It’s hard to deny that games are expensive, and often an initial purchase is not guaranteed to get you the full experience anymore.
For the past few years games have traditionally cost around $59.99 USD, with Canadian retailers sharing the same price tag, regardless of the differences between the US and Canadian dollars.
The average price of a new game in Canada.
In 2014, game prices in Canada shot up to $69.99 CAD, and have since further increased to around $74.99 CAD. Publishers blame the high cost of the Canadian dollar, which is around 25 cents more expensive than the American one.
Outside of Canada, gamers can feel the cold press of additional payments against their wallets. Star Wars Battlefront’s season pass costs $49.99 USD, which is almost as much as the base game. While not uncommon, with Batman Arkham Knight’s season pass costing almost as much, it is a sobering reminder that the initial $60 investment is merely a down payment.
Buying games is beginning to feel like making a down payment on a car.
Many games have taken to include microtransactions, with almost all recent major releases containing some form of them.
Metal Gear Solid 5 included the ability to purchase premium currency for its multiplayer component. Destiny recently added buyable dance moves. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has them, just like the previous game in the series. It’s also been recently announced that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will also include microtransactions for it’s multiplayer.
The reason for this may be because the gaming industry has had to deal with inflation. Since 2005, $60 has inflated to $70 CAD, and $73 USD. The cost of games has remained at around $60 during that time, and publishers are adding microtransactions to make up for that gap.
Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold membership seemingly serves as a result of the rising cost of games, while also offering “free” games to customers. Members pay a three-month fee at $24.99, or $59.99 for a year, to access online multiplayer for their games. Customers also receive discounts on digital goods and can add new games to their library every month with no additional cost.
"Free" games... for $60 a year.
The service has been successful enough that Sony adopted their own subscription service, Playstation Plus, that is mandatory for Playstation 4 users to play online multiplayer. This service also offers “free” games.
For gamers not wanting to fork out the cash, free-to-play games are becoming more popular. The most-played game on Steam is Dota 2, which averages around 300,000 players daily.
Emulation is also an option, as community blogger Esteban Sky Cuevas talked about in his blog post about the pros and cons of emulating games. There are some problems with it, such as whether or not it is legal, and that developers don’t get paid for it.
Emulation also tends to be for older consoles. Last-generation hardware, such as the Playstation 3, is still unable to be fully emulated, as the developers of the RPSC3 emulator have found. The software is still in the early phases, and is unable to play most PS3 games.
There has been an increase in cheaper games too. Telltale now produces several episodic series, which have been critically acclaimed, and Ubisoft even produced their own indie-style game, Grow Home.
Regardless of how you play games, no one is going to disagree that games are expensive. Either through emulating, piracy, importing, or even just waiting for games to go on sale, gamers will find a way to get the games they want to play.