Friday, May 30, 2008

On The Rain-Slick Slope

Two recent events have caused me to be very concerned about the prices we'll be paying for Xbox Live Arcade games in the near future.

First, Microsoft announced that they will be restructuring the XBLA. Basically, this means they will be de-listing titles that don't perform well or get low scores on Metacritic. You know this will include mostly retro titles that debuted at 400 points. I don't know why they don't just discount them and try to boost sales. The whole point of having digital distribution is to save money on packaging and shelf space. Arcade titles don't require any of that, so why take them off the service?

Second, the Penny Arcade game sold over 16k copies so far according to X3F. This means that, even with it's hefty $20 price tag, it still sold extremely well. Now, there's nothing wrong with a game selling well. The problem is the message that is sent by those numbers. Pricing the game at $20 was a risk, but it was also a way to test the waters to see if the world is ready for a 1600 point arcade game. Well, according to over 16,000 of you, we are. Thanks for fucking the rest of us!

Now, everyone makes the argument that the game is 7-8 hours, which is more than some retail games. And they say that those of us that speak out against the prices are just too poor to buy them. I call bullshit on both those arguments and I'll tell you why.

First off, 7-8 hours of gameplay is fine, but that's all you get. There's no multiplayer. There's no real replay value unless you want to play the same story multiple times. Also, if it were a retail game you would have the option to trade it in for credit or sell it on eBay. With the digital distribution, the game will just sit on your hard drive forever.

Finally, just because I don't want to drop $20 on a 8 hour game does not mean I'm poor. It means I'm not willing to support higher prices for the sake of higher prices. I'm all for the advancement of the industry, but this just smacks of the fleecing of the 360 install base.

Some people who are big PA fans may think the game is reasonably priced, but I say it's just one more step in the direction of higher prices and less value for the consumer.
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