Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Cost of Gaming

    ``Dead Rising: Case Zero.`` It's a little game that's caused a huge buzz in the gaming industry. When released on the XBOX Live Arcade for $5.00, bucking the $15.00 trend, it blew up. It smashed the first-week sales record of any game previously released. Not only that, but the game introduced the world and mechanics of 'Dead Rising' to a new subset, causing more interest in a game that many had previously been unsure of. Something as simple as a $5.00 pricetag has suddenly become one of the most brilliant marketing strategies we've seen in gaming for a long, long time.

   On the outside, it may be easy to see why a $5 pricetag would make such a big impact; but the roots to this phenomenom go deeper. When news of ``Case Zero's`` success hit, I compiled a questionnaire. I sought out gamers of all varieties --- young, old, hardcore, noob, rich, and poor. I asked questions ranging from their interest in the series itself to their opinion on the X-Box Live Arcare to, finally, their opinion on pricing in gaming.
    It was when the little matter of money came up that my interviewees suddenly became passionate. In most of the questionnaires, the answers prior to this would be given in the routine neutral manner; but when asked about how fair they thought current retail prices are, they became aggitated, in most cases.

    Yet, what was surprising was that, when asked about what the capped retail price for new games should be, I got one answer back repeatedly. "Not $60. Fifty dollars."

    Fifty dollars! It's a ten dollar difference! This is what gamer's are angry about. "I used to buy games every week, but now I don't. Sixty dollars is too much," said one gamer. When pointed out that the difference was only ten dollars, they replied, "But it's ten dollars I could be spending on something else."

    Other gamers expressed similar sentiments. Yet, we gamers suddenly start to look like cheap bastards, I need to stress the other collective line of thinking that appeared amongst my interviewees --- we will pay for quality.

    A few subjects said that, while ecstatic that ``Case Zero`` was priced so low, they felt as if they had cheated the developers and would have paid $10 for it, but not $15. It also came to light that, in general, gamers were happy to pay $60 for certain games, such as ``Red Dead Redemption``, ``Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition``, and ``Mass Effect 2.`` They felt as if they got their money worth, as oppposed to other games priced at $60 that are four hours long with a tacked on multiplayer --- we're all looking at you, Kane and Lynch!

    So, considering this, what is it that gamers want to spend their money on? Well-made arcade games such as ``Case Zero`` and games with quality and quantity as mentioned in the prior paragraph. When we're denied these things and still asked to put out the dollars we've struggled all weeks to make - we get pissed. We become less likely to buy from those developers again. Not to mention we take to our twitters, facebooks, and blogs to bash the offending game with a fury that hasn't been witnessed since the Spanish Inquisition.

    So, I'll just say it ouright incase someone didn't get it - gamers don't want to be gouged. GAMERS DON'T WANT TO BE GOUGED. The standard of $60 shouldn't be a standard whatsoever. It should fluctuate with the product. As ``Dead Rising: Case Zero`` demonstrated, when you honestly price what you're offering, you're going to get people actually buying your game rather than having the thing sitting on store shelves untouched and, eventually, ending up in the bin for a quarter of its original price. ``Case Zero`` also showed that, if you love your gamers, your gamers will love you. And there's no better love than the love of a gamer. We're devoted to our cores.

THANK YOU to everyone who helped me with this article!
Thank you to http://www.geekgirldiva.com/ and http://twitter.com/Nellachronism for helping me find subjects! Couldn't have done it without you two! You're the best.
Thank you to the gamers for allowing me to ask my questions. You are all fantastic!