If it feels like the cost of gaming has been getting more expensive, it’s because it has. The price of gaming has only been going up and there’s some important reasons for these cost increases.
Companies are actively trying to shift public perception of gaming cost from the $60 price point to the $70 price point. This reflects the increased complexity and production cost of video games, but also the upward trend of pricing in general. However there are still plenty of ways to get games for less than the asking price, which we explore later on.
Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about why videogames are getting so expensive.
What Work Actually Goes Into a Game?
There is a mountain of work that goes into even the most simple video game. Let’s take a look at just a few of these different types of work that needs to get done in order for your game to come out.
The bigger the game, the more people that will be working in these positions which will drive up the cost of the final product.
Graphics are one of the most important things about a video game. It needs to have a clear graphical style whether they’re going for a retro PlayStation or pixelated look or cutting edge realism.
This means hiring plenty of artists. This includes artists who work on concept art and drawings for characters and environments all the way over to digital artists who build 3D models and even architecture deer animation skeleton so that they can move in the game world.
Payscale suggests that the average game artist salary is near $60k per year, which is above the average American salary. And naturally, the more game artists you need, the higher the costs are to the game developer.
Design is another important aspect of gaming. This covers everything from the sound effects that you hear in the world, to the music, and even also informs the graphic decisions that are made.
Design is ever-present in video games. It even informs how video games are played. You design a game with a lot of elevated areas, you’re going to need to start programming and some platforming elements to make the most out of that part of your design.
Coding is the bread and butter of gaming. All names are either made in engines or made with code, but no matter how you make your game it all goes back to coding.
The best design and graphics in the world can be completely tarnished with bad coding. All you have to do is look at recent AAA launch fiascos like CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 77. That was a visually stunning game, but it was so full of bugs it was practically unplayable launch.
Thankfully many of these issues are now resolved, leading to a “mostly positive” Steam rating:
CD Projekt Red fell into that hole because they were trying to rush game development. There’s simply too much work that goes into modern games to try and force it through rather than waiting and getting all the coding done.
Play testing is an overlooked area of the work that goes into gaming. Play testers methodically explore and play through the game world to make sure everything works as intended. They search for everything for glitches that prevent you from completing quests to errors that could risk breaking your console or glitching out your computer.
There are also countless overhead costs that we need to consider. Every gaming company has an office which means that they’re paying rent for that space. Then there’s the marketing, big enough companies also have legal departments, and so many other factors that go into running a contemporary game development business.
Some of the Most Expensive PC Games
Almost all PC games still cost around $60, there are several that have broken the $100 price tag. We’re going to highlight a few of The oddities that jump out of some of the most expensive PC games that people actually played and reviewed.
VR-CPR is an incredibly expensive game, but there’s really not much to say about it. It’s a VR CPR simulator that aspires to help people learn the basics of CPR. However, reviews aren’t that impressive and even suggest that it’s trying to teach outdated methods of CPR.
Virtual Orator $199.99
Virtual Orator is a simple experience that feels very overly costly. It’s a game that hopes to help people get over their fear of public speaking by using VR to simulate the experience of giving a talk in front of a crowd audience.
Because of that high price tag, it’s not been very popular. However, a few of the reviews didn’t seem to suggest that I did help them get over their fear of public speaking.
Water and Hydrogeological Analysis Laboratories Enterprise is a VR game about analyzing water. It was a joint release between an Italian university and the EU.
If that sounds a little dull, critics agree. It doesn’t seem like many people are interested in this VR work sim and especially not at that price tag!
Sure, you can spend thousands on a truck driving simulator setup or buy vintage gaming technology for even more than that, but these were some of the most expensive games that you can buy right now on Steam.
Why Some PC Games Jumped to $70
Recently PC gamers noticed that some PC games jumped up to the $70 price point. You can think of the releases like the new Final Fantasy 7 remake that launched at $70 rather than the typical $60. What’s been causing this upward Trend in gaming cost?
First, we need to look at why games cost $60 in the first place. The $60 price point has held over the last decade and is only now starting to give way to higher numbers. There’s a few underlying factors driving this change.
The first thing increasing this cost is the fact that costs have increased across the board. Companies are looking to improve their profit margins and so prices have gone up for everything from gaming consoles to the games themselves.
Summary: The reason the $60 price point stuck for so long is because that’s what audiences have come to expect to pay for a fully released AAA game. New releases coming at $70 or just testing the water for higher price points for modern gaming.
This is also because games are more expensive than ever to make. We’re seeing games that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make which has historically unheard-of when it comes to game design (Star Citizen has so far cost $339+ million and counting!). The higher sticker cost reflects a desire to recuperate higher development costs on the part of the company’s.
You also have to look at the fact that people have been spending way more than $60 on games anyway. There is downloadable content, loot boxes, and cash shop items like alternative skins and other in-game purchases. When you factor those in, the average cost of a AAA game goes well above $60 already.
Why Are PC Game So Much More Expensive Than Console?
The cost of PC games compared to console games is one of the oldest debates in gaming. There are some good points to make about which one is actually more expensive than the other.
You get the people that say console gaming is much cheaper because you buy the gaming console and then you’re done. However, you can also build a budget gaming PC for a fraction of the cost of the latest PlayStation.
When you look at the games, you see some interesting problems when it comes to pricing:
- You can buy used physical copies of games at considerable discount even within a day or two of launch. That really doesn’t happen anymore when it comes to PC gaming.
- On the other hand, you can find AAA releases on sale for PC much more easily than you can for a console. This is because PC games can be distributed across wider platforms including things like Humble Bundle and Steam.
How to Get PC Games Cheap
We’ve got a few tips for ways that you can get PC games cheap.
Shop Steam Sales
This one might be obvious, but people often overlook the potential behind Steam sales. Sure, Steam sends you about 100 emails a day about items in your wishlist that are now on sale, but there are also larger sales spread across the platform.
The next time you are looking to buy a new game, browse some of those sales and you’re bound to find something that’s interesting and affordable.
Humble Bundle is also a great way to get games cheap. Humble Bundle is a charity that gives part of its proceeds to nonprofits. Humble Bundle often sells games for cheaper than you can get them for on Steam.
They also sell books, software, and plenty of other digital content. It’s worth checking out their latest bundles to see what kind of savings you can get on your games.
Go Indie on Steam and itch.io
AAA games are the most expensive and that means that you can look to indie games for an affordable alternative.
You can shop for indie games on Steam, but it’s also worth checking out competitors like itch.io. There are plenty of indie games for all play styles ranging from jrpgs to shooters and dating sims.
Check Game Devs for Their Own Sales
Game developers will often have their own sales that are reflected on Steam and other gaming platforms.
If you’re looking to pick up a new title from your favorite developer, you might want to head to their website and see if they have any sales for download codes.
Try Older Titles
You can also save money by buying games that are a little older.
You don’t have to go all retro and play something that originally came out for the Nintendo Entertainment System, but you can try games from the last few years that have gone from $60 new to $20 today.
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