Here's Why Games Cost $70 Now, and It's Not What You Think

More Expensive Games Makes Sense, But For Who?
Credit: Creative Commons

More Expensive Games Makes Sense, But For Who?
Credit: Creative Commons

Games often cost $70 now, but why is that? If it's not because of inflation, what's going on? The answer here is that, well, it's complicated, but ultimately, the gaming market is in a weird place where the price hike only makes sense. Don't understand? Not to worry, because in this article we'll tell you everything you need to know about why games are more expensive.

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More Expensive Games Makes Sense, But For Who?

More Expensive Games Makes Sense, But For Who? 2
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Credit: Creative Commons

Games may be, in some cases, more expensive to make today than in the past, but it's also true that many games make much more money than ever before because of other ways to monetize outside of the upfront ticket price. However, not all games make more money today.

Sony, for example, has a suite of IP and studios that make huge, ambitious games that are beloved and are often singleplayer, niche experiences without any microtransactions or ways to spend extra money on the game. These kinds of games are undoubtedly more costly to make today, so Sony deciding to sell Demon's Souls for $70 isn't particularly shocking or offensive.

However, the games market doesn't really do variable pricing. Outside of indie stuff, major AAA games all cost the same price (when it comes to a standard edition, that is) and have for decades, meaning that if some companies start charging more, all the other companies will follow. And since some companies like Sony can justify the increase and may even require it for the business to make sense, inevitably the whole market will slowly start charging $70.

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Ultimately, in some cases there's justification for increased prices, but many companies who are less justified in raising prices will do so too because the $70 pricetag for games quickly has become normalized, so why not make more money if you can make more money?

Free Games Make the Most Money

More Expensive Games Makes Sense, But For Who? 3
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Credit: Creative Commons

It sounds counter-intuitive, but it's true. All the biggest successes in video games come down to either cheap or free-to-play games, whether it's League of Legends or Genshin Impact. These games often remove the barrier to entry by making the core experience free while making near infinite amounts of money through microtransactions and other recurrent forms of monetization.

These games don't want you to spend an upfront sum of money and never pay again, they want you to spend money, over time, that will slowly and eventually vastly outstrip what you'd pay in a single go traditionally. So, in many ways, the more expensive the game, the less money you'll make, because you'll reach that many fewer players.

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This is a weird place for the industry to be, because if free-to-play games make the most money, you'd imagine they're the most popular and that these games are the games everybody wants. This isn't exactly the case. Everybody likes free games you can try out without having to pay first, of course, but many are weary of the monetizing elements in free-to-play games undermining the actual game experience.

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So, in many ways, gamers really want and prefer to pay an upfront sum and then get the full game, but many more gamers will happily play free-to-play games and spend money on them. This makes for a confusing situation where the core gaming audience wants companies to make expensive, ambitious games that'll make them less money than often cheaper-to-make free-to-play games that will be more profitable.

To help keep up with this demand while still making reasonable business decisions, raising prices of premium games can make sense. However, the problem often becomes that expensive games that charge upfront still try and go for recurrent monetization anyways, totally undermining why gamers were even willing to pay the upfront price in the first place.

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Expensive Games Are Going Away

The fact of the matter is that games are becoming cheaper to play and more expensive to 'fully experience' and this trend probably isn't going away. There's a reason that the $20 Minecraft with microtransactions is the best-selling game of all time and not The Last of Us.

Games may indeed get more expensive before they all become cheaper, but eventually, it's not going to make financial sense to spend 5 or 10 years developing a massive 1000+ hour experience that has beyond CGI levels of graphical fidelity and sell that for $60 and move on.

It will make much more sense to sell that as a live service, maintained for a decade, that costs nothing to play but a lot to play well in or get the most out of or play for a long time. This may sound dystopian, but that's not always the case. Whether it's Old School Runescape or Path of Exile or anything else, there are games with these monetization methods that aren't doing bad jobs of it.

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