A former creative director who worked on Bullet Storm and Painkiller for developer People Can Fly thinks that paying $60 in 2014 for a video game is ridiculous. In a recent interview with GII, Adrian Chmielar called that practice "a little insane."
"Everybody is smart in retrospect, and looking back I do think that we were possibly among the first victims of this giant shift in gaming, where the middle-class AAA games began to die–not 'middle-class' by quality, but we didn't have ten multiplayer modes and co-op and all of that," Chmielarz said of Bulletstorm in an interview with GamesIndustry International. "The saying in the industry right now is, 'If you want to sell a game for $60, to the player it has to feel like $200.'"
"Bulletstorm was a $60 game for $60," he added. "And these days $60 for a game sounds basically crazy, when there are literally hundreds of high quality games out there for a much smaller price–even on console. In 2014, $60 for a game is a little insane."
Chmielarz also talked said that publishers often seek to turn franchises into something they are not supposed to be. He uses Dead Space as an example.
"That could be a profitable series, but only if you're smart about the budget and the content," he said.
Since leaving People Can Fly, Chmielarz co-founded The Astronauts, developer of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, which he says will shy away from having filler simply to justify a $60 price tag.
"There is a necessity to add filler in AAA games, whether it be collectibles or one more wave of enemies," Chmielarz said. "It's unfortunate, and it's also proof that the world is insane." He points out how players' calls for longer games clash with data suggesting "70 or 80 percent of people never finish the game."
"But I think that's connected to the price, and there we go again. Lower prices would allow us to stop thinking about filler for our games, and start focusing on making the experience just right," he said. "You have to live with the fact that some players will complain no matter what, but I think that when your game is tight, and the story you want to tell is told exactly the way you want, I think the effect is way more powerful than anyone complaining that they didn't get 100 hours of entertainment for their €20."