The XBLA Pricing Problem

So, Kotaku wrote a story (complete with graphs) that shows that the price of games on the XBLA have been rising since the launch of the Xbox 360. Of course, this comes as no surprise to me. I’ve been bitching about this for well over a year. Personally, I think it has always been Microsoft’s plan to slowly ease us into higher prices and therefore getting us ready for the big money, which comes in the form of full retail game downloads.


Games on the XBLA were easy to impulse buy when they were $5 and even $10, but now that $15 is the new norm, it has become harder to justify. We aren’t getting more for our money, either. To prove this point, you just have to look at games like Samurai Showdown or the new Escape from Monkey Island. Both can be considered classic games and both have been ported over to the 360. Back in the early days of the XBLA, older games like this were $5. With the new pricing structure, these games release at $5 more than they should have for no other reason than to stay consistent with the new model.

At the same time, they’ve been testing the waters with higher prices and bigger downloads with the Xbox Originals program. Now, with the impending dashboard update, we will have a big back catalog of Xbox 360 titles available for download to our hard drives. Next stop, full $60 retail titles day and date with the physical release. After that, no physical media. Just a $60 game with no inherent value once you’re done playing it.

While this may not seem like a bad thing to a lot of people, it is for those of us who believe that physical media still has value. Having a box, manual and disc makes a game more valuable because you can loan, trade, or sell that physical copy. With a digital download, all of those options are taken away.


A lot of people assume that when physical media goes away, the price of games will actually drop because there will be no more printing manuals, cases, and discs. That is a big chunk of money that a publisher can save by using digital distribution. Will they pass that savings onto us, the consumer? Hell no!

So, the onus is with the consumers to demand more for their money. These games should come with things like dashboard themes, gamertiles, and avatar clothing or accessories. We should also demand more sales from Microsoft than just their pathetic Deal of the Week. Additionally, the older games should receive a permanent price cut, not just a 33% drop for a weekend. Personally, I won’t be buying another XBLA game until there is change in how these games are priced.

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  • I still like to have the case and everything that my game comes with, and yes I think sometime 60 bucks is to much for a game, but if I where given the option to download a full game for lets say $50 or go to the store for a physical copy of the game for $60 I would pay the extra $10 for the game as my friends and I borrow games from each other. As far as some of the arcade games going up in price when is it going to stop. Soon we will be paying extra for our avatars accessories and the arcade prices still go up and don’t forget that extra money we pay every year as gold members. I would like to see the arcade prices stabilize, gold membership price reduced or done away with, hell even the once free Diamond Card will set you back $10 to have the privilege of being a card holder of a card that most retailers don’t even know what the Diamond Card is.

  • Believe or not Ace, you and I are in total agreement on this.

  • really hard for me to say but YOU ARE COMPLETELY CORRECT GEMINI! XBLA prices have been out of control for a while now and you didn’t even mention the DRM issues that arise with it if have issues with your console.
    I hear there are more ads then every on the dashboard and MS is scrambling to justify the cost of LIVE with added crap like Facebook and Twitter.
    While I wouldn’t say the PSN has it exactly correct they sure thought about it a lot more and at least Sony adjusts the pricing of downloadable games when their retail equacialant drop also. This is something I do not see MS doing! Heck H3 is still $60 new and its 2 years old now!

  • racingfreak92

    I dont think its hard o agree with lower prices. I used to buy about 2 XBLA games a month when they were A. Good, and B. Cheap. Now its almost reversed itself, i usually go a month or 2 before i buy a game.

    PSN is better with prices IMO but no demos is crappy.

    I want more for my money but i want more GAME. Crap like dashboard themes should be free any (like most on PSN are) st $10 XBLA games are way low on content and then they throw DLC at us to make it worse.

    If more people were PC gamers i think we would be better off. On Pc everything isnt about monetizeing, gamers got stuff like free wallpapers on the disk and when a new map pack came out it was for the low low price of $0.

  • Tim agrees with me? Maybe I’m wrong…lol!

    And I do think the PSN should have mandatory demos. I wouldn’t be stuck with Crash Commando if they did.

  • Hey now, I love crash commando.

  • racingfreak92

    Crash Commando is a slightly better version of Undertow and a slightly worse version of Small Arms. All 3 are in the section of crap

    And gemini there actually is a demo of Crash Commando, it released a couple weeks ago

  • That information would have been helpful last week! lol!

  • Jacob Hruska (snakeman555)

    The XBLA games will continue to rise in price until Microsoft hits that point where they are selling so much less XBLA games that they are making less money. So the way to stop it is to now buy games.

    Also Microsoft is going to run into a problem with this Digital Distribution path they are taking, and that is the ****ing proprietary HDDs. My 20 gigs is running out and I am not going to upgrade it like I did on my PS3, because I would pay well over a dollar a gig for one of their HDDs when I got a 320 gig HDD for my PS3 for $60.

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  • Phoenix8424

    I think this article was horribly written!

    LOL, just kidding Gemini. What amazes me is that I went and picked up Final Fantasy eleven and before I could even play it I had to wait 6 hours to take up 10ish GB’s on my hard drive so I could play a crappy game for 15 bucks. So if all that content had to be downloaded, and I STILL had to go buy the disk, then what’s the point? What was on the disk?
    Anyway, I haven’t downloaded an XBL game in years, and don’t plan on it. Game add ons are the only thing that interest me, and I have to relly love the game to drop bucks on that since I won’t be able to resell it with my game.
    Good article.

  • I hate map packs. $10 for like 3-5 maps! COME ON! Its the biggset scam yet. Maps should be $1 each maximum.

    1TB SATA HDD = ~$90
    60GB Xbox 360 HDD = $100
    Thanks MS!

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