Setting the Stage
So the basic pricing matrix is something like this:
- AAA: $60
- Download only: $40-50
- Handheld (3DS, Vita): $40
- Independent: < $40 (some times way less)
- Titles a few years old don't normally leave retail below $30 but $20 is rock bottom for retail
- Mobile (Phone) Games < $5
So part of what brought on this post was complaints about multiplayer only games also selling at the $60 mark and the big culprit: Battlefront!
Let's see you can guy the Ultimate Edition for $120 ($125 if you buy in parts, so props for not adding more to that price tag).
But let's look a this from a development stand point... games take longer with a MUCH larger team (roughly 10x), and multiplayer is so much harder to balance than single player that charging less for something that takes more time and has almost unlimited replay-ability for the target audience is a strange request. I do however see the arguments for paying $50 for unknown content and the allegations that the game was missing to much content to release as a "full game." But I'll save that for another time and focus on price points.
The Problem as I see it
So here is what I see as the actual problem... people pay $60 for a very short game: The Order 1886 was criticized heavily for it's length (didn't personally play it).
And paying $40 for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate that I've sunk 100+ hours into. Other good examples are the Souls' games, Skyrim, etc.
Thoughts About the Solution
The easy part is pointing out problems, the hard part is fixing them. I game for enjoyment, so games I enjoy more I would pay more for... i.e. Monster Hunter is worth at least $60. Nintendo came up with an interesting solution with it's branch of into mobile of treating them like coin-up's and you buy "plays" This works to some extent as you pay more for games you play more, and little to nothing for games you don't. The problem with this is at some point I want to flat out own my games. I still buy disk copies as at some point Microsoft and Sony will stop supporting downloads and I want to be able to play my console games.
Another possibility is pricing games based on the estimated average playtime. While this is probably the most reasonable it will lead to padding content in games again (something that has been getting better), and very high prices and hence bared entry to things like RPGs. Then you also have the multiplayer games that require a large player base to function and technically could have unlimited playing hours.
I think the actual solution will be fore the gaming consumers to be more open to a range of prices. Maybe DLC packs are the answer, but with a more defined description of the content you are paying for. The Batman game as an example was rated very well while the DLC was not.
It will be interesting to see what happens!