Lunchtime Discussion: Value for Money

Ok so technically David Jaffe may be madder than a box of frogs, but sometimes he’s right. At the very least his ‘on-again, off-again’ relationship with social media keeps me amused. However until cc_star sent me a useful email with a link to this entry, I’d never seen his personal blog. Some of the posts are crazy and seem to enforce an “I’m always right, everyone else is an idiot” mentality, I can get on board with some of the ideas he lays out.

Cheaper games? Well of course I’m all for cheaper games, I like having money. However I don’t actually mind the price of gaming too much (except for outliers like Modern Warfare 2), but I think we should be paying for what we get. Pretty much every game seems to lie in an RRP zone of £39.99 to £49.99, with a few cheaper and a few higher. This range includes AAA titles and titles I’ve never heard of. Are they all really worth the same, are the costs identical in every case? However with physical titles I’m willing to let a little go, things like distribution and packaging costs are fixed and very similar across publishers.

So if physical distribution has fixed costs, surely the hope must be in digital distribution. This is the crux of Jaffe’s argument, that digital distribution should allow for more flexibility in game pricing and length. Sadly, it doesn’t quite seem to be that way. Big releases on Steam seem to have just shifted the RRP down from the £39.99 – £49.99 range to the £29.99 – £39.99, which seems reasonable as this is the price you’d expect to pick it up at from an online retailer anyway.


What I really don’t agree with Jaffe on is that games should be shorter. That’s just not true. For a start there already are quite a few shorter titles, mostly stuff on XBLA and the PSN, and the pricing seems good. Having the variety is great. I don’t mind paying £49.99 for a game if it’s going to consume my life for six months. Sure, it may stop me picking up other games a little, but at least I’m getting very good value for money and enjoying my self for months on end.

However saying that every single player game should be about four hours is just silly, and hypocritical. Yes “10 bucks for 4 hours” is a really good deal, I don’t think anyone would argue with that. Saying that you wish all 1 player games should be that long is silly for anyone, saying that when you’re a games developer who makes games significantly longer than 4 hours just makes you look dumb.

So do you agree with Jaffe? Should games be made shorter? Do you just think that price should be a lot more related to the length of the game, rather than just having a fixed range of prices? Or is Jaffe blind and this sort of this is already happening?

Thanks to cc_star for tipping me off about Jaffe’s blog.