worth it for you.  But for a lot of people, especially someone like me who uses video games as a way to not go out and spend money, I wouldn't have a problem paying more for GTA as long as they gave me enough quality hours for it to be worth it.  
 

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If you go with the MMO model, you have to make sure that you have “endgame” content.  The Old Republic put a lot of work into writing eight story classes, and doing male/female voice acting and having three “decision” trees which required different lines to be written as well.  What did they have after everyone reached the 50 level cap and the end of story missions?  One end of game planet.  It took over a year for the next expansion.  Gotta be prepared for that IMO if you want to follow that route.  

They could have become the next WOW, but instead, the game 10 years later was divested from BioWare and basically one foot out of the door at EA, and has been under-resourced since everyone left.  

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23 hours ago, iknowcool said:

I agree with the point he's trying to make.  From what I remember, he wasn't saying he is pushing for a subscription model.  He was just pointing out the crazy amount of value you get out of a video game.  And I agree.  It is one of the best "bang for your buck" forms of entertainment.  If you put 30+ hours in a video game, how aren't you getting $70 worth?  

Heck, I don't play COD, but the people who do play COD tend to put 30-50+ hours in it over the course of a year.  That is getting your moneys worth.

It all depends on the individual.  If you aren't putting that many hours in any game, then yeah maybe games at that high price tag aren't worth it for you.  But for a lot of people, especially someone like me who uses video games as a way to not go out and spend money, I wouldn't have a problem paying more for GTA as long as they gave me enough quality hours for it to be worth it.  
 

I completely agree. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I have put close to 1,700 hrs into New World since it's launch 3 years ago. I paid $40 for it at launch lol $40 for 1,700+ hours of entertainment is insane ROI especially when I can't even pull out of the driveway and spend less than 40 bucks.

But for every game like that, there is a game like EA Sports PGA Tour which I bought for $70 and put it down after 20 hours because it was way too easy and essentially beat the game in 5 days

I guess it all evens out.

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On 12/1/2023 at 10:52 PM, iknowcool said:

I agree with the point he's trying to make.  From what I remember, he wasn't saying he is pushing for a subscription model.  He was just pointing out the crazy amount of value you get out of a video game.  And I agree.  It is one of the best "bang for your buck" forms of entertainment.  If you put 30+ hours in a video game, how aren't you getting $70 worth?  

Heck, I don't play COD, but the people who do play COD tend to put 30-50+ hours in it over the course of a year.  That is getting your moneys worth.

It all depends on the individual.  If you aren't putting that many hours in any game, then yeah maybe games at that high price tag aren't worth it for you.  But for a lot of people, especially someone like me who uses video games as a way to not go out and spend money, I wouldn't have a problem paying more for GTA as long as they gave me enough quality hours for it to be worth it.  
 

The problem I have with this logic is the terrible precedent it sets and the fact that it would be highly exploited within the industry.

I am actually similar insomuch as I play games to prevent me from investing more money into pricier hobbies (gun collecting, fine dining, gambling, etc) or time into potentially "harmful" activities (excessive drinking, gambling, etc...)...but I still like charging more would be a slippery slope.

Id probably be more on board with this if companies charged more in line with what they SHOULD charge (i.e...sports and other annual titles costing no more than $30).   Then, I probably woukdnt mind paying $80 or $90 for a game that was in development for 5 to 8 years...but we know if they do that, it will just cause all game prices to jump.

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I barely even play videogames anymore.

 

Mostly because the death of compelling, fun, singleplayer campaigns with strong stories has killed it for me.

 

But i've still definitely played enough and paid enough attention to recognize the trend toward, "release now, fix it later".  Over the air updates were a plague nobody even recognized until it was too late.  Not it's just expected that every single game will ship broken and stupid.  Wait for the patch.  So stupid.

Edited by Tugboat
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6 hours ago, Tugboat said:

I barely even play videogames anymore.

 

Mostly because the death of compelling, fun, singleplayer campaigns with strong stories has killed it for me.

 

But i've still definitely played enough and paid enough attention to recognize the trend toward, "release now, fix it later".  Over the air updates were a plague nobody even recognized until it was too late.  Not it's just expected that every single game will ship broken and stupid.  Wait for the patch.  So stupid.

Indie/small dev company games are really what is carrying video games in general if you want good, compelling and mostly original games because they have no agenda besides 'make a fun game'. However, if your not on PC you don't have access to the majority of those type of games. The most enjoyable and original games I have played in the past 3-4 years have been small dev/indie games. The Long Dark, Splitgate, Lethal Company, Stanley Parable, The Forest, Phasmaphobia, ect

The evolvement of 'Live Service' games has essentially warped gaming. Not only does it remove pressure on devs to make a polished game at launch, but it also opened the door for post-launch microtransactions and monetization if you want to continue playing the game. Essentially crippling the ability for AAA game studios to make anything new or original in the process. Everything is just a reskinned remake of a previous game or storyline that already exists. GTA 6, Madden 33, NBA2k 29, COD 40, Final Fantasy 25, Far Cry 9, Need For Speed 15, God of War 7, Assassins Creed 12 and the list goes on and on and on and on. 

Does anybody have any original ideas? Anybody?

 

Edited by AkronsWitness
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6 hours ago, AkronsWitness said:

Indie/small dev company games are really what is carrying video games in general if you want good, compelling and mostly original games because they have no agenda besides 'make a fun game'. However, if your not on PC you don't have access to the majority of those type of games. The most enjoyable and original games I have played in the past 3-4 years have been small dev/indie games. The Long Dark, Splitgate, Lethal Company, Stanley Parable, The Forest, Phasmaphobia, ect

The evolvement of 'Live Service' games has essentially warped gaming. Not only does it remove pressure on devs to make a polished game at launch, but it also opened the door for post-launch microtransactions and monetization if you want to continue playing the game. Essentially crippling the ability for AAA game studios to make anything new or original in the process. Everything is just a reskinned remake of a previous game or storyline that already exists. GTA 6, Madden 33, NBA2k 29, COD 40, Final Fantasy 25, Far Cry 9, Need For Speed 15, God of War 7, Assassins Creed 12 and the list goes on and on and on and on. 

Does anybody have any original ideas? Anybody?

 

 

Problem with most of those smaller/indie developers, is that they almost never have the budget to really flesh out "big" and "epic" games in today's environment.  Every once in a while, someone breaks through a little bit...but is then almost immediately swallowed up by one of the megapublishers and starts to get crushed under the weight of that.  Turns into a process of figuring out how to bleed more money out of the concept by warping it with microtransactions and content, like you said.

 

It wasn't even that long ago that there was a bit of a golden age where games could flourish with "big studio" money to flesh out their creative story ideas.  But i think the rise of "Free 2 Play" games has absolutely been the biggest dagger in that whole thing.  It was already sliding that direction, but on a studio's bottom-line...those games simply perform better.  They become constant moneymakers...rather than conventional games, which are more about that cash outlay at the beginning...and then trying to infuse a bit more down the road with DLC and add-ons, etc.  Which does probably the most harm to actual games...because it drives studios to put out deliberately unfinished games...trying to push customers to buy DLC that they otherwise likely would not.  Basically...trying to put "normal games" on the same sort of "season" or "subscription" type model as F2P games.  And it's awful.

 

Even that huge crowdfunded game..."Star Citizen" or whatever...the promise was that it'd get away from this current model.  But instead, it seems to have turned into an enormous mess.  It's just next to impossible for ambitious ideas to come to fruition these days.  It's super limiting with budgets, in that they simply don't have the resources to build big game worlds with awesome realistic graphics.  It pigeonholes a lot of indie games into leaning on things like "story" and "gimmicks" and "stylized graphics or game models".

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I have no problems buying DLC or letting these guys put out armor/skins/etc that you have to pay for to keep things rolling. But there are good and bad ways. 
 

What Halo has been doing recently has been amazing. Free to play, but I did pay $60 for the game, then each battle pass costs money if you want the cool armor. Or separate micro transactions to buy armor. I can play new content for free while 343 makes money to keep pouring back into the game. 
 

I have been playing Destiny since day 1 of D1. I have no problem paying for yearly expansions. But I spent a lot of money for them to cut out half of the game. And with the new DLC you have to pay extra to get the little things/activities which is super annoying. They are nickel and diming but im still happy overall. 
 

A game like Mortal Kombat to be $70 then ridiculous $10 for a character or whatever, this was the first time I haven’t bought/played MK in forever. 
 

I have no idea how the industry works but games are coming out unfinished (many delayed) then they want us to pay more for a complete product then they release DLC priced almost as high as a game but with 1/4 the content. Maybe make a good game? This seems to be a post pandemic problem. 

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15 hours ago, Tugboat said:

 

Problem with most of those smaller/indie developers, is that they almost never have the budget to really flesh out "big" and "epic" games in today's environment.  Every once in a while, someone breaks through a little bit...but is then almost immediately swallowed up by one of the megapublishers and starts to get crushed under the weight of that.  Turns into a process of figuring out how to bleed more money out of the concept by warping it with microtransactions and content, like you said.

 

It wasn't even that long ago that there was a bit of a golden age where games could flourish with "big studio" money to flesh out their creative story ideas.  But i think the rise of "Free 2 Play" games has absolutely been the biggest dagger in that whole thing.  It was already sliding that direction, but on a studio's bottom-line...those games simply perform better.  They become constant moneymakers...rather than conventional games, which are more about that cash outlay at the beginning...and then trying to infuse a bit more down the road with DLC and add-ons, etc.  Which does probably the most harm to actual games...because it drives studios to put out deliberately unfinished games...trying to push customers to buy DLC that they otherwise likely would not.  Basically...trying to put "normal games" on the same sort of "season" or "subscription" type model as F2P games.  And it's awful.

 

Even that huge crowdfunded game..."Star Citizen" or whatever...the promise was that it'd get away from this current model.  But instead, it seems to have turned into an enormous mess.  It's just next to impossible for ambitious ideas to come to fruition these days.  It's super limiting with budgets, in that they simply don't have the resources to build big game worlds with awesome realistic graphics.  It pigeonholes a lot of indie games into leaning on things like "story" and "gimmicks" and "stylized graphics or game models".

Thats all very true. I think a lot of the repetition and lack of original ideas in games stems from that 'big budget' you talked about.  Especially with something like COD where I remember hearing since Activision is a publicly traded company with shareholders, their entire model and what drives them to make games is making money for the shareholders of Activision. So basically, they never strayed too far away from the same old same old--while keeping the game in microtransaction hell.

Just too many risks for these companies to try something new and get away from a model that they know works/sells despite how stale it might be.

The last 'new' idea that made it big, at least that I have seen, for a video game that was different than anything else out was.......drumroll please..........Fortnite. Not the BR genre itself, but the cartoony art style, the building component and the fact that it was a 3rd person shooter that didnt rely on a dingy wartorn atmosphere trying to be serious.

This whole 'video games are dead' movement thats been all over social media for 2 years isnt necessarily untrue. AAA games have largely been crap for years now and thats why its only really fun anymore if you dig through the crates and find some of these smaller game studios products and start playing some of them.

Edited by AkronsWitness
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2 hours ago, jetsfan4life51 said:

I have no problems buying DLC or letting these guys put out armor/skins/etc that you have to pay for to keep things rolling. But there are good and bad ways. 
 

What Halo has been doing recently has been amazing. Free to play, but I did pay $60 for the game, then each battle pass costs money if you want the cool armor. Or separate micro transactions to buy armor. I can play new content for free while 343 makes money to keep pouring back into the game. 
 

I have been playing Destiny since day 1 of D1. I have no problem paying for yearly expansions. But I spent a lot of money for them to cut out half of the game. And with the new DLC you have to pay extra to get the little things/activities which is super annoying. They are nickel and diming but im still happy overall. 
 

A game like Mortal Kombat to be $70 then ridiculous $10 for a character or whatever, this was the first time I haven’t bought/played MK in forever. 
 

I have no idea how the industry works but games are coming out unfinished (many delayed) then they want us to pay more for a complete product then they release DLC priced almost as high as a game but with 1/4 the content. Maybe make a good game? This seems to be a post pandemic problem. 

Its in part because new generation video games take more time, money and resources to make from developers but in the interest of making the studio money--they have stayed on yearly releases when in reality, these games should be taking 2+ years to complete. Thats why sports games have been so bland with no change.  In a 1 year development cycle there isn't enough time to switch up too much. 

This isnt 1998 anymore where Rareware can whip up a 64 bit game idea in 6 months and have it out to the public--but cooperate greed still calls for yearly releases and the 'ehhh we'll fix it later with a update' mindset

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6 hours ago, AkronsWitness said:

Thats all very true. I think a lot of the repetition and lack of original ideas in games stems from that 'big budget' you talked about.  Especially with something like COD where I remember hearing since Activision is a publicly traded company with shareholders, their entire model and what drives them to make games is making money for the shareholders of Activision. So basically, they never strayed too far away from the same old same old--while keeping the game in microtransaction hell.

Just too many risks for these companies to try something new and get away from a model that they know works/sells despite how stale it might be.

The last 'new' idea that made it big, at least that I have seen, for a video game that was different than anything else out was.......drumroll please..........Fortnite. Not the BR genre itself, but the cartoony art style, the building component and the fact that it was a 3rd person shooter that didnt rely on a dingy wartorn atmosphere trying to be serious.

This whole 'video games are dead' movement thats been all over social media for 2 years isnt necessarily untrue. AAA games have largely been crap for years now and thats why its only really fun anymore if you dig through the crates and find some of these smaller game studios products and start playing some of them.

Yeah.  The amount of money it takes to put these games together definitely encourages a very "risk averse" sort of model.  Hard for them to justify the investment in something outside of the box, without knowing whether it'll really take off and make that money back or not.

 

5 hours ago, AkronsWitness said:

Its in part because new generation video games take more time, money and resources to make from developers but in the interest of making the studio money--they have stayed on yearly releases when in reality, these games should be taking 2+ years to complete. Thats why sports games have been so bland with no change.  In a 1 year development cycle there isn't enough time to switch up too much. 

This isnt 1998 anymore where Rareware can whip up a 64 bit game idea in 6 months and have it out to the public--but cooperate greed still calls for yearly releases and the 'ehhh we'll fix it later with a update' mindset

I think this is definitely also a big part of it.  It also contributes to the "risk averse" process.  There's not even really enough time to ship a mostly "finished" game when it's completely standard, run of the mill stuff.  Basically a reskin based on a previous iteration.  Because that's all they really have time for, when the studio/investors are demanding these constant/annual releases for more money.  To really engineer something novel, would mean that capital is tied up in something that isn't generating revenue for a lot longer before it even has a chance to make the money back.  Which doesn't fly with the greed involved at the top.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This is a fitting thread to drop this nugget in. I don't mind games going up in price, it is bound to happen, but splitting it into 3 parts is crazy, especially if they aren't adding more content to the single-player.  $50 for Spider-Man multiplayer seems crazy.

https://nichegamer.com/playstation-reportedly-planning-on-selling-games-in-parts-for-50-each-raising-overall-prices-to-80-100/

Quote

Chief among the leaks is an internal presentation that reveals not only is Sony planning on increasing game prices again from $70 to $80-100, they’re also planning to release the next Spider-Man game in three parts, for $50 each.

Even with AAA games raising their prices across the board to a new $70 standard, Sony is planning to release Spider-Man 3 in three parts, two parts for the main game and with the multiplayer separately, for a grand total of $150.

Chief among the leaks is an internal presentation that revealsHasnot only is Sony planning on increasing game prices again from $70 to $80-100, they’re also planning to release the next Spider-Man game in three parts, for $50 each.

Edited by iknowcool
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