Sunday, February 05, 2023

The Economy and Ethics of Game Purchasing - Part 1 - Introduction


The 70-dollar game

The fall of 2022 saw Activision announced that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II's MSRP would be $70. It was like a flare being lit with the likes of Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft and EA announcing to commit their AAA MSRP also at $70. This may not be universally welcome (what consumer wants to pay more?) but it was expected and in a way is probably a little later than expected. Video games are consumer products and their industry has no immunity to inflation. While inflation itself has has eased now to 8.2 after a 38-year high of 9.2 in Oct 2022 and the US rate has eased more considerably from 9.06 in July to 6.45 now, game MSRPs don't come down, ever, and are here to stay. 

In this part of the world it means console game prices rise to €80. Activision have charged this for Modern Warfare II, EA will charge it for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Square Enix did most recently for Forspoken.

I don't and will unlikely play on a console however so why the interest in console game prices? Well whenever console game prices rise, so to their PC counterparts. PC Games are usually €10 cheaper than console games and this is a continuing trend to the current prices. Modern Warfare II released on Steam and Battle.Net for €70, EA will launch Jedi: Survivor at €70. Square Enix however brazenly charged €80 for Forspoken on PC as well as the PS5 in an unprecedented move as it's a brand new IP not another Final Fantasy. It was hoped before it was discovered that the game wasn't all that great that this brazen action would be rewarded with poor sales and act as a deterrent to similar activity in future and notions by other publishers.

Nonetheless in 2023 it will be important to know where and when to get the best PC gaming value and I feel it's necessary to share my thoughts on the matter with regards to direct sales, authorised vendors and the grey market of resellers. While the initial choice may be ease of use for a platform, for the price of just requiring multiple accounts for some authorised vendors one can make considerable savings and piece of mind without touching the nefarious grey market.

Why purchase individual titles?

In the era where subscription services can save you money, why do people make individual purchases at all? Well purchasing titles individually is what I do because it's the model that has most catered to the way I consume games, especially as I replay a lot of games and play games that are not available on subscriptions services.

In 2022 I purchased just two games that were released for the PC in 2022, God of War and Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered. I paid about €40 for each while on sale. Neither are available on any PC subscription service so I'm "forced" to purchase individually.

In March this year, with the release of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor I may sample the XBox PC Game Pass as EA Games now appear on it (although they also have their own subscription service EA Play available separately). 

That said, game subscription services are not the focus of this discussion and will be discussed at a later date.

In Part 2

We will discuss the digital platforms available to make individual game purchases.

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