Friday, March 18, 2011

price vs. quality

Picture this: You are at your local Funcoland (I know right?) and you see a newly released game priced at $39.99 or lower. You haven't heard much about it but at that price, how could it possibly be any good, right? I, like many of you, have found myself thinking this very thought and probably overlooked a game that could have some provided fresh gameplay and unique mechanics.

This idea of lower prices equating to lower quality games is one that has been lingering around the traditional gaming world for years and is a theory that should be reexamined. Suppose Activision wanted to take a chance on a new game but wasn't sure how the public would react to it. They could either a) list the game at the usual $59.99 price point and hope enough people will take a chance with it to make a profit, b) list the game at a lower price ($29.99-$49.99) or c) just shut that developer right down because who cares about talent. Am I right? (spoiler: no, Activision. You're not right). Let's also assume that in neither case the title got much market exposure prior to release so the general public is going into the store blind. Always a good strategy...

So, our beautiful new electronic masterpiece ripens and finds it's home on store shelves. At the $59.99 price point, you are sure to hear comments akin to, "Sixty bucks?! I've never even heard of it. Where's Call of Duty?" or "I'll wait for a used copy". Turn on flip mode (which is the greatest, but you learned that from Busta as I did) and you'll hear consumers saying, "If a game releases at forty dollars, it can't possibly be good. Where's Call of Duty?" In either situation your potential buyer was turned away by the price and lack of marketing which sent them out the door with Call of Duty.

My point here is that if publishers want to take chances on games and sell them at a lower price, they need quality marketing and a higher degree of transparency. This let's the consumer know that you are standing behind your game and you are proud of developers work at any price point. It is my opinion that several games such as Enslaved and Blur would have had much greater chances of success if their publishers marketed them well AND released them at a limited reduced price.

I am perfectly aware that this is simply a pipe dream and trends point towards higher prices, but it's something that should be considered the next time you see a lower priced game. Do your research and see if that game will be a good fit for your style. You might just be depriving yourself of an experience you'd otherwise look back on with fondness.

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