Why Do Games Cost $60? Who Knows?

You walk into a game store to pick up the latest AAA title, be it for a console or PC, and you are probably going to pay in the neighborhood of $60, unless, of course you get Rock-Band-like peripherals with your order.

Have you ever given any thought as to what goes into that price point? David Thomas over at Crispy Gamer did, and came up with an interesting analysis, examining possible reasons such as reasonable greed, consumer stupidity or evil conspiracy. He quotes a few industry officials, including the ECA’s Hal Halpin:

"I’m not sure that we’ll see a standard $70 price point at all," observes Halpin. "To my mind, emerging technologies, subscriptions and episodic and downloadable content should all enable price drops — increasing accessibility to a much wider audience. Free-to-play, ad-supported models, too, diversify the price landscape."

Definitely an interesting read. What is your perspective? Will prices ever come down?

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  1. 0
    starsrift says:

     PC Gamer did a feature on the cost of a video game several years ago, and I don’t imagine much has changed from that price model. I don’t remember the exact details – but the developer only sees a fraction of that cost, and the interesting thing is that indie devs can easily make more per title than most big companies do on published releases. They don’t sell as many copies, though.

  2. 0
    lordlundar says:

    "I’m not sure that we’ll see a standard $70 price point at all," observes Halpin. "To my mind, emerging technologies, subscriptions and episodic and downloadable content should all enable price drops — increasing accessibility to a much wider audience. Free-to-play, ad-supported models, too, diversify the price landscape."

    Hal, I would hate to argue with you, but Publishers are already trying for the $70+ price tag on AAA titles. Batman: Arkham Asylum for the PS3 is at the $70 mark and MW2 is potentially going to be priced for $90+.

    Sadly, the bulk of the reason for this is to see if they can get away with it. It’s why they do it on heavily promoted AAA titles, where people will pay the price, regardless of how much.

  3. 0
    V4nI114 Ic3 says:

    maybe i just havent bought a PC game in so damn long, but i thought PC games were still only 50 bucks standard?

    if that is still the case, that pisses me off to no end, because why is it a PC title, that has all the same marketing, and staff, and press coverage, and developement time, etc… as a console title has a 10 dollar less price tag?

    its all irrelevant though.  i dont buy games until their new price is 40 dollars or less now.  little big planet needs to get on the ball with that shit.

  4. 0
    NovaBlack says:

    ”You walk into a game store to pick up the latest AAA title, be it for a console or PC, and you are probably going to pay in the neighborhood of $60, unless, of course you get Rock-Band-like peripherals with your order. ”



    pc titles the same price as Console titles?????????


    Um maybe in the US.. in the UK the average console game is £40 on release whilst you can preorder a pc version of the same game for £17.99 or get it £24.99 on release..


    MAssive price difference

  5. 0
    ZAR says:

    60$ for real property (including a box and a manual)? Deal! 60$ for “the right only” to install a software four times? No way!

    And most certainly no 60$ for Steam, DRM or other attempts to steal money from people the easy way.


  6. 0
    Veritas says:

    Feel for the Aussies here. Games in Australia can go as high as AU$120 (about US$105, no that isn’t a typo), HIGHER if it’s a Collector’s Edition. If I recall correctly the Legendary Edition of Halo 3 was AU$200 (around US$174)

    I rarely buy games brand new, and if I do buy them brand new I wait until the prices have dropped down or if there’s a sale on. Although some stores can be really unreliable with their pricing. (One EB Games store was selling Enchanted Arms for AU$90, but another one in the smae state and city was selling it for AU$50. WTH?)

    I know you guys see games that are around US$60 when they’re first released as a lot of money too spend, but for me (and I guess many other Australians) wouldn’t mind spending that much for a brand new AAA game in Australia. As for now I’ll just wait until the prices go down before I buy AAA games.


    ‘Asking for a horror game to tone itself down for the kiddies is like sending an order of spaghetti back to the kitchen and asking that it be made less Italian.’ -Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

  7. 0
    deuxhero says:

    Funny thing, most games I buy are the old ones that have had a major price drop (mostly because the thoughts on quality are not dominated by hype suckers, but price is good too).

  8. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    batman:AA 30$





    Doom 3:15$

    Quake 4:20$

    Assassins creed:25$



    Bascily under 40$ for any game….

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  9. 0
    Wormdundee says:

    I’m not sure where you live then, perhaps in some gaming utopia. Almost all new releases in the US costs 60 on release, some for 50. In Canada you can bump up each of those prices by 10 dollars. If you buy a PC game it’s generally cheaper by 10 dollars in both the US and Canada.

    I don’t buy console games at that price only at 29.99 and below, but that’s definitely what the prices are.

  10. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Because the average retard consumer BELIEVES it when they are told "This game is worth $60 because it is the BEST GAME EVAR!!!111"


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  11. 0
    Plankitechet says:

    $60? I’ve never heard of a game costing that much, and only a scarce few for $50. Why would anyone buy a game for more than $29.99? Even that’s a high price.

  12. 0
    Gardog says:

    Oh, I agree – I stay away from used games because I’m paranoid the disc will be scratched or the guy who handled the instruction manual doesn’t wash his hands


    The point was that if lowering the price point to $40 resulted in higher sales and thus more profit for the publishing company, then I think someone would have done it by now. Publishers will never release the studies they do, because it could inadvertantly lead to accusations of price fixing or price gouging. A third party study of how much a game sells new vs. how much it sells at a discounted price vs. how much it sells used would be useful.

  13. 0
    chadachada321 says:

    But used prices are only like $5 less than the new prices. Also, people are less likely to buy a used version that saves a couple bucks, because it is used, unless it is a large change in price.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  14. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    It’s even more broken than that…

    Movies almost always get their money back while in theaters, and the costs of printing discs and advertising DVD sales are included in the initial expenditures.

    He was dead when I got here.

  15. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Me, because Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy got a US release. Slightly edited, but a release nonetheless. Some other title is, of course, possible, but not Fahrenheit. (Unless he REALLY wanted to see 2 of the most hilariously awkward sex scenes ever.)

    And more to the point, I was just cracking a joke.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  16. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    In my experience the games with the severe DRM aren’t even worth the effort to download.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  17. 0
    Flamespeak says:

    Don’t believe that for an instant.

    Graphics have improved, but they do every gen, and surround sound was almost standard last gen.

    MS raised the cost to see if people would pay that much for their stuff, and they did, so now it is standard. Give Nintendo props for saying they will never release a game (not counting peripheral packed ones) for more than $50.  There is no reason we are paying as much for games as we are except for the fact that we are BUYING them for that much.

    I know I would sell something at a higher price if people would continue buying it at such a price. that is just common business logic.

  18. 0
    Vake Xeacons says:

    Even CEs tend to be same price. Although, they used to be $40.

    But yes, prices will come down. It costs less to make a game than a movie. Why the price? Because of a limited audience. Movies make most of their profit off theatres, while games have to sell copies to make money. Once games are officially mainstream, games will sell more copies, enabling lower prices.

  19. 0
    JB says:

    I guess I should have mentioned that all my games are for the PC. Also, I bought the "Enhanced Edition" of the Witcher and that was an absolute amazing game. I thought everything about it was great (story, graphics, and even the combat once I got used to it). I can’t wait for the sequel. Same goes for Bioshock. They were both great.

    I would have like to been able to enjoy Gothic 3 but it was never finished. Piranha Bytes was, for lack of a better word, fired as developer of the game series and the community had to create their own patches just to make the game somewhat playable. I finally gave up trying to get the game to work about a year. As for Oblivion… I got 300+ hours outta that game.

  20. 0
    Gardog says:

    Your statement makes the assumption that price point is the *only* thing holding back sales. I agree that lowering the price makes the game more attractive to consumers and allows them to buy more games with their current budget, but would it be enough to make up the $20 that the publisher just gave up on the sale? Keep in mind that Sony & Microsoft won’t lower their cut of the profit and the cost of goods is a fixed cost, so the entirety of that price drop will be borne by the publisher.

    I can’t say for certain, but I would think that if dropping the price to $40 would generate enough additional sales to exceed the profit they’d make at $60, then *someone* would have tried it by now. Do second hand game sales get tracked on a per-title basis? If so, then it wouldn’t be too hard to track how many units get sold at full price and how many units get sold at used prices and extrapolate from there to see how many would get sold at prices in between. It might make a more interesting (and useful) study than the video game census…

  21. 0
    SeanB says:

    Yup, me too. Unless it’s older and cheap, i dont buy it.

    Bought a copy of X3 recently, it was 4.99

    But before that, i dont remember the last time i bought a game. I do remember pirating at least 30 though.

  22. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    I "preview" (witch is as easy to do if not easier on the WII and 360)all the games befor I buy them and I bought 2 copies of wolfenstien becuse I did, and yes I like the game 😛


    I also play the games I buy without the DRM they infect them in. Hell I wont even install steam…..

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  23. 0
    JustChris says:

    Makes me wonder what percentage of members on GP pirate games on a frequent basis. I already know there’s a strong PC gaming community, but at the same time we do not like the draconian security practices that some PC game publishers are known for. And some people wonder why I haven’t fully adopted commercial PC games…

  24. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    I’m a PC gamer and I pirate what I play. So I’m part of the vicious circle. And I don;t care less. Console games haven’t been worth 60 bucks/40-50 pound in nearly a decade.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  25. 0
    Monte says:

    The movie comparison is broken…

    Movies usually make back the money spent on the film while the movie is out in theaters… thus the DVD’s they sell afterward is mostly profit (excluding the cost to make and distribute disks, and to avertise the dvd’s)… they can sell the DVD’s for anywhere between dirt cheap to however high the consumers are willing to pay… when it comes down it it, movie DVD’s are actually most comparable to games that have been out for a year or two and have thus had price drops down to like $20-30

    And that’s probably part of why games are $60… so that they can make back the money they spent to make the game… after that, they milk it to get profits, and then drop the price only when interest dies down.

    fact is, as long as gamers have shown themselves willing to spend $60 on a game, then the price will NEVER fall… it’s only when we collectively start to refuse to buy games at those prices will the prices go down… but we won’t…

  26. 0
    Anonononomous says:

    The price on AAA games is not likely to drop.


    The movie comparison is also pretty bad because movies have many chances to make money (theaters, pay-per-view, TV licensing, rentals, etc.) and games only make money though one avenue.

  27. 0
    KayleL says:

    The price will drop in the future. How many games do you see with a $300 million budget? You see that with movies like Spiderman 3. Even though Spiderman 3 got mixed reviews, it made it’s money back quick. Also, at what price DVDs are sold at? Around $20-25.

    I know games are not widely adopted as Hollywood movies, but it will get to that point in the not so distant future.

  28. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    I agree. When that change occurs, the Wii might actually start getting decent games. Trying to make the Wii compete with the 360 and PS3 in graphical terms at the expense of gameplay and decent use of the wiimote is stupid. (Looking at YOU Sega’s Conduit!)


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  29. 0
    Neeneko says:

    That might be harder to say then first impression actually.

    I have gathered that there is an increasing consumer burnout on ‘more and better graphics’.  What was originally seen as just nostalgic whining about how much better games were in the past is becoming increasingly mainstream.   Now that download services (Steam, WiiWare, etc) are making older games available for new purchase people are increasingly discovering (based off thier needs at least) that older games actually did have more enjoyable gameplay and that the improved graphics did not add enough value to justify higher costs.

    I would not be surprised if we started seeing a resurgace of lower graphics titles.  Granted it is hard to get funding within the industry due to marketing group think.. but as always, where there is a consumer demand there will be companies willing to cater to it.

    And if these companies manage to produce products with compelling gameplay at a lower cost due to lower graphics and still bring in similar cash, economics dictate that they will expand.

  30. 0
    JB says:

    As it is now, I don’t see the price for games getting lower. Even if games are turning towards micro transactions and subscriptions we’ve become accustomed to paying what we do now. The exec’s know we’re already willing to pay that so they’re gonna charge what they think they can get away with.

    If a game is worth it I’ll pay for it. Games like "The Witcher", "Bioshock", "ES4", and a few others, were definitely worth every penny I paid… some I even bought the collecter’s edition. I definitly got my money’s worth with the amount of time I spent on those.

    Games like Spore (DRM), Gothic 3 (terribly programmed with game breaking bugs), and Simcity Societies (just… dissapointing. (God, I wish someone would make Simcity 5!!!)), however, aren’t worth the time it took me type this post.

  31. 0
    Monte says:

    I think i heard that’s how much they pay for games down in Australia…

    Honestly, more than likely all they would need to do is make the move gradual… People blinked when 360 games came out at $10 over the normal $50; but we came to except $60 as the new norm… if they raised it to $70 we would do the same? if they later on raised it to $80, would we do the same? frankly, the average consumer probably would…

  32. 0
    Stealthguy says:

    I’d really love to watch the sinking ship the Industry will become if they ever okay 99.99 per (normal, non-super-special-deluxe-edition)game. That shit better be able to engage my girlfriend and I in a threesome without shocking our bits crispy.

  33. 0
    saregos says:

    I’d say it’s a necessary side-effect of the cost of making a game.  Yes, I’d love to see the cost of games go down, but I don’t know how much that’d be possible.

    Episodic games should be cheaper, but in reality, they already are cheaper.  Tales of monkey island on PC was what, $35 for all 5 episodes?  Even Half-life Ep. 2 went the route of releasing many games for the single $50 price point, and if you checked steam at the time I’m fairly certain you could buy all of the games seperately.

    Between the various download services on the consoles, along with the excellent download services on PC, I think it’s fairly safe to say that games only wind up being on a retail shelf for $60 if their creators really believe (right or wrong) that they’re worth that much.  At least on PC (which is all I have first-hand experience with) most of what Halpin mentions is already implemented.

    — Sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known

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