There's a lot of people who think that games cost too much, and we won't be the first ones to disagree with them. Recently a group even tried to organise a boycot of games buying to get the message over to the publishers, but we're not expecting it to get much support, not in the run up to christms, with great games like Burnout 2, Timesplitters 2, and Colin McRae 3 about to hit the shelves.
But there is a chance that the prices of games are justified. Consider the simple economics of creating a video game.
With increasing complexity, even relatively simple games will take 4-10 people 1-2 years to complete. Compare this with your favourite bands, who (unless they are Stereo MCs, or Pink Floyd) are often quoted saying things like "We wrote the whole album in three weeks, came off tour and recorded it in a month."
An album has a potential audience of millions. The best-selling album of all time sold over 50,000,000 copies. The best selling PC game of all time sold 5.5 million! After just 9 weeks on the charts Hear'Say have sold over 500,000 copies of their crap album. Dido's No Angel has sold almost a million copies in the UK alone. Most games never sell that many copies globally... nowhere close.
Games cannot hope to achieve similar sales. So greater production costs are defrayed against fewer sales. The obvious result is higher prices. If games sold more, the prices could come down? and this might happen.
Although the video games industry is making many people rich, it's not a complete gold-rush. Many famously popular and successful games companies, with many hit games under their belts have gone tits-up. The most famous game in the World is Tomb Raider, a five game series, every one of which has been hugely successful. Yet publishers Eidos are loss making.
Then there's the console manufacturer's cut. A sum of around £4, which is taken at source from the game publisher. This figure gets multiplied by the distributor and retailer margins, so by the time you buy the game, there's a tenner of the price that is attributable to the console manufacturer's cut. If this sum were taken from the retailer, rather then the publisher, you could see a £10 cut in console game prices immediately...
If that doesn't make sense, consider this... Imagine the developer calculates his material costs, staff costs and profit to be £10 on every game he makes, so he sells his games to the publisher for for £10 a copy. The publisher marks them up by 50% and sells them to the distributor for £15. The distributor marks them up by 50% and sells them to the retailer for £22.50... The retailer marks them up by 50% and you pay £33.75 a copy...
But then Sony/Sega/Nintendo/Microsoft say, "We want £4 from every copy sold, and we want the publisher to give it to us."