Why PS Vita’s PSN Pricing Gets It Right

If Apple’s App Store pricing has taught us anything, it’s that once you hit that 69p price bracket, there’s little chance of going back.  Cheap games might be great for the consumer, but expectations will struggle to recover and it marks everything above that figure as apparently expensive.

Consumer resistance to higher priced titles is evident.

Perception can be a dangerous thing – I rarely touch anything above 69p on the iPad now unless it’s some music software, and even then, if a game’s racked with 5-star reviews and is topping the charts at that bargain price, i’ll read some articles on it and maybe watch a few YouTube videos first.

Why?  Because everything’s that price, from the sublime to the utterly terrible, and that’s the way it’s always going to be now.

[drop2]Sony, naturally, know this, and have priced their first round of PlayStation Network games for the Vita accordingly.  Yes, I’m sure they could have smashed out at a quid per game, but where do you go from there?  What happens when a game follows on in a few months for two quid?  It’s twice as expensive, but is it twice as good?

Instead, as we’ve been hinting at (and nudged by those in the know) for a little while, Sony have spread out the price ranges into a trio of brackets: £4.79, £6.49 and £9.99.  By doing this they’ve shown instantly that they’re catering for a wide range of figures and ensuring that perceptions are clear: these aren’t throwaway 69p games.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m well aware that there are dozens of brilliant iPhone games at that price, but there’s also a huge amount of not-so-brilliant ones, and it’s hard to figure out what’s what.  By starting the prices at £4.79 these games are seen to be higher in quality and more substantial, an effect that’s not easy to pull off without quality titles.

And – I’m happy to say – these are.

MotorStorm RC is the clear winner here.  At £4.79 it’s almost a no-brainer, especially when you consider that you also get the PlayStation 3 version for the same price, and when you also think that that’s only 80 pence more than a virtual Sackboy t-shirt, well, we’re assuming you’ve already got money in your wallet.

The others are great too, though.  Top Darts I’ve been playing for a month or so and it’s sharp and extremely playable, and Hustle Kings is so alike the PS3 version that it also features cross play.  Or at least, that’s what I’ve been told, the version I have has some features currently stripped out.

Stardust Delta might have been spoiled slightly by the news that there’s day one DLC, but even when you factor in the expansion pack it’s still a bargain, and it’s clear that Sony wanted to get three games out at that £6.49 price point in order to a) push MotorStorm a little harder and b) make Escape Plan look like the premium title.

Which, from what I’ve played, it probably is.  A quirkly but enjoyable puzzler, Escape Plan sees you controlling two cute characters via the Vita’s two touch screens alone, tapping, swiping and – my favourite – pinching your way through a series of detailed, monochromatic levels.

Something for everyone, then, and with Gravity Rush to follow in a couple of months (last I heard) and a series of third party games (including Plants vs Zombies) on the way too, it looks like you’ll be wanting to ensure you’ve got a big enough memory card, even if you were only planning on picking up physical retail copies of the Vita’s flagship games.

But the bottom line is that I’m happy with these prices. Sony have priced the games intelligently and hopefully they’re a sign of things to come – if future titles can sit amongst these three price brackets they’ll hopefully be on to a winner.  It’s not a case of just throwing them out at the cheapest possible rate, because long term that doesn’t help anyone.

You can read more about the launch games in our comprehensive and rather lovely (even if I do say so myself) guide to the PS Vita.

– PAGE CONTINUES BELOW –

24 Comments

  1. With the 5 off you get with the pre order pack and the reduced price psn cards you get always find some where these games are turning in to a real bargain.

  2. The pricing is probably just about right, and any overpriced stinkers using this pricing method can easily be put out on sale shortly afterwards for a more realistic valuation, and still be integral to the pricing policy….win win!

  3. I can’t wait! I have the wifi ordered however, I have no games ordered and no memory card. I was planning on going out and buying them on tuesday but I may have to get a pre-order in. Oh and I need a psn card!

  4. Agree

    Many devs are struggling on the AppStore with quality games going unnoticed unless you’re either a ‘name’ or you somehow strike it lucky & even if you do strike it lucky still fail to make a reasonable amount thanks to the prevailing low price point.

    Because of this established price-point I’m sure many developers ideas never make it to release or even into development because it wouldn’t make sufficient money.

    By setting the bar higher than that but still remaining exceptional value it could draw developers to the platform & that will be great news for owners rather than the impulse purchase pricing, however their maybe room for even cheaper games once Sony finally get PS Suite framework in developers hands as that works across all Sony mobile devices, although this is probably not helped by Sony mobile dropping off the face of the earth in the US through 2011

    • So far I’ve only bought one mobile game and thats only because I’d played it in my PS3 first. There’s too much to trawl through on App stores and you could find youself spending £5+ before you find a decent game. Trials are ok but I simply don’t have time to play demos any more, I seem to spend mor etime downloading and deleting them than actually playing them.

      It’s amazing how quickly the App stores have gone from allowing anyone a chance to make a successful game with inivation to needing to be a big name to make any money at all. As with any platform, if it gets too popular the market gets flooded.

  5. These prices fall exactly in to my impulse buy category.

  6. Great article, they really have done the three tier system; which is a good idea.

  7. So happy with these prices. Definitely in the ‘impulse buy’ price range.
    I hope they give plenty of coverage to Motorstorm RC on the PS3 storefront, and push the cross-platform play with Vita for those ps3 owners who have no idea about the Vita in general (and there are plenty of those around).

    Escape plan and Motorstorm are inst-buys at this price for sure!

    • Insta-buys not inst-buys.

      Thanks autocorrect.

  8. It is a great pricing strategy by Sony, no doubt about it. Motorstorm looks brilliant fun and at £4.79 it will be in many peoples impulse buy zone. Even with the DLC cost factored in Stardust is still fantastic value and just as good as the PS3 version.

  9. excellent pricing, and its actually making me think about buying a vita over an ipad now…damn you sony.

  10. Great prices but i’m not bothering with Vita just yet….if and it drops in price to around £170, i may reconsider. I just dont think the vita should be priced higher than the PS3….although my local Morrisons has the 160gig PS3 priced at only £150.00 and the 320gig PS3 with a bluray film and move pack at only £199.00 …. i can’t see the vita ever being that cheap lol.

    • It will eventually, if you’re willing to wait 5 years that is.

    • I wouldn’t be even slightly surprised to see Vita under 200 everywhere by the end of summer. I hope it does really well but I honestly think it’ll struggle.

Comments are now closed for this post.