Are Video Games Too Expensive?

An Xbox controller and collection of games
Alice Bennett

With the ever-increasing price of video games along with the cost of living crisis in the UK, gaming seems less accessible to those who don’t have £60 to spare on top of keeping up with the latest consoles and PCs. Alice discusses the rising cost of games and the consequences for players and the industry.

The Last of Us Part I and God of War Ragnarok currently retail at £69.99 and Hogwarts Legacy costs £64.99 on PlayStation. On top of this, the new instalment of The Legend of Zelda series, Tears of the Kingdom (coming out later this year), will cost £59.99 in the Nintendo eShop as the company is one of the latest to venture into this kind of price range.

As a masters student… I don’t have £70 to spend on a game

Personally, as a masters student working part-time to pay my rent, I don’t have £70 to spend on a game. Admittedly, this complaint is very privileged- complaining about not being able to afford a video game when there are so many people in the UK at the moment who can barely afford to pay their bills feels quite entitled. However, I still think it’s an issue worth exploring and many people use games as a much-needed escape from their stressful lives. So, why exactly are video games so pricey?

Are they actually more expensive than ever before?

To my surprise, a lot of the research would suggest that, in line with inflation, video games have actually gotten relatively cheaper over time. Some research suggests that an Atari game from 1977 would cost about $200 today, whereas many games nowadays retail at around $50-70. Video game prices have risen, but when you factor in inflation they are actually cheaper (although opinions and research on this does vary).

It should also be noted that video games take a tremendous amount of time and money to develop, particularly when meeting a tight deadline. Releases in recent years have produced insanely vast and detailed worlds as well as intricate gaming mechanics and require a multitude of resources including voice actors, artists, developers and expensive technology- so it might be far-fetched to expect a dramatic drop in-game prices. However, this does not factor in the prices of consoles, accessories, downloadable content (DLC) and microtransactions.

Are video games less accessible?

With prices upwards of £60, not even including DLC, I would still argue that video games are not accessible- £60 is still a large chunk of money, especially with everything else being so expensive. Although there are claims that games are relatively cheaper nowadays, keeping up with the more rapid influx of new releases and consoles is still not financially viable. 

Options for working-class kids are severely limited when it comes to video games

On top of this, options for working-class kids are severely limited when it comes to video games, as second-hand prices have risen sharply. This isn’t even considering the price of consoles, which are also too expensive even if bought second-hand. So what are the other options for those of us on a budget if the second-hand gaming market has been effectively ruined for the working class?

Microtransactions and DLC

Mobile games are, for me, not a good alternative. A lot of mobile games have very little content and many rely on microtransactions for anything that resembles rewarding and fun gameplay- again, not a viable option for people who are struggling during the cost of living crisis. The removal of Angry Birds is a rather sad example of new business models making games less accessible: Rovio explained that they removed the game as it was impacting their other games- essentially, only paying once to buy a game isn’t as profitable as microtransactions.

A lot of DLC is often more expensive than it’s worth

It’s especially insulting when the quality of a game turns out to not be worth it or doesn’t feel complete without purchasing DLC or microtransactions, and a lot of DLC is often more expensive than it’s worth. The Sims 4 expansion packs come to mind- I loved The Sims 3 expansions, but The Sims 4 packs have not only been underwhelming but even more expensive with content unnecessarily spread out across more packs. The creation of Game Packs and Kits along with the traditional bigger Expansion Packs and Stuff Packs means less content for your money; the recently released Growing Together expansion could have easily been combined with Parenthood and High School Years (which essentially would result in The Sims 3: Generations).

Gaming should be for everyone

So the price of video games is a more complex topic than I initially expected, as the games themselves have technically gotten cheaper- but changing business models and the rapid production of new consoles and games further complicate the issue.

It’s a shame that the industry has even made alternative options… essentially inaccessible

With inflation and extortionate bills, things like video games aren’t a priority at the moment for a lot of people regardless of whether or not they have become more expensive, but it’s a shame that the industry has even made alternative options like second-hand products and mobile gaming essentially inaccessible when gaming should be for everyone. 

Alice Bennett

Featured image courtesy of Oliver Beer via Unsplash. Image license found hereNo changes were made to this image.

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