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.