TSA Debate: FFVII Pricing

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With the most often requested PlayStation title hitting the Store this week at double the cost of othe PS Classics we sat down for a debate about why it was priced like that and the possible implications on future pricing.

Chris: Even the mighty WipEout, a popular franchise which continues to this day is £3.49, so I’m not sure how SCEE can justify the price tag of £7.99, after all it wasn’t twice the price first time around.

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Peter: Basically I think that Sony is probably going to try to justify it with a claim that the extra size of the game causes greater bandwidth costs. It might not be twice the game but it is twice the size (actually much more than twice the size) of any other PS1 classics on the store.

Chris: Perhaps SCEE are using FFVII’s cult status to justify the price, after all the physical version of the game complete with box & manual can fetch as much as around £15 on eBay. Now the reason for this is the title is obviously seen as a classic, maybe even the pinnacle of the genre so the physical product is a bit of a collector’s item and this is pushing up the second hand value.

Davs: I think the fact that I bought it without second thoughts does show that it doesn’t really matter. Whilst other PS1 games are £3.99 I didn’t realise this was a set rule. Why should Sony have multiple price points for PSN games but default all PS1 games at the same price.

Robert: I think this is an interesting play on Sony’s behalf. This is the same price as other games on the PlayStation Store, and it’s obvious that they sell. Sony see that as the title is of matching, if not better quality in some peoples’ opinion compared to the current PS3 games available for digital download, then they’re going to want to get money from the whole thing.

Murdo: I love the Final Fantasy series, just get that out the way, but I still haven’t bought the game because of two reasons, which are price and game length. Now obviously game length cannot be changed but I would insist on completing it when, really, I have a lot of new games to go through. I don’t find the price excessive; it is just something I would rather wait to buy nearer the release of the PSP Go.

Peter: Actually, on second thoughts, they probably won’t try to justify it at all; they’ll ignore all complaints and just quote download figures when it sells like hot-cakes.

Robert: Clearly, they’ve picked up on the fact that the title will be in high demand, and despite a few pounds added on top, people who were intending to buy it in the first place are still likely to buy it.

Murdo: The rarity of the disc is also a major factor and with many PS3 lacking the backwards compatibility this is the only way to play FFVII on your PS3.

Chris: If this is SCEE’s train of thought then I am afraid it is flawed, as a digital download isn’t a collector’s item because it doesn’t have a resale value. It also isn’t like the owner can hold it in their hands as a piece of gaming history.

Peter: In reality I think that there is an element of cashing-in on a highly-regarded title but it was also heavily requested so from their point of view, in troubled economic times, why not?

Davs: The size and stature of FFVII leads it to being of greater value than that of most other PS1 games. Trying to get hold of a FFVII disc is pretty expensive compared to most other PS1 games. Part of the increase in price will be that people will still buy it because of people’s love for the game, but also the actual size (both in game-play and capacity) mean that you are getting a more for your money anyway.

Peter: During a recession it’s the “core” that keep on spending so that’s who Sony have to try to exploit and FFVII is a perfect title to do that.

Chris: Another point about if this is SCEE’s line of thinking is that it’s cult status warrants twice the price, then some games should surely be half the price, there are many games which in the second-hand market go unsold, does this mean that if this is Sony’s measure we’ll get some PSOne classics free of charge and only have to pay bandwidth costs, will we see less popular PSOne games launched for around 99p? I doubt it, but can Sony have it both ways?

Robert: There may be some behind-the-scenes push by Square Enix, who would have had to put considerable effort into making sure the entire game works on the PS3 and the PSP. With only two top buttons on the PSP, some PS1 classics need a considerable amount of rethinking to create a new, easy-to-learn-and-use control system that will work across both the PS3 and PSP.

Murdo: Sony are just trying to make a quick buck and, while most people find the game to be over-charged, I think the price is justified due to the larger game scale and perhaps production values, even though we all knew it would be released eventually.

Peter: The scale and production values didn’t cause the game to have a higher price when it was originally released and this re-release has to be considered a bonus for them. Do you really think that when Square and Sony released FFVII on the PlayStation they expected it to re-release twelve years and two platforms later? Of course not, they recouped their outlay with the original release and this time, aside from bandwidth costs and minimal compatibility fixes, it is all pure profit for them.

Chris: Obviously people as consumers have the right to vote with their wallets. The amount admittedly isn’t bank-breaking but does just handing over your money signify to Sony that we are willing to pay more than £3.49 for PSOne games and will any sales-success of this title see the prices creeping up to £5-plus?

Robert: Sony has proven that they’ll break the £3.99 ‘rule’ of PS1 classics whenever they want, so how far will this extend in the future? Final Fantasy VII isn’t the only highly requested PS1 download for the PlayStation Store. The original Metal Gear Solid is also heavily requested, and we know that this will be coming soon.

Murdo: The PSOne classics on the store are fairly priced and I think this one also is, mainly due to its demand. For many people this is a trip down memory lane and Sony knows this.

Davs: It was certainly a trip down memory lane for me and I bought it without hesitation. I think the price is totally fair for such a great and expansive game.

Robert: Does this mean, though, that if a title is extremely popular, it’ll be set at a ‘premium’ charge. If not, it’ll be a ‘regular’ charge. Then again, surely this is also down the discussions between the developers and Sony?

Murdo: Well, if people request the game time and time again and they will probably have no problem paying the increased price.

Peter: It might be slightly disingenuous but are we really going to begrudge them wringing a few extra sheckles out of this highly regarded and massively requested title when they knew the demand was there?

Murdo: Well, during the course of this discussion I have actually bought Final Fantasy VII and it’s downloading now…

Chris: Ha, that’s a good place to leave it then I suppose. Time to throw the discussion open to our readers.

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