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Apr 03 2012
By: PapaWarlock PlayStation MVP 11160 posts
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Digital Download Prices Need Changing.

17 replies 69 views Edited Apr 3, 2012

I wrote this originally for playstationedge.com but wanted to share it here and see what everyone has to say on the topic. This is my content, not someone else's.

Digital versions of games are becoming far more common every day. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all have their own online stores where you can buy some of their older classics such as Playstation 1 games or NES, SNES or even Sega system games. All 3 also have a system in place for game companies, usually the smaller independent companies, to release digital only games. Games like Braid, Escape Plan, Hustle Kings, Sumioni: Demon Arts and Castle Crashers are just a couple of the recent releases. Big publishers are also beginning to put their games up digitally at the same time that the retail stores get the physical games.

Sony has placed a huge emphasis on digital games for it’s newest handheld system, the Playstation Vita. All Vita games are supposed to be available on the PSN Store on the same day as the commercial release. Unlike the PS3 games that come to the PSN, the digital Vita games have a small discount over the retail releases. About a 10% discount. Not really that big of a discount. Yet PS3 games that come out on the PSN at the same time as the retail versions share the exact same price.

Most of the games that are released only on the digital stores are priced anywhere between $9.99 and $14.99. These games are often smaller scaled games that would certainly flop at a $60 price point. There are a few that might be a bit less than that and then you also have the ‘minis’ that Sony introduced. These games are usually priced between $0.99 and $3.99. Small games that are good for short periods of gaming. Not much different than most of the app games you’ll find on phones and tablets today and priced similarly.

As digital game releases and creation continue to push forward, many of these games are getting larger in scope. Longer play times. More levels. Additional content added to them. Not quite on par with a full blown retail game, but getting there. As these digital only games get larger, it becomes harder for most consumers to justify $60 on a brand new game when they can wait 6 months to a year and get that same game for half price. With the advent of the digital release age, I find myself feeling like game prices are stuck in the Stone Age. Why pay $60 for a game that will last me maybe 10 hours when I can pay $5 for a decent mini game that will last me a couple of hours but with more replay value?

Right now there are still a few hindrances to the whole gaming industry going digital. Such as a lack of a universal internet speed standard. Some areas of the country (and the world at large) still don’t have reliable internet connections. Some places are still on dial up connections. For small games that’s not entirely that large of an issue. A game that’s only a few hundred megabytes in size could take anywhere between a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. But a game that comes in at say 4 gigabytes could take a few days for a lot of people.

Yet we know that day is coming. When that happens, I don’t think too many consumers are going to stand for paying $60 for a 5 hour game if their only option is digital. I have a couple of thoughts on how game publishers can deal with the impending changes.

Separate the content. This option could be done in a few different ways. The main way I was thinking about would be to separate the solo campaign from the multi player campaign. Take Sony’s recent decision to offer the Killzone 3 multi-player for example. You can now purchase just the multi player for a fraction of the price of the full game. Same goes for the solo campaign.

Episodic content could be another method, although it might not work as well. There aren’t many games that have come out this way in the United States but Siren: Blood Curse (PS3) and Walking Dead (PC) are two examples of how it could work. You would end up buying the first episode and if you like it, you can buy any or all of the following episodes. Sort of like how Itunes works.Buy an episode at a time, or maybe even a discount on the whole season or game package.

Hourly or Daily Rentals. This is one thing I kind of wish we had going on now. I know there are places I can rent a game for a day or pay a monthly fee for, but I haven’t had much luck with those myself. The selections tend to be limited by demand. A popular game might take weeks before I can get a copy to test out. I’d rather see Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, EA, BioWare, Naughty Dog, etc… offer gamers the chance to rent the game digitally. Perhaps hourly is a bit of a pipe dream, but maybe charge $2 – $5 to rent the game for 1 day. If you beat it quickly then you’re way ahead. If you don’t like it, you don’t lose out on much. Nothing like buying a game only to find out you hate it.

Expansive DLC. Most of the DLC that comes out is over priced in my opinion. $15 for a couple of new map packs. $2.99 for some costumes that only change the way a character looks. Oddly enough those do sell well enough for companies to keep putting them out there.

I’d rather see DLC come out that will significantly add to a game’s replay. While I’m not a fan of multi-player in general, I understand why map packs sell. 3 new areas to play with friends or against the world in general can add variety to a game.

Yet at the same time I believe developers can easily create a base game experience for less and then continually build upon that game. Kingdoms of Amalur for example was overall a pretty solid game. There could have been more to the game than there was. Recently there was an expansion put out called “Legend of Dead Kel.” It added a new area, new quests, a new side story, new monsters and about 10 hours or so of game play for $9.99. This could easily add continual value to games. Since the base game has already been created, building upon that is far easier and you could have multiple teams working on expanding the game and still leave a team open to begin work on the next project. Set the base game price at $30 and allow gamers to buy what they’re interested in.

Micro transactions: This is similar to DLC but this allows gamers to unlock bonus items for small sums of money. BioWare’s Mass Effect 3 is a pretty decent example of micro transactions done right. (In my opinion of course.) In multi-player gamers are able to earn credits as they successfully complete missions. Before or after each match players can access the ‘store’ and buy game packs. Each pack contains 4 random items, weapon upgrades or character unlocks. You can also pay for these packs with funds from your account.

There are currently 4 packs available. Recruit pack is 5000 credits and is considered the basic pack. Small chance for uncommon or rare items. The Veteran pack is 20,000 credits or $0.99. You get at least one uncommon or better item with a small chance for rare. The Premium Veteran pack is 33,000 credits or $1.49. You get at least 2 uncommon items and a higher chance for a rare item. The Spectre pack is 60,000 credits or $1.99. You get at least one rare item. You can save or pay as you wish. No one is forced to buy.

Most of your multi-player games could easily adopt a micro transaction system and set a lower price for their games. Allow gamers to earn money or bonuses as they complete missions or matches. Granted those who are willing to burn the money are going to have a bit of an edge at times, but this gives gamers with less readily accessed money a fair chance at some extra items. But this would also require companies to make a solid effort at the micro transaction system.

These are just a few ideas that could possibly work. As digital downloads become far more common, the game industry needs to be able to adapt to the changing market. I doubt we’ll ever see Triple-A games like Batman: Arkham City, Skyrim, Uncharted or Mass Effect selling for $20 brand new digital download only, but if we could get them for $45 or less, I think many gamers would be more willing to buy games digitally.

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PlayStation MVP
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Re: Digital Download Prices Need Changing.

Apr 3, 2012

Like I keep saying, you're paying for the game, and not the delivery method or the format. Just because it's a digital release doesn't mean there's less work that went into making the game. They're not going to be "swell guys" and charge less because there's not box or disc. It's an opprotunity to downsize the product, and upsize the profits. And with no competition like you have in a retail market place, you either pay their prices or you don't buy it at all.

I know the hope was that without a box, disc and all the overhead that a hard copy has, that the savings would be passed on to consumers, but as we see that's not the case. And as long as gamers are so enamored with the prospect of downloading being "future tech", they'll continue to price it the way they are currently doing it, and in the process gamers themselves will kill the used market as a by-product of downloading. 

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Re: Digital Download Prices Need Changing.

Apr 3, 2012

CaptainAlbator wrote:

Like I keep saying, you're paying for the game, and not the delivery method or the format. Just because it's a digital release doesn't mean there's less work that went into making the game. They're not going to be "swell guys" and charge less because there's not box or disc. It's an opprotunity to downsize the product, and upsize the profits. And with no competition like you have in a retail market place, you either pay their prices or you don't buy it at all.

I know the hope was that without a box, disc and all the overhead that a hard copy has, that the savings would be passed on to consumers, but as we see that's not the case. And as long as gamers are so enamored with the prospect of downloading being "future tech", they'll continue to price it the way they are currently doing it, and in the process gamers themselves will kill the used market as a by-product of downloading. 

I'd rather buy used than pay over sized prices for Digital content. The prices for digital content rarely keeps pace with the retail versions. A game will stay full price digitally months longer than the retail version. Why buy digital when I can get used far cheaper?

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Re: Digital Download Prices Need Changing.

Apr 3, 2012

PapaWarlock wrote:

CaptainAlbator wrote:

Like I keep saying, you're paying for the game, and not the delivery method or the format. Just because it's a digital release doesn't mean there's less work that went into making the game. They're not going to be "swell guys" and charge less because there's not box or disc. It's an opprotunity to downsize the product, and upsize the profits. And with no competition like you have in a retail market place, you either pay their prices or you don't buy it at all.

I know the hope was that without a box, disc and all the overhead that a hard copy has, that the savings would be passed on to consumers, but as we see that's not the case. And as long as gamers are so enamored with the prospect of downloading being "future tech", they'll continue to price it the way they are currently doing it, and in the process gamers themselves will kill the used market as a by-product of downloading. 

I'd rather buy used than pay over sized prices for Digital content. The prices for digital content rarely keeps pace with the retail versions. A game will stay full price digitally months longer than the retail version. Why buy digital when I can get used far cheaper?

If, like you said, in a few years when all games will be digital, you won't have that choice. Again, it comes back down to competition. And like I always say, you can save just as much, if not MORE money buying new just by shopping around, rather than running headlong into GameStop and allowing yourself to be fleeced.

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Sackboy
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Re: Digital Download Prices Need Changing.

Apr 4, 2012

I have been doing a lot of PC gaming lately and with the insane deals on PC you get way more value for your $. I just bought 5 PC games this weekend Crysis, Crysis 2, Bulletstorm and two others for under $30. I do not see myself getting a PS4 or 720. I may missout on a few good games, but I will live.

Greg

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Re: Digital Download Prices Need Changing.

Apr 4, 2012

CaptainAlbator wrote:

If, like you said, in a few years when all games will be digital, you won't have that choice. Again, it comes back down to competition. And like I always say, you can save just as much, if not MORE money buying new just by shopping around, rather than running headlong into GameStop and allowing yourself to be fleeced.

Yes, your hostile anti-used game position is well known. As I've pointed out to you before, I've saved far more on games in the past buying used than I could buying new, even months later. Oddly enough you always gloss over that. But I've come to expect that from online discussions with people in general.

I have gotten great deals on new games before. Such as Batman: Arkham City for $10 brand new at Best Buy (versus the still basic $59.99 price) yesterday. But I've also gotten great deals on used games versus new on several occasions (up to 75% savings), as well as sometimes that being the only way to find an older game.

As far as digital goes, it's going to be far more than just a few years before it all goes digital. When ever digital does become the only way to buy, well then, I'll do the same thing I do now. Wait until the price is justifiable. No point to paying full price for something that obviously isn't worth full price. Sales will be the key to game buying in the future.

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Treasure Hunter
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Re: Digital Download Prices Need Changing.

Apr 5, 2012

well if you remembr correct , alot ps gamers  wanted to start a  way to  get the games prices down .   the idea of  game sales is the answer that ps gamer came up with.. I  100% understand what your saying and I  know its a very upsetting topic of debate..

Dd prices will go dwn with time like everything else, this is why  the ps gamer asked for  sales becuase it only fiar to the gamer and sony also the poor gamers .   I agree with you a game  that  a5 hrs long game for 60$ is  kind of jip. Then  try  drop 15$ dlc dwn the gamer neck... But i do think we have the right format now the discounted games sales  and  discounts  are getting  bettter.

But for most part i do agree.. and I do   like the post you made..   Also nvr back dwn if alot dont agree becuase then dim(underweigh) your very good points you made,

Mcbuttz78

vp-psn legioniaree group.

Seek wisdom, not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past, Wisdom is of the future

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I Only Post Everything
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Re: Digital Download Prices Need Changing.

Apr 5, 2012

I really agree that downloaded prices should go down, while Steam isn't a huge part of the industry (calm down Gabe fans, I didn't say they weren't part of the industry at all, just that their presence isn't known by all gamers), they haven't had problems recently, and they always have a sale on something, or something is getting a huge price drop, or something like that. That should say something about moving "product". Many people agree with the idea of, "if I cannot hold it, I cannot really commit too much money".

While I cannot say it was the industry that said this, or the gaming related media outlets, but all I heard when digital games first happened was, "the saving will be passed down to the consumer", and didn't happen. I don't understand why the game companies seem to be surprised when we were being to to pay 10 dollars more for something, but also aren't happy when we have on disc DLC *Cough Jill and Shuma on disc for MVC3 cough*.

I will only download a game if either A) I really liked the game and wanted a second copy to support the developer further and have a quickplay version, or B) I don't really care about the game, I just want something to screw around in when I don't have anything else to do, which is why it is normally a sandbox game that I will buy for download.

An open mind is like a fortress with it's doors unguarded and unbarred
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Re: Digital Download Prices Need Changing.

Apr 5, 2012

Dark_arc wrote:

I really agree that downloaded prices should go down, while Steam isn't a huge part of the industry (calm down Gabe fans, I didn't say they weren't part of the industry at all, just that their presence isn't known by all gamers), they haven't had problems recently, and they always have a sale on something, or something is getting a huge price drop, or something like that. That should say something about moving "product". Many people agree with the idea of, "if I cannot hold it, I cannot really commit too much money".

While I cannot say it was the industry that said this, or the gaming related media outlets, but all I heard when digital games first happened was, "the saving will be passed down to the consumer", and didn't happen. I don't understand why the game companies seem to be surprised when we were being to to pay 10 dollars more for something, but also aren't happy when we have on disc DLC *Cough Jill and Shuma on disc for MVC3 cough*.

I will only download a game if either A) I really liked the game and wanted a second copy to support the developer further and have a quickplay version, or B) I don't really care about the game, I just want something to screw around in when I don't have anything else to do, which is why it is normally a sandbox game that I will buy for download.

I can asure you my friend downloads are the future myfriend. They are already doing it with the PS3 and 360 to get you use to the idea. While I dont think they are going to get rid of physical media next gen. You will be able to buy all PS4 and 720 games the day they are released on the PSN and Live market places.

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Re: Digital Download Prices Need Changing.

Apr 6, 2012

Soulwatcher wrote:

Dark_arc wrote:

I really agree that downloaded prices should go down, while Steam isn't a huge part of the industry (calm down Gabe fans, I didn't say they weren't part of the industry at all, just that their presence isn't known by all gamers), they haven't had problems recently, and they always have a sale on something, or something is getting a huge price drop, or something like that. That should say something about moving "product". Many people agree with the idea of, "if I cannot hold it, I cannot really commit too much money".

While I cannot say it was the industry that said this, or the gaming related media outlets, but all I heard when digital games first happened was, "the saving will be passed down to the consumer", and didn't happen. I don't understand why the game companies seem to be surprised when we were being to to pay 10 dollars more for something, but also aren't happy when we have on disc DLC *Cough Jill and Shuma on disc for MVC3 cough*.

I will only download a game if either A) I really liked the game and wanted a second copy to support the developer further and have a quickplay version, or B) I don't really care about the game, I just want something to screw around in when I don't have anything else to do, which is why it is normally a sandbox game that I will buy for download.

I can asure you my friend downloads are the future myfriend. They are already doing it with the PS3 and 360 to get you use to the idea. While I dont think they are going to get rid of physical media next gen. You will be able to buy all PS4 and 720 games the day they are released on the PSN and Live market places.

I have no problem with these games being part of the future, but if it comes down to getting rid of physical media alltogether, my purchasing habits will change drastically.

An open mind is like a fortress with it's doors unguarded and unbarred
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