The term ‘value’ has been used recently when discussing the current state of downloadable content and the recent practices associated with them. Many players make their purchasing decisions based on the obvious. Either they were a fan of the series so far, saw the trailers and already made up their minds to buy the game, made an informed decision based on reviews, or bought it thinking it would tailor to their tastes as a gamer. Whatever the reason may be for why we DID make our purchasing decisions on games, when a game is purchased it is usually a sunk cost. Every once in a blue moon, a game will go up in value over time, usually due to some sort of collectible status (Legend of Zelda for NES or Earthbound for the SNES). Beyond this rare happenstance, games become another spot in your collection of entertainment media. I won’t discuss the trade-in system because I believe it is a bit ludicrous to offer gamers $5 dollars for a game they paid $60 dollars for and will make the game shop retailer another $60-$80 dollar at the least, once it has run the disc’s lifespan.
You’ve got your game, you are taking it home and unwrapping it out of that shiny-clear plastic, and for that 5-10 minute car ride home you are blazing through red lights and it feels like Christmas day! Have you ever looked back and evaluated your decisions? I think we all do a quick micro-thought a few years later when someone mentions a game you played for a while and now barely touch, but how would you know how they stack up to each other?
The GVQ is the Game Value Quotient, and it just might make you consider some things when buying games and DLC. A few friends and I have been using this tool to assign how important a game is/was to us. The math is simple. Even a dummy like me can do it. You take the amount of hours you have put into the game, divide that by the dollar amount, and the result is a quotient that will tell you how much you have valued a game.
300+ hours/$15 Dollars = 20 (Minecraft)
500+ hours/$60 Dollars = 8.3 (Street Fighter IV)
4 hours/$60 Dollars = 0.066 (Kingdom of Fire: COD)
Yes, I know the gaming community has a love-hate relationship with Minecraft, you can tease me if want to. If we examine pricing this way (how many hours of entertainment we get per dollar), it really puts some things into perspective.
Let’s talk about downloadable content! The two biggest and most recent culprits of some morally questionable DLC are undoubtedly Bioware (with their collectors only or paid pre-release DLC) and Capcom (12 extra characters on the Street Fighter x Tekken disc that we will have to pay for later). Whenever DLC is released, game companies are effectively asking you to lower your GVQ unless the amount of hours you spend in the game will now increase to cover the excess price tag they put on your game. In the case of Call of Duty map packs, gamers are certainly willing to spend the extra cash to get those 3-5 new maps to play on because it is their hobby; Call of Duty defines them! Activision will spend the time and money on development of those maps or game modes to increase spending on their current title and hold off releasing a new Call of Duty game.
With The next generation of games set to launch this year with the Wii-U and both Microsoft and Sony promising their new gear to be announced soon, pricing on new games is still being speculated on. Will you pay a $70-$80 dollar price tag if companies decide to jack up the prices? Consumers often forget how we control the prices we pay for anything, the laws of supply and demand are basic: if we don’t like the price of games, we must slow or halt our purchasing of new titles until prices are lowered. This generation has seen a consistent $60 dollar standard pricing for our new titles, gamers, and companies have reached golden equilibrium for now. The same laws of supply and demand are definitely in effect for DLC.
The recent controversies have reminded many of us that gaming is about how much value we can take away from our games. The bottom line is that DLC is great for some and terrible for others. But, if we are strict about what we add to our games, I believe the message developers will get is that they need to be strict with their final product. Please, remember this next time you are on the XBL Marketplace or the PSN Shop.