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Game Prices — a Historical Perspective

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

Businesses 225

The Opposable Thumbs blog scrutinizes the common wisdom that video games are too expensive, or that they're more expensive than they were in the past. They found that while in some cases the sticker price has increased, it generally hasn't outpaced inflation, making 2010 a cheaper time to be a gamer than the '80s and '90s. Quoting: "... we tracked down a press release putting the suggested retail price of both Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64 at $69.99. [Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumer's Association] says that the N64 launch game pricing only tells you part of the story. 'Yes, some N64 games retailed for as high as $80, but it was also the high end of a 60 to 80 dollar range,' he told Ars. 'Retailers had more flexibility with pricing back then — though they've consistently maintained that the Suggested Retail Price was/is just a guide. Adjusted for inflation, we're generally paying less now than we have historically. But to be fair, DLC isn't factored in.' He also points out all the different ways that we can now access games: you can buy a game used, rent a game, or play certain online games for free. There are multiple ways to sell your old console games, and the competition in the market causes prices to fall quickly."

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225 comments

I miss some of those old games (0, Offtopic)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821624)

Links386, Master of Orion, Master of Magic, Battlecruiser 3000, Day of the Tentacle, etc.

These are the games that had the biggest impact on me.

Re:I miss some of those old games (4, Interesting)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821962)

As the summary points out more nicely, the article is half-assed at best.

Downloadable content can be very expensive. For example, Call Of Duty: World At War was something like $55 new, but immediately after buying it you had to spend another $25 on DLC if you wanted to play multiplayer without having to queue over and over.

Although I just got my PS3 yesterday, I suspect many games are like this now. This leads me to believe that we are, in fact, paying much more than we did in the past for video games.

Re:I miss some of those old games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822302)

OK, which has more content, World at War with no DLC or Streets of Rage? People have long since complained about the short campaign in COD games which clocks in at about 6 hours. Streets of Rage's "campaign" (which is its only mode) can be beaten in an hour.

Re:I miss some of those old games (2, Informative)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821988)

They missed out on the old Amigas, Spectrum and Commodore era. I remember picking games up for under £3.
We're definitely not better off, price-wise, from that era. Graphically, and gameplay wise, yes, and I wouldn't want to go back to those days (except through an emulator)

Re:I miss some of those old games (2, Informative)

plumby (179557) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822068)

Absolutely. When I started buying Speccy games in about 1984, they were typicaly £4.99 (about £11.95 adjusted for inflation). Some games did start to come out at £9.99 - I remember the shock in magazines at the time, but equally we started to get the £1.99 range at around the same time.

Like you say, obviously most of them are nowhere near as good as the best games released today, but they were the cutting edge at the time, and were far cheaper than today's cutting edge games.

Re:I miss some of those old games (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822172)

... today's cutting edge games.

Ah, an oxymoron from my today's reading of /.

Re:I miss some of those old games (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822336)

Production costs have gone way up since the 1980s. Many Speccy games were written by students or people working at home (I know, I was one of them) with maybe some help from a friend doing the graphics. You'd then go to a game company, they'd _maybe_ retouch the graphics and hire (eg.) Rob Hubbard for a couple of days to do the music. Total cost: $8,000

Even the 'pro' games were done by one programmer and a graphics guy who'd be shared shared between three projects.

These days a game needs about 20 people working full time for a couple of years, often hiring motion capture studios with gymnasts/actors, etc., along the way. Game development budgets are now in the tens of millions (low-end Hollywood range).

Re:I miss some of those old games (1)

plumby (179557) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822362)

I understand why the prices are higher, but that's not what the article seems to be claiming. To argue that they aren't higher because some types of game were high back in the day as well is pretty misleading, especially given that (from my experience at least) pretty much all gamers I knew at the time had either a Speccy or a C64, and that was where the majority of games purchasing went.

Re:I miss some of those old games (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822456)

Nintendo/SEGA prices were much higher because Nintendo/SEGA took a big cut of the profits for the privilege of writing games for their console.

On top of that, only they could manufacture the cartridges and they charged a lot for that as well.

Plus ... development was very risky because they only accepted a fixed quota of games per year to keep the market from saturating. If they didn't like yours it wouldn't get published (and you only got *one* shot at acceptance ... you showed them the game and if they didn't like it you were dismissed, no second chance)

So yeah, comparing the price of NES games to Speccy games is pointless. Development costs for Japanese consoles were orders of magnitude more than for Speccy/C64.

Re:I miss some of those old games (-1, Troll)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#33823140)

Their own fault.

Honestly you do not deserve to make 6 figures as a programmer.

Also what idiot keeps his software company in California? Move to Iowa and cut all operation costs by 2/3 and suddenly the programmers that make $65,000 can live like kings compared to making $100,000 in California.

With the way the job market is and will be for the next 5 years, you can get your talent to move to you if you have jobs.

Re:I miss some of those old games (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822388)

IIRC, Elite for the Speccy - which came with a full user manual AND a novella - was about £12.99 when it first came out, in other words, about £30-£35 in today's money. That was by far the most expensive game at the time. £5 or £6 was considered "full price" in the mid 1980s.

Re:I miss some of those old games (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822604)

They missed out on the old Amigas, Spectrum and Commodore era. I remember picking games up for under £3.

But where that the high profile games and did you buy them brand new on launch day?

It is not exactly hard to find games for $5 or $10 these days either, but those games are of course not the Modern Warfare 2 that people buy right on the day of the release, but stuff that is a year or two old and in the bargain bin or indie stuff.

Overall game prices really haven't changed much at all, new Amiga/PC titles always used to be a cheaper then console stuff, in the 40EUR range, while consoles always where in the 50-60EUR range and that goes back to at least the times of the NES. In some cases game prices even have gone down, SNES stuff used to be 50EUR for first party and 65EUR or even 75EUR for third party stuff, that continued to the N64, on Gamecube they went down to 50-60EUR and now on Wii most games start at 40-45EUR. And of course we have super easy access to used games with eBay and Amazon these days and even just six month after release most game sell for half as much as they did on launch.

Re:I miss some of those old games (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#33823154)

4 year old game, the first zelda release for the Wii... is STILL $50.00

many game makers are refusing to drop prices on their games even years after release.

Re:I miss some of those old games (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 3 years ago | (#33823056)

I too remember paying less thatn a fiver for Spectrum games. I also remember returning a lot of them because they wouldn't load...

Re:I miss some of those old games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822148)

Old classics are starting to appear in on-line stores. For example, GamersGate (www.gamersgate.com) offers Master of Orion 1+2 and the original Jagged Alliance for €5.

Re:I miss some of those old games (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822202)

Links386, Master of Orion, Master of Magic, Battlecruiser 3000, Day of the Tentacle, etc.

Master of Orion and Master of Magic work perfectly in Dosbox [dosbox.com]. Day of the Tentacle (and other Lucasarts adventures) work better-than-original (due to nice graphics filters) in ScummVM [scummvm.org]. Dunno about the other two.

I wonder if one could remake MoM as a mod for the latest Civilization... Civ4 was pretty flexible, and Civ5 is supposed to be even more so.

Re:I miss some of those old games (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822374)

If you miss some of them, maybe do something about it so you're not missing them?

Master of Orion I and II [gog.com] for just USD$6

The complete Total Annihilation suite [gog.com], also for USD$6

Well, whatcha waiting for?

Re:I miss some of those old games (1)

Dopefish_1 (217994) | more than 3 years ago | (#33823126)

There's also a small, but very dedicated community of MOO2 players. Check out #moo2 on irc.quakenet.org

N64? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821628)

Give me a break.

Genesis. Phantasy Star IV. $99. Pfft.

Love the modern baaaawing about game prices. You kids have *no* idea.

What about C64? (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821820)

Yeah, the N64 have been expensive, but C64 games were cheap in their time. I remember saving up my pocket money for 2.99 (pounds that is) tapes. There were premium titles, but they still never realyl cost more than 10 quid. About 22 pounds in today's money.

So really, about double that isn't much of a problem, given how much more effort goes in and how much more enjoyment I get out.

Re:What about C64? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822228)

I had an Amstrad CPC 664 in the 8 bit era, and it because fairly obvious even to a 9 year old that games were a fair bit cheaper on tape than they were on disk (possibly because Amstrad had made an unfortunate choice of 3.25" disks which quickly became very expensive, but more likely it was just a 'whatever the market can bear' thing). So i'd buy them on tape and copy them to disk - a single disk could normally hold anywhere from 10-20 tape games per side. At the start the games were trivially protected with a system-honoured no-copy flag so that the basic calls wouldn't work, but that was easy enough to defeat, but they quickly became more elaborate from different tape image type flags to completely custom tape I/O routines (but that was easy enough - just let the custom I/O routine load the data into memory then save it yourself). It ended up being more fun copying the game from tape to disk than actually playing it :)

My biggest thrill was finding a text message after decrypting layer upon layer of encrypted code congratulating me for getting that far and inviting me to call a phone number in the UK (I assume) (possibly the police :)

Sad to think it will never quite be like that again...

Re:What about C64? (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822258)

Didn't the Amstrad use a 3inch disk? I remember seeing a machine that did data conversion across disks/tapes and when I asked about anyone ever wanting data from Amstrads he said "Oh, the 3inch drive? It's cheaper than a blanking plate so we just stick one in but not bother wiring it up."

Re:What about C64? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822346)

Yep. A special 3-inch disk (which were much better made then the 3.5" PC ones)

Re:What about C64? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822732)

We used to live by a dirt road often frequented by trucks (so dust everywhere), and had a few hundred 3" disks and at the time myself and my siblings were all under 15 years of age, so not necessarily the most careful of people, and I only remember having one failed disk ever.

This contrasts sharply with the 3.5" disks these days which can't be trusted to successfully carry your data from one side of the room to another (admittedly, any disk drive these days is likely covered in dust, and old, and the data density is about 8x compared to the old 3" disks).

Re:What about C64? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822714)

Didn't the Amstrad use a 3inch disk? I remember seeing a machine that did data conversion across disks/tapes and when I asked about anyone ever wanting data from Amstrads he said "Oh, the 3inch drive? It's cheaper than a blanking plate so we just stick one in but not bother wiring it up."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amstrad_cpc#Floppy_disk_drive [wikipedia.org]

I always thought of it as a 3+1/4" disk but most of the literature these days calls it 3". The drive might have been cheap but in Australia we were paying $11/disk in the final days that we owned it.

Re:What about C64? (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822652)

Yeah, the N64 have been expensive, but C64 games were cheap in their time.

A little, but not even remotely that much: C64 prices [kultpower.de] (prices in DM, multiply by two to get EUR)

Prices there range from 20EUR-33EUR, not much of a difference compared to days PC prices today. A look at the Amazon.de best seller list shows me prices ranging from 15EUR-55EUR. With a game like Mass Effect 2, just nine month on the market, selling for just 16,40EUR. I find it a little hard to complain about that.

DVD vs cartridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821640)

Cartridge (ROM) based games are more expensive to manufacture than CD/DVDs. Perhaps a comparison of like for like would be better.

Re:DVD vs cartridge (3, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821964)

>Cartridge (ROM) based games are more expensive to manufacture than CD/DVDs. Perhaps a comparison of like for like would be better.

Ok, but what about the billions and billions of dollars they don't lose to piracy? Doesn't that factor into the pricing somehow?

Re:DVD vs cartridge (1)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822182)

There's a lot more people playing (and buying) games today. Total sales is what really matter, and even if your modern game has a piracy rate of 75%, it's likely you'll be selling more copies than a 'similar' game did 10-15 years ago which had a piracy rate of 1%.

Then there's the issue with trying to work out what the actual losses are. i.e. if your game cannot be pirated, then many of the people who would've pirated it simply won't play it. So, the high rates of piracy we have now don't necessarily indicate that if we'd had a secure cartridge system for PC games the industry would be making massively more money than it does now.

Re:DVD vs cartridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822396)

a) Back in those days the whole industry wasn't worth a billion dollars
b) Half my NES and Genesis collection was made up of pirated cartridges my buddy's dad bought in Chinatown.

Re:DVD vs cartridge (1)

Calydor (739835) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822060)

You're absolutely right, games released on DVDs in the 80s and early 90s were so expensive I can't even find records of the prices!

Reality check: The medium for the games has changed. The only real comparison to be made is "What does one game cost?", maybe with some fancy math involving the average amount of hours of gameplay you get for your money.

More missing. (3, Interesting)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821650)

The much higher production cost and lower market hasn't been factored in either. I can remember back somewhere in 198* that msx games were 80 guldens here (that about 30 euro now) and those games had prints of about 1000-5000 pieces. How do you mean it's getting cheaper? No it isn't.

Re:More missing. (1)

malzfreund (1729864) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821854)

A lot of wrong stuff here. First of all, EUR 30 in the mid-80s is equivalent to roughly EUR 55 today due to the effects of inflation (these are approximate numbers for countries like Germany and the Netherlands). Inflation was slightly higher in the US, so a larger increase in dollar prices was necessary over there to compensate producers for rising input prices. Second, I don't think MSX games are really representative for what OP is referring to. MSX was never really mainstream in the US and Europe. Third, production cost have risen tremendously, yes. But a good chunk of the cost of producing a video game is fixed. And since the market for video games has grown tremendously over the last three decades, those fixed cost are distributed over a much larger number of games sold, therefore facilitating lower video game prices (in real terms).

Re:More missing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822094)

I fucking hate it when people go on about "adjusted for inflation" arguments.

If you're going to adjust the prices we're talking about for inflation, adjust MY FUCKING SALARY for inflation as well.

After adjusting for inflation, I'm making a LOT less than I was back then even tho if you just look at the fucking numbers I'm technically making "more". In short, most peoples raises aren't keeping up with inflation. If yours is, gratz. You're not in the majority.

Re:More missing. (1)

2fuf (993808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822416)

Actually, where OP is from (Netherlands), it's the norm to correct salaries for inflation. If your salary is never corrected for inflation, your employer is reaping the benefits and leaving you out cold. I know US employment rules are very different, but not correcting for inflation means you're earning less money every month. Maybe you should make it part of your contract negotiations to have periodical indexation of your salary. You would only be asking for what's fair.

Re:More missing. (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#33823084)

Actually, where OP is from (Netherlands), it's the norm to correct salaries for inflation. If your salary is never corrected for inflation, your employer is reaping the benefits and leaving you out cold. I know US employment rules are very different, but not correcting for inflation means you're earning less money every month. Maybe you should make it part of your contract negotiations to have periodical indexation of your salary. You would only be asking for what's fair.

dutch guy here.. I never got any inflation correction, it just happens that this year my annual raise was higher then the inflation (still at the start of my cariere, so now i still have some growth there), but many of my coworkers got a 0% raise this year (and previous years). The same thing at my previous jobs, i did get raises (due to personal growth/promotion), but never inflation correction

Re:More missing. (1)

2fuf (993808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33823146)

Dutch guy here as well. You must be aware of the unions yearly salary indexation agreements as part of the annual budget, which are formalized as part of the collective labor agreements (CAO). I don't know about your particular case or your co-workers, but more than half of the Dutch employees work for companies that fall under CAO agreements.

Re:More missing. (1)

kryogen1x (838672) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822122)

First of all, EUR 30 in the mid-80s is equivalent to roughly EUR 55 today due to the effects of inflation

Newsflash, the Euro didn't even exist in the mid-80s.

Re:More missing. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822432)

True. But what you may or may not know is that some Euro countries still display prices in their former currencies for reference and the conversion rate that was used for the transition still applies.

I offer this as an example. In Spain, where I live, you still find apartment and houses listed in both Euros and Pesetas. Some supermarkets and stores also display prices in both currencies.

The point is that even if the Euro didn't existe in the '80s it is still possible to do the math and figure out how much something from way back then would be worth today.

Re:More missing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822398)

Not rally true, the inflation is a bad measure of how the cost of life went up as it only monitor some prices, for example in the mid 80 I was earning the equivalent of around 1100€ and know I earn 2000€ but ironically in the mid 80 I had more expendable money than today even with a similar consume in term of services and basic expenditures( around 400€ in the 80 vs 300€ today).

Re:More missing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822418)

Ups... the 400 vs 300 is the remaining expendable money.

Yeah (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821660)

Not a popular fact here on Slashdot, but true. I've mentioned this many times when people were complaining about game prices.

When I was younger the standard price for an SNES game was 129 guilders, which equals 59 euros. Nowadays new console games also cost 59 euros, except Wii games which are normally 49 euros. Accounting for inflation, games have gotten much cheaper. Also, I'm not sure about this, but I get the impression games hit the bargain bin much faster these days (except big sellers like Mario Kart and Modern Warfare).

My problem with game prices is the difference between US and EU prices. We usually pay in euros what you guys pay in dollars, so we pay much more (even if you take into account that the EU price does include sales tax).

Re:Yeah (1)

sardaukar_siet (559610) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821826)

SNES (and all cartridge-based) games were MUCH more expensive to make than current gen ones. So, even IF games are cheaper now, publishers' profit margins are definitely higher.

Re:Yeah (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822360)

Perhaps in terms of production cost. Development cost of (retail) games tends to be much, much higher nowadays. We're talking multi-million dollar projects here.

I have no idea whether publisher's profit margins have gone up or down. It doesn't really matter all that to the discussion at hand anyway. The article addresses the very common complaint (especially on /.) that "video games have gotten more expensive," and the article simply shows that that's factually incorrect.

Re:Yeah (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822880)

I can't speak for Euro-based comparisons, but I do know that the US/UK games price comparison is more complicated than it seems. The UK does, at first glance, seem to get a bad deal on high-street games sales. While highly dependant upon the exchange rate, UK RRPs do tend to look around 25% higher, in my experience.

However...

I go to the US several times a year and always tend to pick up a few games while I'm out there, particularly if the exchange rate is good. What I always notice is how much slower US high-street retailers are to discount games, compared with their UK counterparts, and how few special-offers there are available in the US. I've seen games that are two or three months old and which weren't huge hits still retailing for $60 in Gamestop. In the UK, by contrast, such a game would generally have had in the region of a third knocked off its price by that point (and sometimes more if it had proven a difficult game to shift). Indeed, unless the game you want is either a really major release or right down at the other end of the scale in the "small, cult release" category, you can generally get more than 20% off the RRP just by waiting 2 weeks or so.

That said, we do tend to get stiffed in download-sales a bit, where certain retailers have a habit of just replacing the $ sign with a £. We also get the aggravating situation where some games that are released in the US never make it out over here (eg. Deathsmiles) or take many months to make it over (eg. Persona 3 and 4).

Re:Yeah (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#33823108)

(except big sellers like Mario Kart and Modern Warfare).

Mario kart has nothing to do with sales, nintendo just NEVER drop prices or anything, i'll bet you that if you can find an original GBA game from nintendo in shops, it'll still cost at least 90% of what it did at introduction

A couple of points missed by the article... (5, Interesting)

julesh (229690) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821676)

1. Console game prices have always been higher than PC (and, earlier, home computer) game prices. When most of us complain about game prices, it's the PC games we're complaining about.

2. The real-terms cost of other forms of entertainment have dropped over the same period. At least where I am, a chart CD used to cost £15 and is now more like £10; according to the Bank of England inflation calculator [bankofengland.co.uk] [horrible flash thing] that's £25-£10 reduction, or a drop of more than half in real terms cost. Other forms of entertainment have reduced similarly. So, by comparison to the competition, games *are* more expensive.

Re:A couple of points missed by the article... (3, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821924)

Console game prices were initially higher because you had to account for the cost of manufacturing the cartridges. However today all consoles use DVDs or built-in storage of some sort so that cost is no longer justified. But the games still cost a boatload. The justification is that the production costs are higher.

Re:A couple of points missed by the article... (4, Interesting)

PhrstBrn (751463) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822132)

Console games are licensed, PC games are not. I don't know how much it costs to publish a game for the Xbox360/PS3/Wii, but it's more than zero. Publishing a game for the PC costs nothing in licensing fees.

Re:A couple of points missed by the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822376)

Console games are licensed, PC games are not. I don't know how much it costs to publish a game for the Xbox360/PS3/Wii, but it's more than zero. Publishing a game for the PC costs nothing in licensing fees.

If you are willing to write a game engine from scratch, sure there are no licensing fees. Most game developers license the engines from the likes of Id Software and Epic.

Re:A couple of points missed by the article... (2, Informative)

yuriks (1089091) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822508)

Console games are licensed, PC games are not. I don't know how much it costs to publish a game for the Xbox360/PS3/Wii, but it's more than zero. Publishing a game for the PC costs nothing in licensing fees.

If you are willing to write a game engine from scratch, sure there are no licensing fees. Most game developers license the engines from the likes of Id Software and Epic.

Yes there are. All console manufacturers demand licensing fees for developing and publishing software for their consoles.

Re:A couple of points missed by the article... (1)

Keerok (870468) | more than 3 years ago | (#33823218)

anonymous coward is saying that "If you are willing to write a game engine frome scratch ( for the PC), there are not licensing fees". So hes agreeing with you, but pointing out that: - Most Game developers pay for a Game engine via licensing Fees

Re:A couple of points missed by the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821980)

I can remember when beer was 50p a pint.

Re:A couple of points missed by the article... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822488)

chart CDs used to have at least 20 tracks on them... now they've been dropping the number of tracks right down to just enough to qualify as a CD for the CD chart...

Re:A couple of points missed by the article... (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822556)

PC game prices used to be more expensive as well. I still have the original boxes for a few old PC games, with price stickers still intact. Their Finest Hour (1989 flight sim) cost £50. Ultima VII cost £40. The original X-Wing cost £45. So too did TIE Fighter. The B-Wing expansion pack for X-Wing cost £30. Gunship 2000 cost £50. Even before you adjust for inflation, it's clear that in the UK at least, PC games have gotten substantially cheaper. I can't remember the last time I spent more than £30 on a PC game that wasn't some kind of special edition.

That said, the packaging that these old games came in was vastly more elaborate than anything you'd get today. Their Finest Hour and Ultima VII in particular have all kinds of neat stuff in the box; mini-history books and cloth maps and the like.

Prices seemed to fall gradually throughout the mid and late 90s, looking at the games in my storage cupboard that still have price labels (a factor that makes it harder to track the trend once modern packaging with its emphasis on shrink-wrapping came in.

PC games definitely cheaper (3, Informative)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821698)

PC games have definitely become cheaper. I remember in the 90s paying £40 for some games (I paid £44.99 for Warcraft II as it was the cheapest I could find it at on release!), usually though they were around the £29.99 mark with the odd £34.99 game. At the start of this century they seemed to all pretty much go up to £34.99 as standard, but in recent years the trend has reversed, and £24.99 seems to be common for new releases, sometimes even lower - £22.99 or so.

I've never historically been much of a console gamer, although did own a few consoles I never bought more than a handful of games for them until this generation. I've noticed XBox 360 games used to be £39.99 or thereabouts as standard on release, but nowadays they seem to be closer to £34.99 a lot of the time, sometimes only £29.99. Major releases are still usually higher, and Call of Duty tries to sell at £44.99 because Activision are a bunch of profiteering twats, but then, supermarkets in the UK Sold MW2 at £28 on release night so it shows it pays to shop around so you can avoid the Call of Duty tax if you buy it. Certainly the general trend seems to be that in the 5 years since release, 360 games are, on average, a bit cheaper now.

Of course there are stores that'll get you games a little cheaper than these prices, but I'm referring to the usual advertised price from the typical non-discount mainstream stores for the most part because it's hard to compare to the discounted prices when they vary so wildly from title to title!

Re:PC games definitely cheaper (3, Informative)

nem75 (952737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821982)

PC games have definitely become cheaper. I remember in the 90s paying £40 for some games (I paid £44.99 for Warcraft II as it was the cheapest I could find it at on release!), usually though they were around the £29.99 mark with the odd £34.99 game. At the start of this century they seemed to all pretty much go up to £34.99 as standard, but in recent years the trend has reversed, and £24.99 seems to be common for new releases, sometimes even lower - £22.99 or so.

For whatever reason the UK seems to be special in this case, computer game prices there are way lower than in the rest of Europe. So much so that some publishers ask Amazon.co.uk to not ship certain games to the continent (at least they did this in some cases last year). Anyway, when I buy new games I buy in the UK, it's way cheaper than in Germany e.g.

Re:PC games definitely cheaper (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 3 years ago | (#33823042)

I ship a lot of my games to European countries after a sale on eBay. I even charge stupid amounts of postage and the buyers seem happy to pay.

Re:PC games definitely cheaper (1)

ZosoZ (1603973) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822284)

Yup, they were definitely more expensive in the 90s. When PC Zone magazine folded recently I dug out a the first one I bought, Issue 7 from October 1993. From the adverts in there Lands of Lore had an RRP of £35.99, Clash of Steel and Simon the Sorcerer were £39.99, and Seal Team and NHL Hockey were £44.99. Those were on floppy; a multimedia verision of King’s Quest VI on CD ROM was another fiver on top at £49.99. Granted that was RRP, mail order companies knocked a bit off the prices, the cheapest was “Only the Best Computer Software” of Bristol with Lands of Lore at £24.99 and the CD ROM King’s Quest VI at £32.99.

Anyone remember the Odyssey2? (1)

Chordonblue (585047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822782)

I do, and there was a time where you could only find the carts at an actual Magnavox dealer (1978/9ish). I've always brought up the fact that games like Thunderball sold for $49.99 back then - around $170 today! Incredibly expensive - but that didn't stop us from managing to obtain about 30 games or so by 1982.

So yes, I would say even console games have become quite cheap in comparison - especially since you can now get many of them second hand.

Re:PC games definitely cheaper (1)

sa1lnr (669048) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822998)

"(I paid £44.99 for Warcraft II as it was the cheapest I could find it at on release!)"

One word, Blizzard. Their games were always more expensive, everyone else was more or less around the £30 mark for a full game and £20 for an expansion.

The first Diablo was the same £45 when everyone else was at £30.

Price is not the only factor to consider (4, Insightful)

gravos (912628) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821780)

Remember that even if the real price of new games rise, that doesn't mean a gamer is in a worse situation than he would have been in the past. Quite the opposite in fact.

Today you can play thousands of older titles for very low prices. There are probably 10 times as many freeware games available today as there were 30 years ago. You can get on youtube and watch "Let's Play's" of virtually every popular NES and SNES title for free. Many of these games are only surpassed by current titles in the graphics department.

In other words, it's a great time to be a gamer even if you don't buy a single "new" game.

Re:Price is not the only factor to consider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821838)

But can I watch "Let's Play's" with your mom on YouTube?

Re:Price is not the only factor to consider (1)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822502)

Also, there are hundreds of indie games which generally come in under £10, and can be excellent.

Looking through the new releases on Steam for Mac (where older an indie games make up a bigger slice of the pie I will admit), the prices are as follows £5.09, £2.99, £7.19, £6.99, £5.99, £15.99, £12.99, £8.99, £12.99, and £3.99. This doesn't seem expensive!

War in Russia Atari 800 (2, Interesting)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821792)

If you wanted War in Russia by SSI, it was GBP80 in 1981/2. To put this in perspective, I worked in a bank then and my take home pay was about GBP140 so we're talking 2-3 weeks pay.
The real killer though were the carts for that console which took the same game carts as its equivelent in the arcades and they were GBP250 each.

Re:War in Russia Atari 800 (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822108)

The real killer though were the carts for that console which took the same game carts as its equivelent in the arcades and they were GBP250 each.

Say what? What arcade games were on cartridges that could be plugged into an atari 800?

Re:War in Russia Atari 800 (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822192)

>Say what? What arcade games were on cartridges that could be plugged into an atari 800?
No. There was a Japanese system that was used in arcades that had great big carts allowing you to use the same cabinet/hardware but changing the game every so often. They brought out a home version that took the same carts and they were veeery expensive.

Re:War in Russia Atari 800 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822214)

He doesn't refer to the Atari 800 but "that console", and I think that's SNK's NeoGeo.

Re:War in Russia Atari 800 (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822364)

I think he's talking about the Neo Geo - a programmable arcade machine for the home (with prices to match).

Re:War in Russia Atari 800 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822554)

But... it was by SSI!

The (mouse friendly, better res, same gameplay) Mac port of their original Reach for the Stars DOS game is one of my favourite games ever.

This article makes me upset (0)

Notlupus (1893060) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821794)

I'm not sure what point this blog is trying to convey. Games are cheaper now than they were 10-15 years ago, so what? Games 10-15 years ago were also 4-5 times longer, and (arguably) better. The problem isn't that games are so expensive, it's that games are so low in quality these days that they are not worth the bloody money. A 6 hour, single-player, shitfest that's only around to serve as a DLC platform for $60, or Banjo Kazooie for $80. I know what I'd go for. "This is a fine time to be a gamer" my ass.

Re:This article makes me upset (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821852)

Longer games!?!?!?!

Lower quality games?!

You must have missed out on the NES, where mind you some of the best games ever existed, but along with that and at the same price were tons of repetitive dreck fests. Nintendo 64 games were expensive for their generation, and frankly a lot of the best ones sucked. Goldeneye was good (mostly becuase of multiplayer), I breezed through Banjo-Kazooie, so I have no clue where you're coming from with its gameplay being 4-5 times longer than a game today. You must really REALLY suck at platformers.

Go play Metal Gear Solid 4 and tell me that games today are crappier. Go play something other than Crap of Duty, and tell me about 6 hour single player experience. Hell Starcraft II had a longer singleplayer experience than 6 hours, unless you skip every cutscene and then why not just hop onto battle.net?

Did you play Oblivion, it was leaps and bounds beyond Morrowind which was so far beyond Daggerfall.

What can you possibly have to say was wrong with Fallout 3?

Hell how is DLC so different from expansion packs, my Quake II Quad Damage pack came with an expansion CD that was all community generated content! Same with my Doom II Master Levels. At least now we're getting new maps from the game makers.

Sure some modern games blow goats compared to earlier generations (FFXIII anyone?), but your statement is baseless and shows a severe ignorance of gaming.

Go play some real games, because frankly your gamer cred is revoked.

Re:This article makes me upset (3, Funny)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821892)

Don't you mean watch Metal Gear Solid 4?

*ducks*

Re:This article makes me upset (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821940)

You win this time...oh crap I'm not logged in. :(

3 Battyone

Re:This article makes me upset (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821946)

It took me less time to finish StarCraft II than the original StarCraft. Fallout 3 is nice.

Re:This article makes me upset (2, Insightful)

Notlupus (1893060) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822130)

You should try working on engaging in an active discussion without sounding like a total dick.

Re:This article makes me upset (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822246)

Did you play Oblivion, ...

I did.

...it was leaps and bounds beyond Morrowind

no, it wasn't, not to my taste.
Which actually reveals the whole kit and caboodle of the issue: while you can hope to compare prices between now-and-then, the entertainment value of the games is something you can't measure (BTW: is still like better Joan Baez than Gaga.. lady or not. Guess what age I am? Don't try, you'd be wrong)

Re:This article makes me upset (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822292)

I agree with what you're saying in principle, but sometimes you also have to give more credit to the ones that came first. For example, Oblivion was in no way "leaps and bounds" ahead of Morrowind except graphically. Oblivion had bad console-itis with that ugly interface, and a game world with FAR less variety and diversity than Morrowind. It was a very good game but it came across as bland/sterile compared to Morrowind. And everything that Oblivion did right, Morrowind had done first.

Re:This article makes me upset (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821976)

There were games in the early 1980s that I wish I'd had the chance to play, but they tended to be expensive.
Starfleet Orion, Temple of Apshai, and the SubLogic Flight Simulator were pretty big purchases for me.
On the other hand, those games were *great*, and I got more gameplay out of those and certain others than a lot of later games all put together.

Re:This article makes me upset (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822002)

>Temple of Apshai
Oh hell yes. I couldn't believe how much game was packed into a single 88k floppy disk back then. I used to play this to death. When they later released a version (pretty sure it was Atari 800) with uprated graphics, I bought it all over again and it was awesome.
Thing was, back then, most of these games were like little movies in your head. The game couldn't really show what was happening in any real way so you had to imagine the various monsters, the creeping round corners and it often got genuinely scary.
It's a bit like when text adventures gave way to graphic adventures. Sure, they were technically far superior but something of the experience got lost along the way.
Off on a total tangent, my son asked me last night if there were Xboxes when I was a kid and when I stopped to explain how things were, I realised I've been playing computer games of some sort or another since 1977/78, 33 years, Jeeze...

Re:This article makes me upset (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822748)

A 6 hour, single-player, shitfest that's only around to serve as a DLC platform for $60, or Banjo Kazooie for $80.

There is an easy solution: Just do not buy the shitty games. If you buy the good ones instead you really won't have much issue, a Fallout 3, Oblivion, Mass Effect or Dragon Age will give you some 30+ hours of gameplay for cheap. Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 provide you tons of gameplay as well and you can probably buy both for less the $80. And even if neither of that isn't good enough, just play some old classics that you might have missed back then.

Not everything is perfect with todays games and some trends are questionable, but at the end of the day there are still more good games around then I have time to play.

Comparison in terms of production vs gains (2, Interesting)

XAD1975 (1628499) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821928)

It would be interesting to compare the prices broken down in percentages. How many %s for R&D, production costs, distribution, marketing, profit margin before tax, etc. I would suspect that over time, the costs have shifted towards marketing more than real innovation factors.

Re:Comparison in terms of production vs gains (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822940)

I would suspect that over time, the costs have shifted towards marketing more than real innovation factors.

I'm not sure why you would suspect that. Have you seen the credits for a modern game? Massive amounts of talent there. Meanwhile, back in the day, the games were created by one or a handful of people - while the elaborate box art and marketing had little to do with the game.

Most famously, there is E.T on the Atari 2600, where they paid a massive amount of money for the marketing power of the E.T brand, but the game was a primitive piece of shit, even for its time, that was rushed to market. The 80s was full of this kind of stuff. Today, even the film marketing tie-in games are held to a much higher standard. The emphasis on creativity and innovation is much higher than it was back then. It's a more competitive market, after all.

Being greedy (0)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821930)

There are more consoles and PCs in the market making manuf./distribution cheaper per unit. Add download services to drive ala steam d2d etc and it is even cheaper. Having 4 recessions between now and then (we are currently in one) keeps prices low since you have to try and keep a house over your head... they are just being greedy I hate whiny pieces like this one. -troll be happy we aren't charging you more.

Cartiridges were always expensive (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821938)

I'm pretty certain that games for my Amiga were considerably cheaper than those on the Sega Mega Drive.

An historic perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822200)

That should be "AN historic perspective" shouldn't it?

Second-hand games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822352)

Sure, you can get your games second-hand right now... but with the increasing use of online purchase tied into accounts, of serial activation and other such things, how much longer will it be before more publishers realise they can render it impossible to sell a game second-hand in the name of antipiracy? Ever tried reselling a game from Steam, or that you purchased on your iPhone from the app store? You can't, and that's exactly how the online distribution operators and games publishers want it.

$75 (1)

Jay Tarbox (48535) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822366)

As a teenager I paid $75 for The Ancient Art of War at Service Merchandise. I think MS Flight Simulator 1.0 was around that price too.

On a related note... (1)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822372)

I remember how much people complained about the price of the Playstation 3 when it first came out... (I still don't have one, or an Xbox 360, or a Wii, in case anyone wants to call me a fanboy.) I guess they forgot about the NEO-GEO. Hey, $599 is a pretty big chunk of change, no denying that. But the NEO-GEO home console debuted for $649...in 1990. (Which would make it over $990 in 2006 money.)

On the subject of game prices, NEO-GEO home cartridges were $200 and up at release, and the arcade operators were paying as much as $1000 a game for the arcade cartridges. (And that's in 1990 dollars!)

Ironically, right now, while NEO-GEO home console cartridges still go for between $100 and $500 for the more common games, those arcade cartridges can typically be had for under $100.

This would be why I bought a 4-slot NEO-GEO standup arcade cabinet for my birthday last year. ;) Good deals on some of the best arcade games of the 1990s and early 2000s!

So we are ignoring... (1)

The Hatchet (1766306) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822464)

The significantly higher costs of game production and distribution, along with the drastically inflated dollar? Hell, incomes are not exactly higher, but prices sure are steady, despite decreasing costs. They make easily twice the profit per sale as they did back then.

Clarity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33822666)

>But to be fair, DLC isn't factored in

What does the Democratic Leadership Council have to do with video games?

How about a little clarity in the summary before you start throwing around acronyms? Sort of a best practices thing, you know?

DLC, or Downloadable Content, in case anyone is curious.

I have no idea where they were shopping (2, Informative)

terrisus (108956) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822686)

From the article:
"Yes, some N64 games retailed for as high as $80, but it was also the high end of a 60 to 80 dollar range,"

I never recall paying more than $59.99US for an N64 game (maybe one of the games that came with something else in the box, but other than that), and have a number of receipts still sitting around to verify that (prices below from ebworld.com from a couple of purchases in 2000. I would have posted the full emails, but slashdot's filter kept being upset with it).
People now always seem to talk about regularly paying $70 or $80 for N64 games, but, I have no clue at all where people were shopping where they were paying that.

179934 $49.99 BANJO TOOIE N64
182565 $59.99 AIDYN CHRONICLES: 1ST MAGE N64
182829 $59.99 Mario Tennis
182835 $59.99 Legend of ZELDA 2: Majora's Mask
182837 $59.99 HEY YOU PIKACHU N64
182841 $59.99 PAPER MARIO STORY N64

162701 Perfect Dark $59.99
176879 OGRE BTLE 64 PRSN LORDLY CALIB $59.99
164384 Pokemon Stadium $59.99
175495 MARIO PARTY 2 N64 $49.99

Technology Bell Curve (1)

longbot (789962) | more than 3 years ago | (#33822764)

Games used to have good reason to be expensive back when the technology was new expensive to produce. I remember many PC games in the 1990s being in the $40+ dollar realm, at least as new releases. But after the PS2 came out, games settled down to a general maximum of $30 ($29.99) for most titles... led by consoles, and aped by the PC releases of the time. Starting with one of the GTA games (I think it was Vice City) prices crept steadily upwards. First there was the occasional new release at $39.99 when everything else was $29.99. And then another $10 hike. And then a new generation of consoles came out. And prices hiked again. The PS3 I get prices being higher for, BluRay is a relatively new technology. But the Xbox 360 just uses standard DVDs that cost pennies apiece to press in bulk. There seems to me to have been a clear downward trend in pricing for several years until this last batch of consoles came out, followed by a sharp hike that has yet to level out to the previous lows. I think that the game makers have finally realized that there are people that will pay $60 for a new game, and that's the market they're going to chase... not those of us more casual players, or on a tighter budget.

I have been saying this to people for YEARS!!! (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 3 years ago | (#33823242)

I paid $80 new at Toys R Us for Civilization for the SNES. It was worth every penny, but the reality is that it shows you after nearly 20 years prices have actually gone down and production costs gone up (remember that we didn't need all the artists and level designers like we do today). On top of that, you look

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