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The Economy of Gaming: Why Paying To Play Is A GOOD Thing

Posted by Yogizilla on May 8, 2011

Hello Yu-Gi-Oh! fans, video game geeks, and strategy buffs!

Today’s article will be a bit of a break from the very Yu-Gi-Oh! and Japanese-centric stuff we tend to have here on DPO (I think Rin should keep every geek out there very happy). I want to discuss an issue that affects all of us, yet very few of us truly grasp: the economy of gaming.

A while ago I read a very moving article about how used games hurt the gaming industry. Thing is, used games only represent only one facet of what is really a much greater issue. That issue is that games are becoming more expensive to make as games are made with high production value (i.e. nice eye candy) in mind. With the cost of publishing, distributing, marketing, and all sorts of overhead on top of it all, it’s not just about developing a good video game: you need a massive budget or at least a really good plan to have significant market penetration. The costs of putting out a game can sneak up on developers, especially the small and indie shops, which means that the cost needs to be passed on to the consumer or off-set somehow. Developers have mouths to feed too, you know!

Sadly, there are gamers that do not understand basic economic rules such as supply-and-demand and marketing overhead. They want games to be cheap and, sometimes, free. Surely, we all like free stuff so I ain’t knocking you bargain hunters out there. As a gamer, I love when I can find a great game that I can involve my gaming group, The Nipples of Fate (NoF), in without having to pay a single red cent. It makes easier for everyone to jump on-board or at least try it out.

The issue here is that, as games become more expensive, many online gaming experiences are becoming more exclusive. Video games are reaching more of a luxury status as next-gen systems become over-priced and, at times, scarce. If you’re old like me, the price points we’ve grown accustomed to have gone from $39.99-49,99 to $59.99-69.99 and, when you’re on a tight budget, that extra $20 can be better spent on gas, public transportation, or lunch money, depending on your needs. Of course, you have to factor in inflation, which really makes video games costs about the same for the past three decades.

Used games form the PS2-XBox-Gamecube generation, thanks to GayGamer.net

Apparently, used games were not enough to keep Circuit City afloat. (Courtesy of GayGamer.net)

In-game ads are one thing that we’ll see more of because it kees prices stable without compromising the quality of content. Ads also keep the real penny pinchers from having something to whine about. Every gaming community has jaded consumers. They’re either non-gamers with kids that are costing them thousands of dollars a year in video game-related expenses or they are close-minded people that do not consider video game developers as real professionals. Either way, there is a silly notion that all the hard work should be done for free or dirt cheap. It’d be nice to subscribe to such bohemian, hippy ways but, unfortunately, we all have financial responsibilities to fulfill and you can’t pay bills with smiles, fan mail, and pretty flowers.

No one is really complaining about the in-game ads right now because they have been pretty subtle for the most part but, in three to five years, when the next major gaming platform wars start all over again, I suspect people will start to show concern about the use of ads. The sad reality is that the money for games have to come from somewhere. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, as they say. Eventually, someone has to cough up some money to keep a project afloat. I can see ads becoming more intrusive performance bottlenecks.

No matter how much you try to explain to people that things take money to keep going, they beg for FREEdom. The #1 issue that made us decide to make DPO into a geeky fan site (and stop selling DP) is the simple fact that we got tired of the spam…

hi am 5 years old an no money gimme free duel pass now or will pee on ur site thx

It got real old real quick, hence why I am posting this article here first, rather than Y3B. Let’s face it, fellow gamers: the video game industry thrives on money. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Sure, there are some free video games out there but, if it’s not in-game ads paying the bills, it’s premium services and microtransactions. Just look at the Korean video game industry and Facebook apps. Gunbound, Combat Arms, Farmville, and countless other games reel you in with the free experience but, to get the full offerings, you need to pony up money.

Even free fan sites like SetoKaiba.com introduce suspect issues. You have security issues and the worries of wondering if your favorite online game will keep going. People can only volunteer their services for free or “on the cheap” for so long. A lack of profitability is what ultimately killed ARC. This little-known game was great fun and it was free, but the community still complained and wanted more, even after ads and sponsors were nuked.

Look at all the video game companies dying off or being swallowed up by EA or Vivendi Universal/Sierra. It’s a tough marketplace. Most video game developers and publishers are just barely turning a profit or breaking even. As much as we want to point fingers at evil corporations, the reality of things is that gaming companies are always one or two video games away from closing doors.

On the flip side, I do feel the video game industry is littered with idiots. We have gaming companies that say used games are hurting them. PlayNoEvil had a good article on the impact of pirating and used games on the video game industry. It was an interesting read.

I can see pirating as an issue but, really, pirates are usually the people that don’t have the money to spend nor do they see the value in paying for something. Whatever the case, no one is really losing money because those are not your core users anyway. It’s a moot point. As for used games, let’s be honest: some video games aren’t worth buying as new releases.

Either way, the video game companies out there need to realize that we, as seasoned video game geeks, have high standards and expectations. I’d rather see quality over quantity. Innovate a bit, rather than building yesterday’s hit, only a little better. It’d be nice to see video games have longer shelf lives, especially on the consoles. Here’s a tip for the big players in the video game industry: support your video games fully and don’t leave your loyal fans high and dry. Let’s try that, k?

Really, when I buy a used video game, it’s because I don’t feel there is any real benefit in early adoption or pre-ordering (most pre-order perks are LAME). Being a part of water cooler conversations isn’t enough for me to drop $65 on a video game that I’m not even sure my friends will play. No online play? I’ll pass. Sometimes, it’s just bad timing: too many good online video games active at one time. You can’t all be Call of Duty or WoW popular. Sorry to have to break the news to you.

Believe me, I don’t blindly support the megacorporations out there. There are definitely questionable business ethics and tactis in play. I just see the issue from both sides. I’m a gamer and a game developer so I can appreciate how everyone feels. Used games and pirating are not killing the industry but a lack of quality, innovation, and customer appreciation sure is!

With that in mind, if you want to play the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG online but don’t want to pay to play on Yu-Gi-Oh! Online, consider used games for the DS or XBox 360. Just a few weeks back (around mid-April 2011) they had Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Decade Duels (XBox 360) for $5 and it doesn’t get cheaper than that! If you’re an XBox LIVE Gold member, the game is free to play online, technically; otherwise, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Championship 2011 (or whatever it’s called) for the DS just recently came out and that’s free to play online via Wi-Fi. As far as I’m concerned, Konami has listened to their customers and is budging but they need to make big changes to Yu-Gi-Oh! Online (PC) to have more global support. It’s all economics and we gamers want to spend our hard-earned money where we feel it is best invested, not squandered.

As for the rest of you cheap gamers out there, don’t worry: you’ve got cheap gaming options. Please don’t ask for free DP (see our FAQ). Lulz

What do you think? Are video game companies raping their customers or are they just trying to make a living? What are your favorite game developers and publishers? Why?

More geeky discussion and follow-up to come at Y3B, my first Yogizilla-branded blog!

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One Response to “The Economy of Gaming: Why Paying To Play Is A GOOD Thing”

  1. […] The Economy of Gaming: Why Paying To Play Is A GOOD Thing […]

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