Press Start to Pay

Nope, that’s not a typo.  The cost of gaming has gone through the roof, and in this economy, I don’t think that even the national pastime of sitting on your ass pressing buttons is going to survive much longer.

Let it be said now that I am and always have been an avid gamer; Pokemon, Mario, Zelda, etc., ad infinitum. But being a jobless student means I don’t have the money to fund my hobby; so I rely on holiday gifts. But with the cost of the plastic discs and cards that we all love rising all time, the number of games I get as gifts shrinks. Remember the days when games and systems were cheap? Let’s take a look at what the prices look like now:

*Note: These estimates are based on quick searches*

System – $250 for 160 gb; $280 for 320 gb
Games – $60 list price — actual price may vary from seller to seller

Xbox 360:
System – $200 for 4 gb; $300 for 250 gb “Holiday Bundle;” ~$290 for 4 gb and Kinect; ~$395 for 250 gb “Holiday Bundle” with Kinect
Games – $60 list price — actual price may vary from seller to seller

System – Console bundles ranging between $150 and $200
Games – $50 list price for Nintendo properties (Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, etc.); $40 list price  third party games — these are HIGHLY prone to change; a lot of third party games are currently listing for $20, for instance. The Nintendo properties almost never change, however.

System: ~$185
Games: list prices between $20 – $40, leaning heavily on the $40 end

System: ~$120
Games: list prices between $20 – $35

PlayStation Vita:
System: $250+
Games: $30-$40

I remember when I got my GameBoy Color at Toys ‘R’ Us about… it must be 12 years ago by now. It cost me $70, a hefty sum to my 6 year-old self, but not one that took a very long time to save up. I got a GameBoy Advance for not much more, and the rest of my consoles thereafter were gifts. Games were relatively cheap, and I used to enjoy browsing the game section and buying new games. Now I buy used PS2 games and wait for pretty much everything else as gifts.

All right, I understand that these systems are the best money can buy, until the next generation comes out. But let’s face it, the cost of producing a plastic brick full of tiny metal bits, silicon, and wire cannot possibly be anywhere near what consumers pay. I can almost give the games a pass because of the time and manpower that goes into them; but in the end, they’re printed on discs that you can buy anywhere for a few cents each. And let’s face it, with the global economy the way it is, paying for things like food and shelter come before games and consoles.

At this point you’re probably wondering why I’m writing this article. After all, we all know how expensive gaming is. I’m not writing this just to vent though. My point here is that companies have decided that people will pay for ANYTHING. It started with MMORPGs. Between micro-transactions and subscriptions, online gaming quickly became a huge source of revenue. And then Microsoft realized that they could take it further. Instead of making you pay monthly for a game, or for certain privileges or items, you pay monthly to even be allowed to play online. And yet Xbox Live took off and is still going strong. Sony followed suit with PSN, although they probably should have worked out the security bugs first.

Again, that’s all old news, and though some of us may never agree with being forced to pay for the right to play games online, after buying the system and the games, and paying for Internet access, it’s the way of the world now. Nintendo is the only company with free online play, and let’s face it, XBL and PSN run rings around Nintendo Wi-Fi. But the pressing issue is a much more abhorrent one, that, if my guess is correct, no gamer will tolerate.

Sony has recently secured a patent to implement advertisements DURING games. That’s right, while you’re playing the latest Fallout or BioShock, you could find your white-knuckled shoot-out interrupted by an advertisement, maybe for another overpriced game. The article I read is linked below, and the comments afterwards are unanimously negative, going so far as to declare quitting gaming if this is implemented. And I can understand the sentiment. You’ve paid for the games, the system, the online access; why should you have to watch advertisements while you’re playing?

This is the same principle as buying music or movies. The whole point is to own a copy of an album, a movie, a television series, and be able to watch or listen without commercials. The same thing holds for games. Remember playing games on the Internet like Bejeweled and Zuma, and then buying them so that you could get the whole, uninterrupted version? Remember how annoying it was to see ads between levels? Imagine that on your home console. Not a pretty thought, is it?

I’ll end my rant here; it’s very early in the morning and I’m tired. Keep an eye out, I have a couple of book reviews lined up for the next posts.


One thought on “Press Start to Pay

  1. I’ts a growing trend that will only get worse. Inflation, competitive internet providers and ever more impressive technical strides, incorperated into consoles will continually push the price up, at least until no-one can afford them anymore. I may have to get a second job?!


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