I found myself pondering last week when I bought Crackdown 2 as to why a game costs so much more than a film.
Are production costs higher? Are the margins thinner?
Is it pure greed?
Let's look at the extremes...
Big boat film, everyone has seen it, makes lots of money.
Cost: $247 million dollars
Gross: $1.8 billion dollars worldwide
Cost of DVD: $30 when launched
Only big title I can find a cost for.
Cost: Around $100 million dollars
Gross: $710 million in 2008 alone
Cost of Game: $60 on release
These are the top end releases we're looking at here. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that GTA4 has quite possibly made nearly as much as Titanic since it launched. Taking into account profits from strategy guides and promotional material etc.
So we're looking at an interesting notion here. The game cost less to make than the film, but made just as much because it was priced at a higher point. If we start comparing books and other media here we could probably find a similar ground argument.
Also, if GTA4 was launched at a lower price point would it have made even more money? And what if there was some sort of premiering format for games in the way that movies launch at the cinema?
Retail games are being priced too high. Especially when you consider the quality of titles on XBLA, PSN and WiiWare. A boxed retail game has too many overheads to consider and these games could potentially be suffering because of this.
You could argue that GTA4 is a longer experience than Titanic. But that argument falls apart when considering a copy of War and Peace in paperback. Maybe Molyneux is right to deliver Fable in sections over LIVE so that the experience can be shorter and more affordable.
You could then argue that GTA4 should be compare with sales of the Lord of the Rings movies complete.
So does this demonstrate that the model for videogames could be improved?
I believe so. Should Rockstar deliver another GTA they should consider moving towards an episodic campaign. Sales of Gay Tony and the Lost and Damned should prove that the model could work and Lionhead moving to release Fable 3 in both full and episodic should be turning heads.
The reality is that each of these formats are looking to tell a story. If the story is good enough then the player will come back for the next episode. Quality is necessary.
Thinking about Mario Galaxy, Nintendo want to create the game that is accessible to anyone. They experiment instead by providing an accessible experience. Make the game as easy to operate as possible so that the user focusses more on gameplay that control. Providing a bonus DVD with additional information is a good idea, but where they win out is making the game something that can be picked up and played at any point.
Consider Mario World. Paying for a game like that level by level could prove to be a stroke of genius on Nintendo's part. You could find that most people would never reach Bowser's castle. But Nintendo would know that based on sales, and would begin to wonder what went wrong. Quality would improve surely.
Imagine if you could only unlock the ability to purchase level 2 once you completed level 1. Suddenly the entire industry changes. There are no longer demos, instead you get the first level free.
A gamercard would be more revealing. You would be able to see who has actually played what level of a game. Reviewers would actually need to play the game through to review it because they would now be held to ransom by their achievements. Did they warp straight to level 8 and not pay for the other 6?
Something should change because games are being release quicker than ever with shoddy mistakes being made and terrible profit margins at the cost of the consumer. Reviewers are abusing their positions within the industry regardless of how they started out in the industry. Corruption happens everywhere none of this is fair on the consumer. read