Comments on my prior blog entry about the price of games have me thinking. There are at least two upcoming PS3 games that I would love to purchase (The Last Remnant and Heavy Rain), and various others that I’d love to give a spin. It’s gotten to the point where, if the PS3 were the price of the average console, I would say it’s time to buy one. But– ouch. The price difference takes it from a range where I’d easily choose to purchase it, into a range where it’s not as easy of a decision for me. If Sony didn’t charge an exorbitant price for their console, I would shell out for it right now. Would they rather risk that I not do so? This is the direct impact of their decision, which they may have thought wouldn’t matter that much. Right here, right now, it is mattering: I definitely want one, but I won’t just run out and buy one now.
I suspect that because the Playstation caters more towards the older sector of the gaming crowd than the kids, Sony thought they could set a high price since it is a “mature” console. A high price for a working adult is more than a high price for a child, it’s true– but what they may have overlooked is that the price is simply a lot. Even without the downturn in today’s economy, the average American would have to be serious about gaming to buy a PS3.
Would Super Mario Bros. 3 alone be worth $100? I believe so, given what it delivers– but perhaps not to someone, even a serious gamer, who hasn’t played it. When buying a new console, gamers take the risk that there might not be any games on the console that captivate them enough to make it worth the price; perhaps they’ll neglect it and play mostly on some other console. It’s a lot of money down, betting that the reward will be worth the price. Even though there’s a good chance that the bet will pay off, how much money does the average gamer want to stake on that risk? There’s a certain price that gamers are used to staking; when that abruptly rises with no more guarantee of payoff than their usual price, it asks them to put more down for the same quality difference as they always get.
Maybe I’m biased because I’m so used to handheld games right now, so I’ve been buying less expensive games, but I feel like I’m getting just as much bang for fewer bucks that way. On the other hand, I’m going through DS games so much because it’s my only current-generation console, and it’s getting more releases than my old systems right now. The galling thing is that I don’t care a whit about graphical superiority– I just want to be able to play lots of fun new games, and it won’t be long before my TV consoles are obsolete.