We’ve had the current helping of next-gen consoles for almost a year now and in that time the 360 has ushered in hi-def gaming as standard, brought us a fantastic experience online and also the gory wonder that is Dead Rising. However, not all is rosy in this generation as its advent has also brought in a recommended retail price (RRP) of £50.
The worrying thing, coming from someone looking from the inside out, is that this is so way above an impulse-buy price point that I think that a lot of people can talk themselves out of wanting to buy your game, especially for the now ubiquitous casual gamer. Trying to explain to your significant other, or your own wallet for that matter, that spending half-a-ton on a shiny disk is a worthwhile investment is getting harder and harder.
Obviously prices must go up due to inflation and the rising cost of development associated with the transition to more powerful machines, and I don’t mind paying for a damn good experience such as GRAW or Oblivion where you can so obviously gain value for money, but what does rile me is that publishers feel they can charge this inflated price for multi-platform products.
For a brief comparison, before I get to the meat, at launch this £50 RRP was 25% more than original Xbox titles and now, with those same original Xbox titles dropping to an RRP of £30, 66% more.
As evidence I present Game A: Just Cause; a game so obviously developed for multiple platforms and yet 360 owners get stung. Moving along we have Game B: Lego Star Wars II; not quite so bad with only a £40 RRP but yet again those with newer machines are getting charged more.
Of course the RRP is not a hard and fast value, as these examples have shown, but I do feel that next-gen consoles owners, and PS3 will be included too, are being taken for a ride unnecessarily by publishers who have artificially created this inflated price in certain cases. I’d love them to show me exactly where on their development budget the extra £10 I’m spending on Lego Star Wars went; is there a column for that on the financials? Why are we being charged more for exactly the same?
The fact is that there has already been a “budget” release on the Xbox 360 that has proved to be a major hit and yet showed no sign of corner cutting or lack of quality. Rockstar’s Table Tennis wasn’t even a multi-platform title, they produced it exclusively for Microsoft’s console and upon its release earlier this year copies flew off the shelves with a great number of those buying it purely interested in a cheaper Xbox 360 title.
Blockbuster titles are not going to be released as this lower price point for obvious reasons but multi-platform games (Tomb Raider, Lego Star Wars, Just Cause), ridiculously short games (King Kong) or just plain bad title (*cough* Bomberman *cough*) should think about lowering their price tags at least in line with the other platforms if they are seriously going to make people consider purchasing them over alternative formats… especially when those formats are already backwards compatible.