Namco Bandai VP: Games Too Expensive

Namco Bandai Partners Vice President Olivier Comte has called for a worldwide summit of game companies in order to address the price of games and to explore new business models.

Speaking to MCV, Comte noted that other types of media have more than one way to procure income; music has physical media sales and live events, while movies are similar, with disc-based offerings in addition to the cinema. Games, meanwhile, “… just have one model, the sale of the product either as a box or a digital download. So we need to think about how we can develop a secondary business model.”

Comte continued:

I am convinced that in the future we must change the price of video games – they’re too expensive for the audience. With the cost of development and the retail margins, £40 (approximately $58.00 U.S.) is a fair price [to us], but for the consumer it is too much.

Comte thinks a fair price would be around £20 (approximately $29.00 U.S.), but that a lower price would necessitate shorter games, which could be fortified with downloadable content.

The executive said help is needed from first parties like Nintendo to enact such change, as “It is impossible for a publisher to make money on a DS game, for example, that goes on sale for £15.”

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  1. Helpless_writer says:

    I’m sorry but if they cut the original game into segments with each additional segment being an additional charge yeah Used Game sales may dry up but piracy will go up since that sounds ridiculous.

    If anything I like the pay scale idea and maybe they should try to influence people to buy it digital to save money. Maybe cut the price it takes to make the DVD, ship and create the box and all that. I’m sure that = enough of a portion to at least bring it to last Gen price levels… 

  2. Veritas says:

    Well if you guys are thinking that paying $60US for a brand new game is too expensive, have some sympathy for the Aussies. A brand new game for the PS3 or 360 can cost as much as $100-120AU ($83-99US) and that’s just for the standard editions. The limited edition versions of games can be even higher. Halo 3 Legendary Edition was $200AU ($166US)

    So to pay around $60US for a brand new game isn’t too expensive for me, in fact it’s only around $72AU. Although apparently New Zealand’s prices for games are a lot higher than Australia’s.

    Because of Australia’s expensive game prices, I rarely buy brand new games, and when I do it’s usually after the game itself has been out for a couple of years, it’s during a sale, or if they’re really good (but I did find a brand new copy of Final Fantasy XIII for $70AU =D) I normally buy pre owned games, because depending on the game and how long it’s been out they’re much cheaper than buying brand new.


    ‘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

  3. Chris Kimberley says:

    The economy of scale argument only applies if you actually manage to release a game.  In general that means you need a publisher who’s going to give you a whole bunch of money to make it.  Publishers don’t want to take chances with their money.  Anything that reduces their margins makes it riskier for them.  So if you want a publisher to give you money you need to convince them that your game will make them money.  If your costs are too high you’ll never get enough money to actually produce anything.

    As for the problems with online distribution that you mention.  Yes, access to it is a problem.  Not trusting it is just because it’s new and scary :P.  But the other arguments only hold up if what you get for your money is a single download.  Services nowadays remember what you bought so you can redownload it.  Steam being a great example.  In fact I could go to a friend’s place and use my Steam account to download a game on their computer no problem. 

    So far as I know there are no systems that support trading/selling games.  It’s not in the interests of the distributer to allow it so it probably wont happen.  It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is.


    Chris Kimberley

  4. Frommonday says:

    Economies of scale, my friend, and the wonderful world of supply, demand, and pricing.

    Far more people are willing to buy a new game for $29.99 to $39.99 than are willing to buy a new game for $64.99. Thirty bucks is an impulse buy. I’ve done it dozens of times in EB Games: I spot a title which looks like it might be a blast, and I’m willing to drop the coin to see if it is when the cost is $29.99.

    For me, $29.99 is just a couple hours of work at work. It only took me two hours of my working time to earn. Most people will give up a couple hours for an impulse buy. At $64.99, that’s a little over half my day’s work flushed down the drain if I don’t enjoy the game. Sure, A-List titles like Final Fantasy XIII or Red Dead Redemption can pull that kind of cash, but others won’t.

    The problem with online distribution is that a certain section of the market either doesn’t have access to it, or simply refuses to trust it. Speaking personally as a collector, I’m not a fan of buying a downloaded game because in five or ten years, if the hard drive on my console goes, so to does my copy. I won’t be able to get a new one legally without paying for another copy. Others dislike it because you can’t bring a downloaded copy of a game over to a friend’s place or trade it to them. More dislike it because no matter how big your hard drive is, sooner or later you’ll run out of space.

  5. ecco6t9 says:

    I seem to remember 4 years into the PS1 era we had $10 new releases, 4 years into the PS2 era we had $20 new games, now 4 years into the PS3 era we should have $30-$40 new games.


    And does anyone remember when Namco charged $20 for the first Katamari and $60 for the newest?

  6. Cauldrath says:

    Or, they could just charge $100 for all day one purchases, then drop the price by $20 every week until it’s down to $20 a month later.  That would also help prevent multiplayer games from having overloaded servers because new players would come in in smaller bursts, rather than one big one.

  7. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Price point the product at 25$ and not a penny more, that alone will open up the amrket and help it compete with the video market. It can be done but no one is willing to take that frist step they do not have to thus they will not.

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! CP/IP laws should not effect the daily life of common people!

  8. Chris Kimberley says:

    The big problem with asking the console developers to drop the licensing fees is that they already take a bath on the consoles themselves.  Every PS3 and XBox sold loses Sony and MS money.  Pretty sure the Wii is cheap enough to make that it either makes Nintendo money or loses them so little as to not matter.  Since that’s their only place to make money they need to be careful about it.  They can’t afford to make the same amount off of Halo that they do off of Hello Kitty.  And if they’re not making money they’ll stop making consoles.

    Also, smaller publishers can’t afford to pay higher fees for low selling games.  That might cut out some shovelware, but it’ll also kill developers that make innovative games.  If publishers know it’ll cost them $X to license plus the development costs (even if it sells 0 copies) they’ll be even more cautious about new IP.

    What I’d like to see is more games made with an episodic model.  The more you can cut down development costs the cheaper publishers can make games.  So if you have developers that can make a 1-3 hour episode and put it on XBLA, PSN, WiiWare, they can sell it for far less.  You also cut out physical packaging costs.  And prevent used games sales.  If enough people buy the game you can release more episodes.

    You still have a high-ish development cost for the first one since you need to build the nuts and bolts of the game, but later ones have a lower development cost since they’re mostly just added content.

    Hopefully smaller games would also mean better testing coverage and higher quality.  But let’s not expect too much. 😉


    Chris Kimberley

  9. Frommonday says:

    It’s always going to be up to Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. As I understand it, the licensing cost to publish a game on a console is a set rate per disc. These companies need to offer a different option so that companies can produce new games and sell them more cheaply.

    Instead of charging a flat rate per game, charge a percentage of the MSRP. Or allow companies to flat out buy a license for X amount of dollars, regardless of the number of units sold. Or anything BUT something which artificially increases the price.

    Not to mention that this practice would, by and large, render the used game market obsolete. For one, more units being sold means that more new games are on the shelf, which means that there’s less shelf space for the stuff that’s come in used. For two, the players who see the $64.99 price tag as a barrier would probably be willing to shell out thirty bucks for a new copy of a game.

    I buy the majority of my games used, and honestly, I do PREFER to purchase them new. However, I’ve got a specific budget for my gaming thanks to my other financial obligations: $100. At the current price, that means I could buy ONE new game, which I’m then stuck with for two weeks… To which I say, no. I’ll buy two or three used games at $30-$35 a piece, thanks. Getting home and having options about what I can play is something I enjoy.

    I’d prefer developers get my money. In fact, I bought Bayonetta new instead of used specifically because I want to see a sequel. However, most games aren’t worth the seventy dollars companies want to charge.


  10. Chris Kimberley says:

    "Try letting the publisher set the price"

    Just whom do you think is setting the price?  To the best of my knowledge there are no MS, Sony or Nintendo rules about launch prices.


    Chris Kimberley

  11. Thomas McKenna says:

    How about not requiring all games to be the same price upon release.  Try letting the publisher set the price based on the quality of the game.  This way,  you don’t cheapen good games by having something like Mass Effect priced for $60 right next to Hello Kitty Island Adventure for the same price.  Every time I see a barbie, bratz, pony, or dora game for retail price, a part of me dies on the inside.

    Price the game for what it’s worth, not at an enforced flat rate.

  12. Roh02 says:

    create a new game shorter than normal (think halo 3 odst or maybe ratchet and clank quest for booty if it was a little longer) sell it for £20 release paid dlc for a year or so then make a full price special edition that has the original game all the dlc and probably something new on par with the first part that was on the disc.

    this lets developers in essesance get some income througout the course of creating a full game all but eliminating those pesky release dates that publishers like to push developers to meet too soon.

  13. Thad says:

    Maybe they could make short games, that you could play in one sitting, and put them in a public setting where people could take turns playing them, charging a small transaction fee for each play.

    If only such places existed.

  14. Manawarp says:

    A scheme where you can either pay full price up front or play an inflated price for each section of a game would probably work well.

    For single player games this would be easy as you’d just sell the first section, then the next, and so on.

    For multiplayer games, you’re damaging the experience of people who paid in full if you tell them they can only play certain maps with other people that paid in full.  So I think it’d probably work better to use a sort of subscription model where after so much time you just get to keep the game without further payments, but at that point you’ve paid more than the normal price.

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