So, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I keep coming to the same conclusion: The structure of PC Gaming pricing needs to change.
I am not saying prices are too high or that the game publishers do not deserve every penny that they get from all the work they’ve poured into making a quality product. Nor am I slamming places like Steam, Origin or GOG for “gouging” us. On the contrary, if I get several days, weeks, or in the rare case of sometimes months worth of gameplay out of a single title, I feel like I’ve gotten a major bargain. Plus, the above entities put things on sale a LOT – sometimes massively, and sometimes they give games away completely for free (Origin in particular).
My beef with these high prices on brand new or freaking NOT EVEN RELEASED YET games is that the vast majority of the time, all we get are some videos that the developer made (i.e. they spin it any way they want), a few screenshots, and a couple of paragraphs of text telling us the game is awesome. Yes, sometimes the developers get gaming publications to preview the game and then say the game is awesome, but that means virtually nothing to the peons like myself who would actually buy the game upon its release.
For example, I know everyone has been talking about the reboot of No Man’s Sky lately. I would love to try it out and see if it’s my cup of tea, and frankly after it bombed so horribly I am relatively interested in how they turned things around (more on this later). But I am not going to pay 60 dollars just to TRY something. I am not going to spend that and then 2 hours in realize the game controls are clunky, the game crashes unless you have a rig built by God himself, the gameplay is repetitive (which takes a good while for you to realize in any game), etc. You go through a house before buying it, you don’t just trust the pictures and the description the realtor gives you. Amazon lets you preview books before you buy them. So why does the gaming industry still have this “just trust us and give us your money” attitude?
As a matter of fact, this entire concept is what GameFly marketed itself with! Anyone else remember these commercials?
My suggested solution is simple: Give everyone a time limited, but not feature limited, free demo. That’s it. If it’s a Mario Brothers jumper type style game, let people play the game for free for 20 minutes. If it’s an enormous Skyrim type of game, give people an hour or two so they can customize their characters, learn how the game works, and then enjoy it for a bit. Let US determine if the game is awesome, and if we think it is, of course we’ll buy it! This would work fantastic for pre-release sales too, as giving everyone an hour or two taste of the game will leave them dying for the full game once it does come out.
It’s not rocket science nor is it a new idea – so why does the gaming industry not do this?