Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are DVD and Game Prices Too High?

If you've ever been around forums, especially game and pop culture based ones, there is a complaint that runs through them all. That complaint is that video games and DVD's are too expensive these days, and you know what, every time I hear that, I think about how short our collective attention span is.

This is for North America by the way, because I know people who live in other regions get utterly reamed by local pricing. I just thought I would note that.

For instance, I remember back in the early 1980's, my parents bought my sister Centipede for the 2600 and it was 50 dollars. In today's dollars, that is $110.

And after the video game crash, I was getting games like Defender, E.T. and the like out of electronic department bins for 2-10 dollars, or 4-20 dollars today.

In 1984, my father bought a used copy of Apocalypse Now on VHS for $80, which today would be 164 bucks! I mean, you can buy a two-disc DVD set from Amazon of that for $15? I think he paid 60-70 for Raiders of the Lost Ark around that time too.

And after Christmas 1986, I got a Nintendo that didn't have Super Mario Brothers, so I had to go and buy that for 35, which is $67.85 by today's standards. And I remember getting a number of games in that system's lifespan at 50-60 dollars, even near the end of its lifespan, so there were titles I was paying nearly 100 2008 dollars for.

About that same time, I remember going out and getting a VHS copy of Ghostbusters 2 for around 30... which is nearly 50 today.

Skipping ahead, I bought Final Fantasy III for the Super Nintendo for 65 dollars, which is about 95 today (though this is one of those rare cases where it is something in the gaming world that has kept its value).

Now that you've gotten the basic gist of what I am doing, I can speed things up to get to my point.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for the Sega Saturn, January 1997: 70 dollars = $93.50
FIFA 2000 for Playstation, December 1999: 60 dollars = $74.31
The Matrix Reloaded (Widescreen) on DVD the week it was released in 2003: 28 dollars = $31.67
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the Playstation 2, May 2005 60 dollars = $65.62

So when you look at game prices, they have basically stayed pretty numerically consistent for decades. I mean since 1982, books have gotten more expensive, going to the movies has gotten more expensive, cable prices have gotten more expensive... but electronic entertainment has pretty much cost the same amount of money numerically (and thus, been slowly getting cheaper by standard inflationary terms). Aside from a 5-10 dollar buffer here and there, game prices have been remarkably consistent over the years, and considering the cost of development for interactive entertainment has grown so much over the past few software generations, it is remarkable that the price point has remained so consistent (because think about it... E.T. was developed in 5 weeks by basically one guy).

And for everything that Blu-Ray offers and some of the prices of those discs online, well, I don't think they are asking too much. I've seen movies that just came out in the format being offered for under 20 dollars online... which is competitive with a lot of formats when they were this age, and a down right steal compared with how much VHS was at this point in its lifecycle.

So is that how spoiled we've become... that a product that in comparison with its brethren, no scratch that, in comparison with almost every other thing out there, hasn't really substantially increased in price over a long period of time is yet, still somehow overpriced? How does that work again?

Note: I am certainly not adverse to lower prices... I am just saying people need a little perspective when looking at this whole issue.


Kristyn said...

Honestly, I don't think they're too high at all. I think Blu-Ray are a it much, but then it's brand new technology. I mean, you can get a heck of a lot of good DVD's for $5-10 at Wal-Mart. Those aren't new releases, but at Halloween I got 5 horror movies for $25 at Wal-Mart. They were everything from classics to fairly recent horror. I think it's pretty reasonable.

Same for video games. If people don't want to pay the $60 to buy them new, there're always used games which usually play just find for half the cost. Ditto to movies, for that matter.

Lee Sargent said...

My only complaint about the price of games is that with the online content that's not where it ends. There are a lot of games now that offer extra content for a price and in some cases it makes the online gameplay near impossible if you don't.

I take issue only because $110 is you know $110! But apart from that I'll often wait until a game is cheaper anyway.

I do also take issue with films being released on DVD and being charged premium pricing for a really old movie. You can't tell me that they haven't recouped their costs on Casablanca!

MC said...

Kristyn: Re: Used Games... I might be able to recommend a site to you.

Lee: Yeah, DLC is another matter entirely. There are things in that realm which clearly should have been part of the commercial release but were removed to sell to gamers later, which is something which I will not debate the merits of.

thom said...

I'm surprised people complain about DVD prices. They've been pretty reasonable for awhile now plus they come down rather rapidly for movies that have been out for a bit.

Games, on the other hand, really do bug me. The $50 price tag is a little high, but it wouldn't be a problem if prices dropped reasonably. Used games are typically sold at about a $5 discount at the stores I've gone to, which is ridiculous. On top of that, the new prices stay the same for most games even a year or more after they've been released.

MC said...

I've been in store and heard people complain about blu-ray prices.

And regarding used game prices... unfortunately, that is the model that those shops are adopting. I don't like it myself, and I was fortunate that I've shopped in places that had significantly lower used game prices than that.

Arjan said...

I think we should just get rid of any dollar...I mean..MC's talking about Canadian dollars, Lee about Australian dollars and the first dollar-conversion rate that pops in my head is that of the US dollar.

Anyways I almost never buy brand new because I can wait a year *with uncle larry on speeddial..erm..broadband I'll still have the media available* for the prices to drop a bit.
If I réally want it now, I'll pay some more.