Questionable business practices show no games are being played among game companies.
$59.99. Fifty-nine dollars and ninety-nine cents. This once represented the value of a brand new Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 video game. The entire game, not part of the game as the company waits a few weeks to bombard players with plenty of downloadable content that can cost from $0.99 to $25.00. The entire, fully functional game, that didn’t need multiple patches to fix small changes that should’ve been fixed before the game even hit shelves during quality assurance testing.
Those problems are just a few that have developed since the launch of 7th-generation gaming consoles beginning in 2005 with the Xbox 360. The intense integration of the Internet into the consoles has made it easy for companies to provide extra content for consumers by placing it in the Xbox Live Marketplace or the Playstation Store for gamers to download.
This has unfortunately taken away the importance of releasing a high quality game, as glitches, and patches, for games have become commonplace, as the company can release a game with major glitches, with the ability to easily fix the game if consumer outcry is large enough.
Gaming giant Electronic Arts won an online tournament on Consumerist.com for “Worst Company in America” last month, beating companies such as AT&T and Bank of America along the way. The title comes on the heels of controversy about the ending of much-hyped title Mass Effect 3, but EA has plenty of past failures with broken games. Going through the archives of sports gaming website Pastapadre.com shows that since 2010, EA has consistently failed at producing sports games. EA released both Madden NFL and NCAA Football 2011 titles with major glitches that led to five patches for Madden and three for NCAA, all of which fixed basic gameplay functions such as how players actually played and publicized game modes. EA also had to cancel their long-running basketball title, NBA Live, in 2010 because the demo received so much negative reaction a week before release. They also skipped the entire 2012 game cycle for NBA Live, and won’t release a new hoops game until NBA Live 2013.
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Capcom has been generally regarded as the kings of withholding content from consumers and milking gamers for money in the last few years. In February 2009, they released Street Fighter IV, only to release Super Street Fighter IV, with 10 new characters, new online game modes, and performance tweaks to the game for $40, all things that could’ve been released as DLC or free patches were sold as a standalone game. Capcom did the same with the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 title, coming out with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 only 9 months later for $40.
This is a more horrific act when you consider how video games are priced in relation to other disc-based modes of entertainment. Music CDs come out priced between $10 and $20, depending on the artist and number of discs. Movies come out on DVD at about $20 and at a maximum of $30 for a Blu-ray movie, for a non-special edition movie. Movies also come back with multiple special features on the disc in addition to just the movie.
Other than gamers being unusually willing to pay for it, what makes a video game such a premium good that it costs 2-3 times as much as a movie? Even with rising development budgets for video games, they’re still exponentially lower than movie budgets, yet movies cost much less for consumers.
Now, you probably are just thinking gamers should just buy used games if they don’t wish to shell out $60 for brand-new games. That would be a great idea, if publishers and developers weren’t trying to kill the used game industry, which companies like GameStop and Gamefly have thrived from.
Game companies’ biggest issue with the used games industry is that they see no profits from the buying and selling of used games. In an effort to combat used games, some companies have implemented tactics such as provided incentives for pre-ordering new games and adding one-time use codes for online gaming.
Most companies are mum on their dislike of the used games market, but THQ Creative Director of their wresting games, Cory Ledesma, voiced his discontent loud and clear. “I don’t think we really care whether used game buyers are upset because new game buyers get everything. So if used game buyers are upset they don’t get the online feature set I don’t really have much sympathy for them.”
Ledesma isn’t the only executive coming out against used games. Activision COO Thomas Tippi stated that they “are still evaluating various possibilities for greater participation in the used-games business. What’s been working the best so far is providing additional content and therefore limiting the supply to used games.”
Used games consumers can still get online content for these games, but it will cost extra as big companies are trying to force their way into the secondhand market for video games.
The state of the video game industry is surely in a state of disarray, with companies putting producing quality products further and further behind gaining profit in their priorities. As long as video games continue to ride down this slope, the consumers will continue to suffer.
How would you change the gaming industry? Let us know in the comments below.
Brandon Short is a student at Columbus State University and can be followed on Twitter at @9DeuceSupreme.
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