Hopefully some of you took the time to check out my first editorial a couple of days ago. If not you should go do that now.
So let’s go ahead and analyze a bit of data. Based on research purely my own it appears that the average game on XBLA costs 800 Microsoft Points (or $10)
In comparison the average retail game costs $60 (or 4800 Microsoft Points)
This is where it gets a bit tricky. If you have read a review in the past decade you know that each game is rated based on a few common attributes. How fun is it? What kind of replay does it have? How does it sound, and how does it look?
I am in total agreement that XBLA games deserve reviews, and should be judged on similar merits, what I don’t agree with however is that they tend to be rated on a similar scale. Should we really expect a game that costs $5, $10, or $20 to last as long, or have the same production value, as a retail game?
After doing quite a bit of thinking on the issue I have arrived at a few conclusions on this very issue, and they are as follows:
1. It is fair to expect a game, no matter the cost to last us more than a few hours if we have to pay for it. This is also helped by the promise of DLC for arcade games, which is becoming more common, and a trend I am a big fan of.
2. The game needs to be polished and run smoothly, but it doesn’t need to be exuberant. It isn’t fair for us to expect a gaming experience on par with something like Fallout 3 from an arcade game.
One of the biggest pricing issues I have seen as of late on XBLA is the death of the 400 Microsoft Point Games. Back when XBLA was new it was almost the norm for releases to be 400 MSP, but it has been months since we have seen a game released at this price point.
Until recently there have been very few games that have made me question the pricing on Xbox Live. However, with the release of games like Watchmen ($20 for a 3 hour beat-em-up) and Hasbro Family Game Night ($10 per game, with a total of 7 games, including Connect 4) I have begun to realize there is definitely a problem.
I think this is a problem that will eventually work itself out. The biggest step is going to be the releases of 400 Microsoft Point games. I don’t see this happening anytime within the next few months, with Microsoft’s “Days of Arcade” which is already off to a fairly terrible start. Hopefully games like The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai will help, as it looks to be a meaty release, for the same price as Connect 4. If it sells well it might make Microsoft’s next “‘Deal’ of the Week” be for Hasbro’s games.
So, if you managed to get through all of my ramble, what is it exactly you should be taking away from these articles? Mostly just to be careful. Microsoft is definitely not looking out for you at this point in time, but luckily they do give you the option to try out demos. The reason spending $20 on an arcade game is so scary is because there is no way to get a refund / partial monetary return, as it is a digital copy.
We here at Platform Nation will do our best to keep you well informed as to what is, and isn’t worth your money. I think it might be appropriate at this final juncture, for me to offer you a few examples of what I think are good deals to check out. Here you go:
Braid (Be careful, it is a bit short)
Geometry Wars (Skip 1 and get 2 if you are late to the party)
There are more, but those are some of the best, and in my opinion most reasonably priced games out right now.
And with that, I am out. Feel free to leave me comments.