There’s a lot of talk at the moment about the increase in pricing on XBLA for the average game. I have a few issues that need going over.
- The premium priced titles of 1200+ MS points are vastly outnumbered by smaller, cheaper games.
- The 400 point, achingly simplistic dual-stick shooters shoveled out at the inception of XBLA are hardly a decent point of comparison to weightier offerings like Braid and Battlefield 1943. So yes the prices appear to be going up, but so is the general quality level of the top games on offer.
- We’re really just paying for the right to play the games, physical media is a by-product of how it is usually conveyed to us. In other words, these are games and just because they’re downloadable doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay a premium price. In a perfect world for game developers there would be no physical media or second-hand market, because that represents a loss to them.
Bearing in mind that I love having a solid copy of every game I own over downloads and I’m a total cheap-ass, that was pretty hard for me to say. What bothers me (and always has about MS points and XBLA) is the pricing structure. I’m sure I’ve said this before but if you buy a 1200 point game you’re not paying $14.99 (£10.20) for it, because you invariably have to buy 1500 points: $18.74 (£12.75). Unless you have the self-control of a Franciscan monk, those extra pounds, dollars and pennies get spent on odd Rock Band songs, themes you probably didn’t need and soon an eye-patch for your avatar. Microsoft know this, otherwise the price points would be different (500/1000/1500 point games) or the bundles you can buy would be different (400/800/1200 etc.)
It’s the third-oldest trick in the book and it’s remarkably effective, because for every one of you reading this with the discipline to buy 2100 point cards and sit on their caches of juicy space bucks for months on end there are fifty of us (myself included) who leap on the first shiny thing that catches our eye so we can throw our change down like it’s burning a hole in our pocket. Sony is just as bad with their £5 minimum wallet transaction, which becomes infuriating when you’re 8p shy of a Littlebigplanet costume. There are all sorts of ramifications on display here about the current economic crisis, but I’ll just say this. I don’t mind paying for DLC, it costs what it costs, but I DO mind buying MS points I clearly don’t need.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to continue my scouring under the couch cushions, that rent won’t pay itself you know.