Pipe Dreams – Pricing Awareness

Mediocre isn’t a bad thing. That’s why the term mediocre exists, because the item in question is not inherently terrible enough to be labelled “bad” – but that doesn’t mean it gets automatically upgraded to “good”. I realise I may not be in the majority, but I like to indulge in pieces of media that aren’t born into creation with the sole intention of changing the world. Evil Dead movies, books written by Jeremy Clarkson, the Earth Defence Force series – all these exist on my shelf, but I am aware they’re terrible in their own fantastic way. Some videogame-based companies appear to be slowly forgetting that, while being occasionally entertaining, their product is not always equal to others.

10 years ago you could, perhaps, justify the thought of picking up an average 5-7/10 game, because the pricing tended to reflect the quality fairly. If you had the urge to pick up Evil Dead: A Fist Full of Boomstick on PlayStation 2 or Xbox at launch it would cost you 20 of your British pounds, perhaps even 18 if you scored a good deal at Electronics Boutique. Now if you want to buy any current gen console game you’re looking down the barrel of £45-55 on launch, regardless of quality. This isn’t to say every developer/publisher is guilty of this, but there does appear to be a notable decrease in games launching at a lower RRP price. It almost always seems to be a case of lowering the inflated launch price by around 20-30% a few weeks after release and carrying on like normal.

Representation of Deep Silver the day they released 'Ride To Hell: Retribution'.
Representation of Deep Silver the day they released ‘Ride To Hell: Retribution’.

This doesn’t even take into consideration the companies that unashamedly and fragrantly shove unworthy titles out of the door at full price in the hope of enough copies being begrudgingly picked up on a quiet Friday night in order to pay off the development cycle. Ride To Hell: Retribution released with a pricetag of £39.99… £39.99! One of the most obscene launch prices ever for that quality barrier. Even now, at time of writing, Rambo: The Video Game is sitting on the front page of Steam for £25 (and that’s with a ‘generous’ 15% off) – the same price as either the newly released Thief or the even more recently released Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. It’s damn insulting to the gaming public at large that these companies either have zero self-awareness for their own product, or have the gall to pretend their title is worthy of equal merit and therefore cost.


Even hardware manufacturers are guilty of this practice. Microsoft launched the Xbox One in the UK for a price of £429.99, a full £80 above the PS4 standard, and now less than 3 months post-launch have dropped the price to £399.99 (with Titanfall – one of the most anticipated games for the system). It’s even possible to scrape this down to £369.99 if you spend a bit of time shopping around online.

One of the biggest failings of the Xbox One is not the hardware involved, it’s not the Kinect sensor, it’s the lack of consumer trust. Microsoft did every possible PR move wrong, and then went to market with a heavily overpriced product which has them currently trailing Sony’s sales dramatically. Now, imagine the Xbox One had launched at £369.99 (the price at which you can currently buy one due to the recent price cut). I think we would be seeing a much greater power struggle, because pricing is damned important.

Artwork relevant to the quality of games on show.
Artwork relevant to the quality of games on show.

These practices need to stop. I’m not ignorant as to why some of these price points occur; it all boils down to customer psychology, or at least the perceived psychology of a customer. The intention is that a customer will look at a shelf, and if they see one product for £39.99, and another next to it for £29.99, that the cheaper option is worse in quality. This isn’t the way the gaming market tends to lean though. Payday 2, at no point, was considered an inferior game because of its £24.99 launch price. In fact it was profitable from pre-orders alone, was sold out for weeks on end post-launch, and even had copies selling for upward of £60-70 on eBay the entire time due to demand. Do you believe the game would’ve ever gone to retail with a RRP £69.99 price tag? No. They knew the quality of the game, knew their audience, and knew what price range that audience would pay.

The gaming community is nothing if not loyal. Gamers put their trust into a developer or a publisher, debatably, more than any other form of consumerism. If Valve, at this very moment, announced a new game IP that focussed on the idea of a intergalactic ducks in search of their long lost water universe there would be people who would trust it was going to be a good game.

Mediocre isn’t a bad thing. I personally even go as far as to say it can be a positive for the gaming universe. Make a product, make it enjoyable for what it is, price it accordingly, and I will be far more likely to buy the game. If the upcoming Earth Defence Force 2025 on PS4 is released at £49.99 then I will not touch it, but if it comes out at £29-34.99 then you have my pre-order. Here’s hoping this generation of consoles doesn’t suffer from a lack of pricing awareness, and accepts that not every videogame needs to be BAFTA worthy to be worth something to the community.

That’s it for this episode of Pipe Dreams, my name’s Duncan Aird and I approve these dreams.


Do you have a suggestion for future Pipe Dream posts? I want to hear it! I think it would be awesome, and make my job a lot easier, so please do leave it as a comment down below. However, if you would prefer to use that social networking addiction we all have constructively, you can also Tweet your thoughts to @ReadyUp with the hashtag #RUPipeDreams, or just put a post over on our Facebook Page. The options are endless! Except those three are pretty much all of the options… I look forward to each and every one of your opinions! Especially if you bought a Day One Xbox One. You poor bastard.


One response to “Pipe Dreams – Pricing Awareness”

  1. Simon avatar

    Russia invades Europe, Liverpool challenge for the Premier League title and Duncan calls a Rambo game out on its quality.
    (things I never thought I’d see in my lifetime)

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