Weekend Reading: A Question of Price for the PlayStation 4

Gamers are never happy to pay more for games or hardware

I’m not sure what constitutes a fair price for a video game these days, especially given the massive presence of the indie system, the various discounts that major sellers employ and the every changing landscape of the pre-order space.

I’m sure that many of the companies that sell the biggest titles on the market today are just as confused and price games mostly on tradition rather than up-to-date evaluation of their actual value to the player who buys them or the company itself.

When the PlayStation 4 was announced in late February many were annoyed by the fact that Sony did not actually announce a price point or range.

But the biggest problem the new console finally launches will not be the price of the actual hardware, which will be heavily linked to manufacturing costs and projected demand, but that of the video games that Sony will deliver alongside it.

The company and developers like Guerrilla Games are saying that it costs less to create a game for the PS4 than initially expected.

Other companies are suggesting that AAA titles will have to sell more copies to break even.

Some have suggested that a 10 dollar or Euro increase in retail price would help the industry in the long term.

But no one is asking whether high-profile video games from Sony, Microsoft, Activision, Electronic Arts and others are worth 60 or 70 dollars or Euro to the average gamer when it comes to actual entertainment value.

Netflix is booming and delivers series in chunks; mobile gaming is asking small prices for quite the same experience; social games space out payments over time.

All of them are clear threats to the traditional console ecosystem and all of them are eliminating some value from traditional retail.

Sony says that the PlayStation 4 will support free-to-play and indies, but if retail prices go up I’m not sure mainstream gamers will notice those trends.

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