With the announcement that No Man’s Sky is due to release at £50 in June, the subject of pricing rears its head again. Ben, the man of many opinions, gives his thoughts were on the matter.
|Name:||No Man’s Sky|
|Release date:||June 2016|
|PEGI rating:||Not listed|
|Platforms:||PC, PlayStation 4|
|More information:||Official website|
Usually I would open something like this with a discussion about perceived value, market forces and demand / supply economics. In the case of No Man’s Sky however, it feels like there is something a little larger at play: it’s finally opened the debate around when an indie game isn’t an indie game anymore.
The anger towards the pricing seems to be that Hello Games and Sony are breaking an unwritten rule that titles made outside of a large studio (what constitutes ‘large’, by the way?) can’t be priced at higher than £20 – which is a nonsense when you think about it. This is a game that was announced over three years ago, which means it’s been in development for much longer. That’s maybe four years of these developer’s lives taken up, four years that included a flood which destroyed most of their work and four years without an end product to generate an income.
Can a title no longer be ‘indie’ if it goes above a certain price? Don’t be ridiculous. What it does do is make the point that price is no longer a differentiator between studio sizes. It’s something I’m glad about. I don’t want there to be boundaries in gaming. I want games to just be known as games. We don’t need to classify them. They are a massive, global entertainment industry which has just as much variety and depth as film, music and art. There are releases that cater for the audience that want a huge spectacle and there are releases that give the niche fans what they crave. Surely developers should be allowed to price their games as they choose?
Agreed, the games-buying market is quite entitled to have an opinion and expectation of price but by the same token so is the developer. It is they who have the transparency on costs, on future projects, income and – most importantly – the nature of the exclusivity deal with Sony. The distributor will have no doubt paid a sum up front, possibly a retainer and possibly and advance. Some of it may well need to be recovered. While a game may sell for £50, the developer will receive only a small portion after costs and other disbursements.
Then you have the price-versus-playtime angle. No Man’s Sky is a title designed to be played for well over fifty hours which, if you look at it that way, is a £1 per hour investment. Do you buy a coffee at least once a week? Then you’re already spending more on coffee than you would on this game. Everything is relative.
Finally is your personal perception of value. Everyone has a different way of calculating the value of something and its worth to them. You might use the pounds-per-hour method, or quality of experience, or maybe how often you can replay it. The important thing to remember is this: only you can decide what something is worth to you.
If you feel a game, downloadable content or anything else is too expensive don’t buy it. Wait until the price is right for you.