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Are games too cheap and disposable?


Ketchup
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This is an odd post for me because like most people i love games being cheap and im glad the days of £60 releases are far behind us. But at the same time maybe games are too cheap and are becoming far too disposable. For example the other day on Steam i could buy Just Cause 2 for £2.50, Sega games drop to £10 in a matter of days and even hugely popular titles drop very quickly before they disappear and are forgotten.

The music and movie industry have worked out how to give their products a long shelf life. If i want a to buy a 10 year old CD new i can, same with films. Even though newer and better films are always coming out the classics are still easy to get new and are just as likely to be bought as a newer title.

Yet with games as soon as its been out a couple of weeks, new versions can't be found and its quickly forgotten about by stores, websites and gamers. Is this because games are too cheap and disposable? Most gamers don't even complete games anymore and just move on to the next marketed product. There used to be a time where i'd 100% a game or try all the modes but now i get my £10 worth of enjoyment and move on, even if i haven't seen all what the game offers just because a brand new game has come out at a bargain price. It just seems to be getting to a point where developers are just producing games for that launch day success when they could be making money off previous releases or by giving their games more room to breath.

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According to who?

Just one of many search results.

http://www.industrygamers.com/news/10-percent-of-gamers-complete-games-ndash-report/

"What I've been told as a blanket expectation is that 90 percent of players who start your game will never see the end of it unless they watch a clip on YouTube,” said Activision production contractor Keith Fuller.

The news gets even grimmer from Raptr, an online service that tracks online playing sessions and achievements. According to the company, only 10% of people who played Rockstar's blockbuster Red Dead Redemption actually finished the game.

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Red Dead Redemption can't really be considered the average example though. It was heavily promoted in mainstream media, I know a few 'normal' people who picked it up based on the hype. I'm sure LA Noire has a similar completion rate.

How many people actually complete non-story games though like racers? It can't be that many. It's been a fair while since I rinsed a game 100% because my time is limited and if a game isn't keeping me hooked in I'll move on, and yes the fact I can get tons of games for not much money adds to it.

It's a strange situation though. 6 or 7 years ago it was down to piracy and having too many games to play. Now it's cheap games.

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I rarely complete a game these days. To be honest, it's a rate occurance if I even play them more than a few hours. Back when game did the trade in thing, I traded in 70 games. I reckon I'd only completed maybe 25 of them, and that's probably being generous with my estimates.

Games aren't too cheap and disposable, though - no more so than when I was a kid. The difference now is I'm a grown man with an income and money to buy what I want, when I want it (within reason, obviously) - that is what has killed gaming for me. I used to get a game or two for my birthday, same for Christmas and then perhaps 1-2 throughout a given year and I'd have to play them to death as otherwise I'd never play games at all. Nowadays I'll think nothing of buying a game every other week, or picking up a couple at a time if they're cheap or in an offer, playing them for half an hour and never going back to them.

I guess it's just what happens when you 'grow up'.

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Many years ago I switched to never buying modern games new, they never hold their value, are largely single play unless they are stunning and possibly get a 2nd and VERY rarely a 3rd play through. Pick em up used on forums or wait a couple weeks until they are cheaper in shops, finish them and sell it on while it has it's value still. I play one game at a time to completion also, not many at once. Or one small game plus a huge game like skyrim for example. Finish tons of games that way.

Makes me laugh when you see people with dozens of the latest releases all bought new. My friend gets everything on release date and doesn't play it for months on end. Literally throwing money away, by the time he's playing it its worth about 12 quid. Always has to be the tinbox version also for some reason.

Games are very buy and play once, makes me wonder why I just don't rent them.

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Blimey, how could anyone that starts Red Dead Redemption not finish it? It's glorious!

It is mad how much content you can get for so little, these days. I remember saving up and buying Mortal Kombat on Mega Drive for £49.99! Playstation Plus just gave me 10 or so full, free games!

I do enjoy games so much more when I dedicate myself to one title. But I'm just so spoiled for choice and I'm not complaining.

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I haven't finished any games for ages except maybe Portal 2. That was about the right length. Most games are still too long for me to finish. What with work and other stuff, I might get a few hours game time a week if I'm lucky.

I think the whole thing with not finishing games is just a lack of time for most people. When we were kids we had much more time and could afford to spend hours every day playing without getting distracted after 5 minutes to do something. My 12 year old nephew seems to play his games to death and finish every game in a matter of days.

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I remember Valve released some Steam stats for Episode 1 and 2 which showed that just half of people who started the games completed it. And that's for an expansion that's just 4-6 hours long and which is generally considered at the top end of the FPS genre. And that's a high completion stat, evidence suggests completion percentage is more along the lines of 10-20%. Much as gamers like to complain about length, most people just stick a game on for a few hours and that's that.

Can't say I'm surprised that RDR is low down. It's long and quite repetitive. I bet the completion percentage for GTA4 is really low too.

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10 Years ago: After two months of saving up, spend 40 quid on a game in GAME I read about in a magazine. Spend the entire bus ride home reading the manual and feeling like Christmas had come early. Run back home from the bus stop, tripping over a paving stone in my street and getting my hands bloody. Kept on running because the game I was holding was more important than my physical health. Get home and immediately and continually play the game for the next week straight, spending as much free time possible playing it.

Now: Buy a game I've heard of online, but never really cared about, during a Steam sale for the price of a sandwich. Never even bother downloading or installing nine out of ten games. Install one six months later, play for an hour an get bored (Skyrim). Go back to browsing the internet.

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some games deserve to command higher prices for sure.

i think it's tragic that games by companies like CAVE, stuff like Dragon's Dogma, Dark Souls, etc, can't command a premium. i'd quite happily pay double of what i did for those games - the peoples responsible for those projects should be rewarded and incentivised to make sequels.

the economics of the (UK in particular) industry need some looking at. bloody pandering to the casuals, retail buyers etc.

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According to who?

I don't have the reference but Epic say that around 50% of players complete the Gears of War singleplayer, and they think that is high.

It's a valid point SM64. As mentioned, most games shouldn't and don't deserve the £40 price tag, long gone are the days where I felt games were a real gift.

Designing games in such a way that long term interest is maintained and loyalty reward is the hardest challenge that we currently face in industry.

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Like lots of us here, money isn't a limiting factor for me - it's time. For most single player games I expect between ten and twenty hours to complete the story and do a fair amount of side missions. Some weeks I'll only play console games for three hours or so. Others it's ten or more.

I don't play many games online for any length of time apart from COD.

I don't think 40 quid is an unreasonable figure for a brand new game that I'm going to play a lot, but I know I can get something on launch day, charge through it and sell it on, so Max Payne cost me under a tenner for 15 hours of entertainment. Not bad at all.

A lot of the other single player games I keep tend to get bought at 17.99 or less. With no need to play right after launch it's much easier to wait a month and save.

I do think it's a shame that games have such a narrow sales window before the price plummets and then they go second hand only (at least on the high street) though. I prefer to buy new so the publisher gets paid but that means going online where impulse purchases are harder. I've often fancied buying a new game, wandered into the local Game and found nothing I wanted or got put off by the thought of paying more for a second hand title than it would cost for a new one later that week.

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I prefer to rent games that I know I will only play through once. That way I can spend a mere £3 to enjoy a game through to the finish but it also encourages me to play the hell out of them before my Lovefilm 'credits' for the month tick over. If I get bored before it is completed I can send it back and have not wasted money on a disc that dwindles in value from the moment you remove the shrink wrap. The only games I buy are XBLA titles (usually at a discount) and multiplayer sports/fighting/racing games (once again when they have been reduced). The days of buying day one at full price, unless it is Pro Evo because I'm an idiot, are over for me.

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Blimey, how could anyone that starts Red Dead Redemption not finish it? It's glorious!

I enjoyed what I played of it, but never did finish it. Although I very rarely ever finish games, never really have been one for finishing most games I've played. In fact it's a rare occurrence when I do finish one.

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I am at a stage in life where I only play a few games a year. Partly it's because I've somewhat grown out of videogames (certainly dumb action games that I could have played 24/7 as a teenager), and partly because I don't have enough time to play things.

So I choose about six or seven of the best-reviewed games each year: a few of the big RPG blockbusters like Skyrim and Mass Effect 3; a few of the well-reviewed little indie games; then maybe a few specialist interests like pinball games. And that's it. I'm just not really a "gamer" any more... I'm a guy who plays a premium selection of the best games only.

But when I do play a game I intend to finish it and get my money's worth. The idea of leaving a game like Skyrim or Red Dead Redemption unfinished would nag away at me.

I'll tell you something: after-release DLC is pointless. I have never ever bought or played 3-month or 6-month DLC for a game. Why? Because once I've finished a big game I have unlearned how to play it. I was totally absorbed in those game worlds at the time, but a few months later I have totally forgotten the plot, the gameplay mechanics and the controls. I have no desire to jump in again and think, "Right. Where was I? How do the controls work again? Fuck, look at this level-up tree system, I can't remember how the hell it works..."

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I am at a stage in life where I only play a few games a year. Partly it's because I've somewhat grown out of videogames (certainly dumb action games that I could have played 24/7 as a teenager), and partly because I don't have enough time to play things.

So I choose about six or seven of the best-reviewed games each year: a few of the big RPG blockbusters like Skyrim and Mass Effect 3; a few of the well-reviewed little indie games; then maybe a few specialist interests like pinball games. And that's it. I'm just not really a "gamer" any more... I'm a guy who plays a premium selection of the best games only.

But when I do play a game I intend to finish it and get my money's worth. The idea of leaving a game like Skyrim or Red Dead Redemption unfinished would nag away at me.

I'll tell you something: after-release DLC is pointless. I have never ever bought or played 3-month or 6-month DLC for a game. Why? Because once I've finished a big game I have unlearned how to play it. I was totally absorbed in those game worlds at the time, but a few months later I have totally forgotten the plot, the gameplay mechanics and the controls. I have no desire to jump in again and think, "Right. Where was I? How do the controls work again? Fuck, look at this level-up tree system, I can't remember how the hell it works..."

You play six or seven games, at least, a year. You appear to have completed Skyrim and RDR. You use terms like "gameplay mechanics".

Methinks the gamer doth protest too much.

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I remember Valve released some Steam stats for Episode 1 and 2 which showed that just half of people who started the games completed it. And that's for an expansion that's just 4-6 hours long and which is generally considered at the top end of the FPS genre. And that's a high completion stat, evidence suggests completion percentage is more along the lines of 10-20%.

Here are those HL episode stats:

http://www.steampowe...com/status/ep1/

http://www.steampowe...2/ep2_stats.php

(In Ep2, 59% reached the final Strider battle map - but only 50% reached T Minus One, the end sequence!)

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David Cage mentioned something about the completion rate of Heavy Rain, 75% completion rate versus a more typical 25% for the average game, IIRC Epic touted a similar thing about generally poor completion rates a while ago, the average punter does not even get anywhere near the finish line, let alone have a Platinum trophy or 100% Achievements.

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I'm pretty much the opposite to that; as I kid my brother and I would pretty much spend every penny we had on games and I'd rarely complete anything before the next AAA title came along. We must have bought a good 20 to 30 each year (mainly due to lots of generous relatives at Christmas/Birthday times). Now I only buy two or three a year - usually big "open world" games like Skyrim or GTA, or relatively open ended driving games - and play them to death.

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Here are those HL episode stats:

http://www.steampowe...com/status/ep1/

http://www.steampowe...2/ep2_stats.php

(In Ep2, 59% reached the final Strider battle map - but only 50% reached T Minus One, the end sequence!)

I can well believe that. I absolutely hated that final bit with the striders. The end of ep1 was too easy, so they clearly thought they should beef it up a bit - they lost me. I'd been enjoying it immensely up to that point too. The frustration level went beyond the point where knowing I was near the end wouldn't make any difference.

It's an argument for more games that don't necessarily ramp up the difficulty, but are a good even experience from start to finish.

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I can remember James Cameron 'defending' the end of Terminator 2 at the time after constants moans from reviewers and the cinema-going public that said that the ending just wasn't explosive enough. He went onto say that surely the fact that they had had enjoyed the film up until that point and that a film doesn't all hinge on an the ending. I think game devs should take that on board.

Incidentally, I can remember really struggling with the Strider battle at the end of Ep 2 but I played it again recently and done it first time fairly easily and I'm by no means a great games player.

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More expensive games would simply make me into a choosier customer. I can be a choosier customer without a higher price tag. All I have to do is survive the initial month of hype the publisher's marketing department has been hired to inflict, and only the games that most matter still seem desirable.

The download age is giving older titles the same value as an album or an older film. If I want to buy a 10 year old game, outside of a Steam sale, the only means I have available to me, other than trawling through the second-hand section of a shop, is buying a download copy, which tends to come at a $5-10 price tag. Not as pricey as a film or album, but fair considering that the game will have aged noticeably in that decade.

I do think developer's should take into account more often the fact that players are looking for a reason to stop (due to choice and time commitments) their game, and build that into the gameplay somehow. Fable 2 experimented with this. You earned money for your character when you weren't playing the game. I don't think it was successful but at least they were thinking about it.

Valve probably learnt a thing or two from the Half Life Episodes. Portal seems to be a master class in getting people to complete a game. Does anybody know the completion rate of that game?

The future seems to be making games, even longer games, such as Skyrim, about brief 30 minutes sections of fun. I finished Skyrim because of the quest system. It was so easy to do one, take a break, and come back the next day. This is how Facebook games work too.

Unfortunately go down too far in the direction of Facebook games, and modern Blizzard games, which are ALL about getting people to come back for one more morsel of gameplay delight, and the player feels used.

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I can remember James Cameron 'defending' the end of Terminator 2 at the time after constants moans from reviewers and the cinema-going public that said that the ending just wasn't explosive enough. He went onto say that surely the fact that they had had enjoyed the film up until that point and that a film doesn't all hinge on an the ending. I think game devs should take that on board.

Completly agree. Deus ex HR is a very obvious example of me not completing a game to to ridiculous boss battles.

People quite often refer to difficulty spikes stopping people finishing games but I have no issue with difficulty spikes as long as they fit with the game and aren't some tacked on rubbish.

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Red Dead Redemption can't really be considered the average example though. It was heavily promoted in mainstream media, I know a few 'normal' people who picked it up based on the hype. I'm sure LA Noire has a similar completion rate.

Kinda funny but true. Last Tuesday I was browsing my local HMV and picked up RDR again for £2 on the 360 - reduced because it didn't have the original box or slipcover. Despite completing the story some 2 years ago when it came out, it was good timing because Xbox Live have released all the DLC packs including Undead Nightmare for 800M$ points which I never got to enjoy the first time round.

One or two games a year may warrant a day one or week one purchase but other than that I'm happy to wait a few weeks or longer before a title falls in price. With so many titles out these days, the community split in playing other games, there's less of a core group around to play with and invest in a title for a while (that may change with Halo 4). I used to have a lot of people on my friends list play FIFA but now this is even down to two or three at a time while many others are watching iPlayer or 4OD or some older SP game.

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Games are throwaway because they are cheap? I'm of the opposite view, games will never become mainstream unless they are priced better. I don't think the market in this age of austerity can support a blockbuster game priced at twice the going rate of a DVD or a book and I'll prefer to play the waiting game on such things. It's served me well since I started doing this in 1986 after buying The Sacred Armour of Antiriad for full price only to see it on a compilation months later.

I remember years ago Stuart Campbell ran the Fairplay Campaign and was pretty much mocked by the industry for being hurtful not helpful. And almost ten years on the market has outside of blockbuster come round. Look at all the games you can get on I-Tunes, Steam, PSN and X-Box live for a fraction of the price. The indie scene which had a bit of a small start back in the days of the Atari ST and Amiga has now exploded, it is possible to take a small idea and make it big. As much as we might scoff at casual games, they are still enjoyed by the masses and it's a far better way of bringing people into the gaming fold than getting them to try and learn how to play Tomb Raider without 20 years of gaming experience behind them.

As for 'second hand' ruining the industry.' I've said this before and I'll say it again. Second hand is almost dead. And it's not because of DRM or multiplayer. It's because of more efficient delivery methods and a longer tail. I used to be big into second hand due to price sensitivity and poor distribution. Price is no longer an issue and it's no longer a waiting game. I bought Alice:Madness returns on Steam on release because if was 2/3 the price of the physical copy. (Which left me money to buy the art book later.) I'll buy a load of indie games on day of release on Steam if I like the look of them (especially if I like the demo) because even the full price is fair $10AU being about how much Mastertronic and other budget titles used to go for in Oz.

And finally I can finally buy old games that I might of missed the first time around. I have most of the Megadrive releases that have been released one Steam. Why? The emulation is near perfect, it's cheaper and less hassle than finding the titles second hand so I bought the titles despite having the option to get the titles for free quite easily online. Most customers want to do the right thing and only turn to piracy or second hand if they can't buy the game anywhere. The games market for a while seemed quite content to have a three week purchase window for buying games which is madness when you look at how much work goes into making them.

So are games to cheap and throwaway? I guess that depends on your point of view. For me, I love my cheap digital copy of Escape Vektor as much as I love my more expensive purchases like Fallout 3. Just like back in the old days where I loved my copy of Thrust from an old covermounted tape as much if not more than I loved my Ultima 7.

And game completion stuff? Who cares, I've never ever finished Sonic the Hedgehog. But you know what? I got my monies worth from the bits I did play, Green Hill Zone alone gave me loads of entertainment. Besides, how many here have done a Billy Mitchell and 'completed' Pac Man?

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