October 31, 2006

[Games] Game Pricing (First-Gen/Next-Gen)

I'm still seeing a lot of people bitching about the price of "next-gen" games going up $10 from the US$50 price point that we have with the current generation. So, let's take a look at the granddaddy of them all, the Atari 2600, and compare it to today while adjusting for inflation.

The Atari 2600 launched in October 1977 for a price of $199. (Adjusted for inflation, that works out to a current-day price of $649.) Compare that to the Xbox 360 Pro SKU, which shipped at $399.

In the days of Atari, development budgets were small. Space Invaders for the 2600 was made for $11,000 (~$36,000 adjusted for inflation). Compare that to the minimum $2-10 million development cost it takes to make a game today.

Atari 2600 games cost US$20 at launch. ($65 adjusted for inflation.) Evidently, this means that even with the $60 price point for "next-gen" games, games are still cheaper than they were on the Atari 2600.

Now, I fully expect prices to decrease on games back to the traditional $50 price point over the next two years as economies of scale start to kick in, but in the meantime, $60 is still a good deal when compared to the past. And believe me, I never thought I'd say that the $600 PS3 SKU was a good deal compared to the Atari 2600...


Bishop said...

Eventually, you forget to take in account the fact that yeasteraday, the atari 2600 was selling thousands of games, and that nowaday everyone expect games to be sold at hundred of thousands copies...

Anyway, the problem in a next-gen game price is not the +10$, it's what you get for that amount. If it's only nice graphics but only 6 hours of gameplay, it's not worth it (that make 10$/hour, which would be far more expensive that a lot of things)

Michael Russell said...

Actually, sales figures were not that different from back then. The successful games from the era still averaged sales of 400k units and up. The retail quantity-to-sell economics haven't changed at all.

And as for the "six hours of gameplay" argument, you seem to be forgetting the system you are comparing it to. Thirty "different" game modes that last 90 seconds each is still only 45 minutes of gameplay. Pitfall! was designed to be beaten in 20 minutes.