Bethesda's Howard, Midway's Eddy: Games 'Too Expensive'

As part of the second part of the Gamasutra podcast on next-gen game development, which will go live later today, panelists including Brian Eddy of Midway Games (Stranglehold), Bethesda Software's Todd Howard (The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion), and Evan Wells of Naughty Dog (Unnamed PS3 Title) discussed the range of issues facing developers and publishers, with a particular focus on the rising costs of games.
With regards to the high costs associated with next-gen development, and ways to pass this cost onto the consumer, Naughty Dog's Evan Wells noted that he does not believe that games have yet reached a point where they do not offer a good value for the price. "I think that compared to going out to see a movie, even at $60 a game, video games are a bargain. I think that for the time being a small increase is completely warranted", he commented.

However, Midway's Eddy, currently working on the Unreal Engine 3 title Stranglehold, disagreed, and commented that he thinks games are simply too expensive. "It's that quandary of 'the production costs are going up, so we have to charge more to get the money back', but I think it does remove some of the audience. And it removes more of the mass audience than the hardcore gamers. They can't simply afford that many games."

Eddy continued: "If I can buy two for $30, I may just buy those two for $30, even if they are not as good as the $60 game, because I feel like I am getting more value, and just more variety of gameplay. I think it affects sales. And the numbers and units that we can sell passed the hardcore gamers. "

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mikeeno76295d ago

Games are expensive. Fact. However, instead of showing the rest of the competitors that it is wrong, Sony plan to equal or surpass the game prices for PS3. £45 is too much for a game, especially for ports.

Cyclonus6295d ago

The first and only time I ever paid $70 + for a game was SFII: Turbo for SNES.

Droidbro6295d ago

The first and only time I paid $70 for a game was Oblivion. By the way, why is biching about game prices when he has Oblivion on the market for $50-70 dollars??!!!

DeathByNorrris6295d ago

it sucks that games are to expensive, but there's really nothing that can be done.

TheMART6295d ago

And expect PSZero games to be at or above 80 dollars/euro's a piece


I am glad I own a 360 and can buy games for 50 to 60 Euro's

Droidbro6295d ago

True but 60 is still ton of cheddar.

Moostache6295d ago

Here is the problem as I see it.

Pricing does not reflect quality of the game. A great game and a crap game both cost $60 US new, but they do NOT offer the same value for the purchase. The fact that a game like Oblivion may offer some gamers 200+ hours of gameplay, or for myself a game like BF2:MC will offer a couple hundred hours of online play, is not taken into account versus a game like Kameo, which I personally felt sucked (I know others did enjoy it, just not me).

So if a crap game is going to cost $60 and a great game is going to cost the same $60, I take offense at raising the prices across the board.

This is why diital distribution will be a reality far sooner than most people want to admit. Two words = EPISODIC CONTENT.

Developers costs can be reduced by reducing the size of the game initially produced - this is also why Blu-Ray for gaming purposes is a complete scam. Then after selling the engine and a few hours of gameplay ion the original disc, the publishers can start to realize profit gains on games which command extra content and a longer experience (ie god games) and loss limits on games that do not merit a full $60 retail purchase (ie crap games).

The waters are already being tested on the XB360 with Oblivion and GRAW expansions available on XBL; and truth be told the idea has been incubating in the PC world for a long time (with expansion packs and such).

Within the lifespan of the 360 and the PS3, I fully expect to see subscription models developed for episodic content of SP games and an explosion of online MP games that will offer many avenues of downloadable content.

Take for instacne a game like Madden in the US. EA could begin shipping a disc that has the game engine, the teams and the basic gameplay for SP and MP offline gaming. They could then offer online MP modes that feature weekly roster updates and the opportunity to "buy" new playbooks, new uniforms, new stadiums, "all-time greats". In general, they could offer anything that today might be seen as Easter Eggs or unlockable content as OPTIONAL, downloadable content.

This would allow the company to charge for the features that gamers use and would also allow the gamers to buy the type of games they want to play. Of course, this only becomes a reality when the publishers realize what the article said - games that are too expensive deflate the market for people willign to buy them.

There is a reason for the $20 PS Greatest Hits and the XB equivalent and for spikes in sales when games are dropped in price after a few months on the market. People are more liklely to "impulse buy" anything under $29.99 (if you doubt that, watch an infomercial and tell me whaat price the garbage they are selling is sold at - almost guarnteed to be $19.99 or $29.99). Overall sales could increase by selling more "bargin-level" discs and making additional revenue via downloadable content.

It will happen, maybe (probably) not exactly as I am outlining here, but parts of it are already here today. It is really just a question of how far will the developers and publishers take it...

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