It has been the case lately that video games are the highest grossing media platform in the world, even snuffing out the likes of film. That is quite a feat in itself but how did it get to that point?
There is no doubt that there have been some shady business practices as of late such as loot boxes, micro-transactions, etc. which have created an influx of revenue in the industry but that success doesn’t necessarily translate into consumer satisfaction. This is only a slight portion of the games that are available today however. Is that really where we want this industry to go?
Looking back at the past one can see that corporate muscle flexing began early on, especially if you were to read books such as “Console Wars” by Blake J. Harris. When looking at the 8 bit and 16 bit eras you can see that Nintendo came right out of the gate with their manhandling of retailers and their refusal to drop prices on games that weren’t selling, leaving retailers to go against Nintendo, take a loss by underselling software, and offering Sega (who was more flexible with retailers) shelf space in their stores where Nintendo was trying to maintain exclusivity. Nintendo is actually still selling older titles at full price today, a practice they can’t seem to part ways with and one that other platforms do almost as a religious practice.
One of the methods that gave Sega an early advantage over Nintendo wasn’t just getting their 16 bit system out prior to them but also being more flexible with the type of games that was available on the console. Nintendo was notorious, and kinda still is, for having an extensive vetting process for what type and the quality of the games which were on offer for their platform. Sega, on the other hand, was wanting to create a broader selection of titles for the consumer to choose what they wanted to play, by stark contrast, Nintendo wanted to choose what they gamer played.
We all know how that story ends and it is almost impossible to pinpoint the exact reason why Sega went under but ultimately was it because Sega made the wrong choices or was it because Nintendo, and at this point Sony, played a better game?
With the length of time and the manpower it takes to create games increasing in size as technology becomes more complex means the cost of games will increase as well. This is especially the case depending on the scope of the game with big budget titles reaching into the hundreds of millions such as Grand Theft Auto V at $265 million.
With this in mind, looking back at the average price of games over the years you can see that for the most part they haven’t really increased much. The average price of a SNES game was as high as $70-$80 which is about on par with what we are paying for today’s games.
Unlike games of yesteryear, many titles these days come with extra downloadable content that adds additional levels, quests, characters, etc to a title at an additional cost. I can attest for certain that I have probably dished out around $100 for games like Rocket League alone.
While downloadable content (DLC) becoming a staple in today’s gaming, it isn’t out of the ordinary to see the average total expense to the consumer reach well over $100 for a single game. With this in mind it is easy to see how the industry can over take other media as the leading form of entertainment in the world. Many have argued that DLC is something that shouldn’t exist and when a game releases the consumer should be paying for the full game rather than something that is “incomplete” (their words…not mine). Personally, I have no issue with DLC as it adds extra value to my experience with the title and increases the replayability factor. It is much akin to a trilogy of movies with the first two entries having cliffhangers at the end that will lead into the next film that you will have to buy a ticket for. So really, that is a mute argument since we don’t have people screaming that when they see a movie they should be getting the full story. Right?
I would really like to keep going on this but for the sake of not losing your attention I probably need to cut it short here.
So tell me, what are your thoughts on this? Which side of the fence are you on with micro-transactions, loot boxes, and DLC? Share your opinions in the comments below and be sure to check out our Community forums as well!
SourceCode, aka Lucas Hughes, is the creator/owner of Nintendo Playroom. He spends his days primarily as a husband/father/programmer/gamer. He loves all things Nintendo and is very passionate about the Nintendo community.