There hasn’t been a video game related story for quite some time that has triggered an emotional reaction in me quite like EA shutting down Visceral Games. I’ve been a fan of Visceral Games for some time now, I’ve written about my love of Dead Space recently, and I was eagerly awaiting the release of their Star Wars game which was spearheaded by former Naughty Dog writer/director Amy Hennig. With the closure of the studio, the Star Wars game is to be stripped and butchered from a linear single-player tale into what EA are calling a “broader experience” which is to be developed by a number of other EA studios. Now it’s possible that the game was indeed troubled and in need of a fresh take but changing the game from single player to what can only be presumed as being a ‘games as a service’ model highlights the real issue at play here: money.
AAA games are usually developed simultaneously by multiple studios worldwide that have to constantly upgrade their technology to stay in the top tier of the entertainment industry. In other words, they cost a shit ton of money. Increasingly often the profit made from a games release is not enough to recoup the cost of development and production and so games companies are increasingly reliant on all types of paid-for extras and DLC such as season passes or loot boxes and other microtransactions. Single player games often have no DLC and so, like what we are seeing with the Visceral situation, they are being left at the wayside with ‘games as a service’ titles taking their places. EA probably wants the Star Wars game to be similar to Destiny so they can continue making money on the title for years after its release with a range of DLC and costly loot.
Now I’m not supporting EA’s action here, I’m simply explaining their possible mindset. I haven’t been a fan of their commercial politics for quite some time but I’m not going to go so far to say I’m on the #FuckEA bandwagon. I understand there are, and will always be, single-player experiences; just this past year Sony has been killing it with great games like Horizon: Zero Dawn (which sold very well) and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Prey might be my favourite game of the year and just this past week I’ve been enjoying Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. To think single player games are dead is stupid, as fellow OutofLives scribe Dave definitively tells us here, but the financial issue will only become more apparent in the coming years with a big shift in what ‘paid extras’ accompany single player releases.
There is precedent for what EA is doing, we just have to look at Titanfall 2. Developed by Respawn and published by EA, Titanfall 2 released last year to critical acclaim but poor sales figures. It was the fourth best-selling game of its release week, selling just a quarter of what the first game sold in that time frame. It’s a real shame because I love that game infinitely more than the first. The multiplayer is vastly improved but also the single player component, which was missing from the first game, is truly superb. It’s one of the best FPS campaigns in recent memory with inspired level design and there is an excellent time travel mechanic which is good enough to support an entire game but Respawn were bold enough just to use it in one level in the middle of the campaign. The ‘risk’ of spending so much time and money on single player didn’t pay off though because of the poor sales figures and you can see why EA want to delve further into multiplayer and the ‘games as a service’ model. Respawn’s next game is using the Star Wars licence so I expect that to be a “broader experience” too and the ‘pay to win’ rumours surrounding Battlefront 2 have me worried.
So, what can be done to remedy the situation? It’s something that will piss a lot of people off but I think it is necessary. Video game prices need to rise. The game studios and developers need to be respected and make a profit without having to rely on DLC, season passes and loot boxes. EA has questionable politics but I believe an increased price point for AAA games would lessen the need, and put a limit on, DLC and make one-off payment single player games profitable again for many studios. Gamers are passionate with white hot intensity, both our best and worst feature, so I’m sure a common response to having to pay more would be “fuck off” or variants that thereof but we all know they would hand over the cash anyway. Maybe you think me naïve for thinking raising the overall price of a game would cut out microtransactions but I honestly think it would lead to a better balance between the two and the increased price point would increase the desire for quality experiences which the studios would have to deliver.
You may be thinking that games are expensive enough but if you look at the figures and adjust for inflation you realise that games have stayed at the same price for three console generations despite huge advances in the technology. The following figures are for the UK and focus on PlayStation but X-Box is very similar in terms of price. A new release PS4 game costs around £50; a little less on Amazon but a little more for the digital game on the PlayStation Store (another problem but that’s for another time) so let’s agree on the round number of £50. When adjusting for inflation, £50 in 2007 (the first full year of the PlayStation 3) comes out at £39 which is around what a PlayStation 3 game cost, if not a little less. Adjusting for inflation in 2002 when the PlayStation 2 debuted, £50 of today’s money was £33 which again is around what new PlayStation 2 games cost at the time. We can see that game prices have not risen at all and while gamers do not like change in this regard I feel it is a necessary cost to keep the industry flourishing. This change of mindset and price may be vital in the coming years and whether it is kept at bay until the next console generation or comes sooner, I believe it to be vital that video game prices should increase.
Do you agree that video game prices should rise? Let me know in the comments (be nice but I’m open for debate) and geek out with me about TV, movies and videogames on Twitter @kylebrrtt.
I’d rather see those CEOs and rich business owners take a pay cut. $60 is aready too much for these rehashed titles that are barely more than a reskin of their last 3-6 games using an outdated engine.
Yes, they should rise. then people will be unable to buy them and the AAA gaming industry will get the humbling it sorely deserves. #burnitall
Lol , in my youth , the politicians blamed the video games and rap music for all the violence , now they’re blaming guns , what’s next , dildos ?
Maybe because, unlike video games, guns are actually leading to people dying?
Lee Marsden lol , none of mine have a mind of their own , not one have shot me , care to explain ?
Jamie, if you had psychological problems and hit rock bottom, you couldn’t use a video game to remedy that and allow you to exit the world in blaze of glory taking as many bastards with you as you could.
Matt Schneider I’m a lil old to play with video games , I’m a machinist , I play with multi million dollar machines for a living , here’s what I’ve learned in life , it’s all about balance , you can’t have the good without the bad , the left without the right , the up without the down , the objective is to find the middle , I lost my parents at a very young age , I made it out of the ghetto and made something of myself , if I can do it , anyone can , guns are not the problem , it’s people , always has always will be , best wishes
So Jamie, if I hold your head underwater took you drown it’s not my fault? After all, I didn’t drown you, the water did.
That’s your logic, so, yeah.
Rodney G. Van Allen the logic is very easy to grasp , guns don’t kill people , people kill people , I’m beginning to think y’all jealous because y’all have no guns of your own , lol
Someone hasn’t played saints row.
Games should have a minimum completion time that justifies the cost because some games released are not worth any where near £40-£60
Then paul gets angry when everygame is just a shitty grindfest.. #carefulwhatyouwishfor
Aadil Kurji I like a grind but if your paying that much for a game it should have 30 hours play time not 5 like some games have
Skyrim or any elder scrolls for example, so good I own it on multiple platforms.. Hundreds of hours playtime so far and doesn’t feel grindy. Well crafted games are worth every penny, alot of titles feel barely worth a penny.
that is why I use a pc much cheaper buying games then console.
Steam sales 😀
Adam De-Vere good website for you cheap steam keys might be worth a look 🙂 https://www.instant-gaming.com/en/?igr=289098&utm_source=www.allkeyshop.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=allkeyshop&r_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.allkeyshop.com%2Foutgoinglink%2Flink%2F77465%3Fmerchant%3D13
Not really, depends on the circumstances.
Will check out the site though, thanks
Adam De-Vere Torrents are even cheaper ?
It’s never going to weigh up correctly as long as EA are still in business. Yes smaller studios need better profit but it’s the mega company’s that will be the winners. Micro transactions and dlc is now standard. No single player is standard. That won’t ever change because they can get away with it.
As with anything to do with inflation the only winner is the richest.
I would be happy to pay more money if anyone released complete games.
Video games don’t need to cost more, they need to sell better. The article points ouy that Titanfall 2 didn’t sell enough copies, how on earth would increasing the price have resolved that? It’s backwards to think single player games are a risk – release a single player game with dozens to hundreds of hours of playability (Assassins Creed, the Witcher, Mass Effect) and it will sell. Multiplayer games are much, much riskier. Titanfall 2 didn’t sell well because everyone knows, because of their experience with Titanfall, that after just a few months very few people would be playing it. And yet EA then make games like For Honor with a month long lifespan for 90% of users.
I used Titanfall 2 as an example of why EA’s current mindset is what it is, not as an example of why prices need to rise although i get your point. Also wasn’t For Honor developed and published by Ubisoft? I don’t think EA had anything to do with it.
Too bad Titanfall 2 is the best shooter I have played in years. The user base fizzled in less than 3 months.
That’s because it’s EA, just don’t but any of their games, they suck as a developer and their titles generally suck also.
The prices of video games has gone up. Most AAA titles £50-60 gets you the base version of the game. If you want the rest of the content then fork out another £30 for the season pass. So a game that used to cost £40 now costs £80.
Where are you buying your games? I get new releases between £42 to £47.
Can confirm that games have gotten more expensive to buy. If only publishers would consider who their target audiences are.. teens. Those teens have limited income, and by increasing the price of games you are forcing them to choose. If they are forced to choose between a well-established franchise that they like or something new.. what do you think it will be? If you make games cheaper, you will sell more. The old prices were fine. 50 euro for the main game, half that for an expansion/seasons pass. Would you rather have 50 people shelling out 100 euro for a game a piece, or 100 people shelling out 50? I`m no expert, but i think the size of your audience is at least as important as the money they bring in. Else we could just go to the logical extreme and sell the game for a million, so you only need a few dozen customers.
Actually teens aren’t really the demographic of choice anymore, young adults and up are a larger party of the market now and generally have more money.
Really? Thats interesting! That implies that games are being tailored specifically for my age group. I can deal with that 😀
I recall Streetfighter ll costing £65 in the early 90’s. That wasn’t an isolated incident either. I also recall spending £40 on new release games over 15 years ago or more. Add in inflation and they’re cheaper.
They’re already up, publishers hide the price behind “season passes”
Yea because a 45-50 quid game that dosnt take too long to run through and then there is DLC but if thats not bad enough now microtransactions? Feck off gaming industry. You’re rinsing players enough.
You forgot look boxes. Ugh i feel dirty for even mentioning them
I think the first, critical, flaw in your argument is using EA, they suck. One of the worst companies and one of the biggest offenders in terms of extortionate practices. They’ll always go for the lowest cost, most profit model and any consideration for their players is the last thing on their list.
Lol £40 to £60 prices for games is already alot let alone if people want special editions etc.
If prices are going to rise maybe all DLC should be free.
And games should have to meet a standard requirement length of game etc…..
Alot of games today couldn’t justify their price as it stands let alone higher prices lol
What do you think Jonathan Connolly
If they raise the prices on gaming i would litually have no faith left in humanity
With all the Pre-orders, season passes, DLC, all the ad revenue and endorsements and not paying royalties to voice actors and taking almost all the money from new games sales to then think or suggest games should rise in price is obtuse and obscene. ?
No, we aren’t made of money they already charge like 50/60 quid for the base game and another for the season pass of shit that should be in the game anyway… So shove the price rise up your arse.
The age of great video games is over. Besides, there are too many of them to keep up with anymore. No one really cares about gaming anymore, it’s pretty lame.
Many games already do cost more than $60. A game bought with a season pass for DLC can cost $80 or more. Meanwhile, many indie or small developer games that by 1990’s standards would be full-priced titles cost $20 or even less.
Point is that very few games really cost $60 these days, at least in the long-term. This discussion about prices feels moot.
We already pay $60 for the new game that needs 20 patches after it’s released cause it’s buggy as shit, then we have to pay extra for DLC (most of the time). I’m hoping games like Uncharted: Lost Legacy and Sonic Forces starts a trend of releasing games at $40 instead of $60, cause we’re already putting $100, sometimes more, into these games when everything is said and done.
More money for unfinished shite…why not I mean I’m made of fucking money I am ?
Your starting position is flawed, so your premise similarly fails to make sense. It’s not up to us to support publishers who overspend, it’s up to them to budget more responsibly. Hardly any games sell millions, so they need to lower their expectations. Movies cost more to make than games do, but cost a lot less to watch. Everyone has £10 for a movie, maybe even 2 in a month, but very few have £80 for 2 games in a month. The market supports what it has capacity for, and it would therefore be wiser for the publishers to start working within this restriction.