2023 is proving to be one of the better years for video game releases with games such as the "Dead Space" remake, the "Resident Evil 4" remake and the future release of Legend of Zelda’s newest installment: "Kingdom of Tears." However, the affordability of hardware and games is at an all-time high.
The standard price of games used to be $60, which to some people may seem like a lot already. Now, even those prices are becoming rare with next-generation consoles pricing their games from $70 to almost $100, in addition to the price of the console itself like the PlayStation 5, which is priced at $400, or more, depending on the version. Meanwhile, online markets for PC gamers such as Steam or The Epic Game Store price standard games at $59.99 for brand new games. These are games with the same graphics, software, story and quality as the console version, so why are their console counterparts so much more expensive?
The answer is simple when you break it down. While companies like PlayStation and Xbox host games on their platforms, they do not actually make these games. Arguably one of Playstation’s best-selling games, The Last of Us, was created by Naughty Dog and was exclusive to Playstation hardware until recently.
Console companies get a percentage of the profit, with the industry’s standard being 30%. This limits how much profit a game developer is seeing from their creations and is one of the factors why you don’t typically see indie games being hosted by Sony or Microsoft, the companies that own PlayStation and Xbox. However, in the PC realm, the standard fee is only 12%, and Itch.Io has the lowest fee of 10%.
If a game is hosted on PC, typically the developers see more of a profit going straight to them. In turn, the insane prices of console games could be blamed on these percentages that take away what a game company sees in profit from a game.
For me, I could not justify spending more than $60 on a game that wasn’t a pre-order or some kind of special edition. This has led me to move everything over to a PC, where the hardware of a decent gaming computer is more of an investment than a console since the PC is going to last me longer than five years and if I need to update my graphics, I can do that individually. The most upsetting factor about making this switch is realizing how much money I would be saving due to the many sales online distributors like Steam and Epic Games have. Epic even goes as having free games of the week that are normally $60 or more anywhere else.
However, I can understand people’s hesitation as usually gaming laptops and desktops are expensive, and there is more of a learning curve for them. You have to understand how to tweak certain settings to get the best performance out of them and the many updates you have to do will take some time to adjust.
I understand why a lot of people feel more comfortable with a console that you more or less just plug in and play but, when you have rising prices and a lack of inventory, switching to PC just sounds easier, especially if you are considering a gaming laptop.
Gaming is a popular hobby that can be shared among friends, but $80 becoming a standard for console games is going to reduce affordability when these new consoles are already so expensive. It’s going to prevent a lot of people from enjoying these new and exciting games, which may negatively impact the developers behind them.
The problem is complicated. Everyone needs to make money in this exchange, but the appeal of console gaming is waning because of that need. If some of these console game companies lowered the percentages taken from these games from 30% to something similar to the 12% that Steam and Epic Games take, developers could see more of their profit and prices wouldn’t be so high.
Despite this, people are still going to have brand loyalty. There are many who refuse to buy other consoles because they favor one over the next one. It’s the same debate people have been having for years over Xbox or PlayStation; a lot of people are loyal to these consoles because they often come with perks like exclusive games.
To this day, only Xbox players can play the Fable series and only Nintendo players can play Zelda titles. It’s exclusive titles like these that keep people coming back to consoles and prevent people from switching. Although, these prices might just be enough to drive people away from buying new console games altogether.
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