Will $60 Console Games Go the Way of the Dodo?

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Ten years ago premium game content sold for $50 and it wasn’t uncommon to find budget games for much less. ESPN NFL 2K5 sold for $20 at launch in 2004, badly denting sales of EA’s Madden series and forcing them to cut the price of Madden 05 to $30. The next year EA signed an exclusive agreement that allowed them to raise the price back to $50.

Boy things have changed. The standard price of a PS3 or Xbox 360 game is $60. Although there are many download-only games on PSN and Xbox Live for much cheaper, even run-of-the-mill second-rate games are going for much more than they are worth. This has led to gamers spending less money buying new games and more time playing games that they already own.

One industry insider thinks that the change in habits will force the industry to adapt in a radical way. THQ’s new president, Jason Rubin, told Game Informer that he envisions a future beyond the $60 video game and it is part of his strategy to turn THQ around.

“In general, how do you succeed with games that aren’t Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Assassin’s Creed?” Rubin asked himself. “The way the industry has been set up with all titles selling for roughly the same price at retail next to each other is that there’s been a race to make the biggest, baddest-ass game. If you walk into a store as a gamer and see a massive $120 million dollar game next to a $30 million dollar game, and a $80 million marketing budget backed that $120 million game up, it’s likely you’re going to pull that one off the shelf.”

According to Rubin, the way for smaller outfits like THQ to survive is not to go toe-to-toe with budgets like Call of Duty’s, but to change strategies. “As time progresses, the entire industry will move closer to what we see in the PC model emerging now, which is a lot of different-sized games and different types of games that all get a place in the sun because you can buy things that aren’t $60 boxed goods. If you look at something like Portal, an excellent game that clearly is not a Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, bingo.”

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