With all the recent news of Star Wars: Battlefront and it’s costly DLC, I’ve been thinking about the current price tag of games and how much I don’t think about the current price tag on games. In that I mean that my mindset about buying new console games is as follows:
New games cost $60.
For as long as I’ve been purchasing games (starting with the Nintendo 64, as with prior systems, most of those game were bought by my parents or rented), games have cost around $60. Sometimes less but rarely more. And never once, that I can recall, did I ever question what I was getting for my $60. I never recall being all that concerned about getting a “full” game or a terrible game or a game-of-the-year candidate. I just wanted a game. And I still don’t do that. If I want a new game, I expect that it’s going to cost me $60 and I don’t question that.
And that make me question myself. These days, does that make me a bad consumer? Because with nearly any other purchases I make, I think about the associated costs. And sometimes, I do more than just think about it. Sometimes, I research it, analysis it, and formulate it in order to make sure that I’m getting the most for my money. Because I like my money and don’t just want to throw it away on nothing.
But I hardly ever do that with games. Take Yoshi’s Woolly World, for example. Though I may have waited until after its reviews came out to purchase it, I did, and I paid $60 for it. I didn’t “run the numbers” to see if the game was really worth it. I didn’t compare it against my previous experiences with other Yoshi games to ensure that I’d enjoy it for the cost. I didn’t watch any extended gameplay videos of it to make sure that my money wasn’t going to waste. I simply wanted the game, and the price for that was $60.
In an earlier and overeager post about Yoshi’s Woolly World, I spoke of how it brought out my negligible completionist tendencies. I’ve now beaten the game, but I’ve not completed it. Well, not completed it as much as I had originally intended, which was to find ALL the Yoshies and flowers in each level. (I did better with the Yoshies than the flowers.) As it tends to go with games, and especially, it seems, platformers, the more difficult things get, the less important all the extras seem. At a certain point, I simply want to make it through harder stages so they could be over with. And I lacked the fortitude in the moment to go back and try again to get anything I missed.
So what in the world does any of that have to do with $60? Well, upon finishing Yoshi’s Woolly World and considering my original goals, I wondered, quite possibly for the first time ever, if I had taken a misstep by purchasing it straight out the gate. Because these days, I mostly wait until a game is several months old (and if at all possible, on sale) before taking the plunge. All told, it only took me a few hours to beat the game, and that initial bout of completionist enthusiasm had waned considerably by the end. Call it laziness if you want, but I’m ready to move on. The purchase was exciting, but now it feels hollow. I don’t want my $60 back, but I do wish that I hadn’t been so flippant about the game in the first place.
Call it gamers’ regret, maybe?
Or maybe a wake-up call, because buying games on impulse can lead to unpleasant situations. And there’s more to it than just buying a new game that you just don’t like in the end. With games receiving media coverage more now than ever before, it’s hard to ignore the fact that $60 doesn’t seem to go as far with games as it once used to. Playing into that could be that, honestly, there’s not been a ton of innovation lately in new (AAA) games. Twenty years ago, I didn’t bat an eyelash at shelling out $60 for Super Mario 2: Yoshi’s Island, because it really was something different; a true departure for the Mario series. I went into buying Yoshi’s Woolly World with that same idea in mind, knowing quite well that the game was something of a retread. I guess I was hoping it was more than that. And it was, graphically anyway, but it some ways it wasn’t. (Still, it’s a fantastic title for the WiiU. If you haven’t bought it but want to, I’d recommend waiting until the price comes down a bit.)
Setting aside the culture of game DLC, add-ons, and expansions, what do you expect to get from a new, sixty dollar game these days?