I feel that we get into very murky waters when we start equating monetary value with artistic value. The word “value” is a tricky one. The way it is meant when describing the value of a diamond is completely different than the way it is meant when describing the value of a fast food combo meal. What “value” are we hoping for when we buy a video game: HIGH value or GOOD value? And how do you work cost into that? High value games should cost the most, and then that value should start to skew more towards the good side as the price comes down? It’s just not that cut and dry.
How do you judge what is the better game between the big-budget, AAA $60 title and the $20 indie title? You don’t. This feels a bit like echoes of our debate on reviews, but all games just aren’t meant to be compared head-to-head. If a gamer is ever deciding between two games, it would usually be more along the lines of “Call of Duty or Battlefield?”, not “Call of Duty or Shovel Knight?” Steve also likes to evoke the Steam sale a lot in his debates, and I’m sorry, but I’m finally going to out him on this one. I know for a fact that Steve has a VAST library of Steam games that he has never touched, let alone never even actually downloaded. Where is the “value” in buying games you don’t even play? Sure, he got twelve $5 games rather than one $60 one. But let me ask him this: had he paid $60 for a single game, would be make sure to play it? Of course he would. Because he spent $60 on it. He put a good chunk of money into that game, and he’s going to want to get a GOOD VALUE out of it. Let’s be honest: It’s not all that unrealistic to imagine that there are $60 worth of Steam sale games he bought that he never or barely touches. Personal (but of course good-natured) attacks aside, I still feel what I’m saying is valid to this debate. There’s this feeling that it’s better to spread the wealth across a few smaller games than one expensive one, but for many of us, the less we pay for a game the less we feel obligated to play it. “It’s no big deal if I only play this a little bit, I only spent 5 bucks on it.” I hardly see the value in THAT.
As Steve said, it’s impossible to make game purchases based only on their perceived quality and not let their price play ANY part in the decision. There are $60 games that have no business being $60, and there are $5 games that you can play for years and years. But things like price should be removed from the “passion” part of the purchase, and kept strictly for the analytical side. The side that also decides if you can afford more than the minimum payment on your credit card this month or whether you should splurge on the non-generic peanut butter. Sure, movies and music don’t have the same problem because their costs are a lot more streamlined, but you shouldn’t take it out on a game – OR give a game more credit than it deserves – because of the industry’s politics. Your expectation, or lack thereof, for each and every game out there that you have yet to experience should be based on a lot of things – screenshots, trailers, demos, the developer, the publisher, what your friends think, and yes, even what the reviews say – but what it costs should NOT be one of them. Let your brain worry about that. If you’re a real gamer, like a true lover of ANYTHING you’re supposed to be doing it with your heart, and your heart is never supposed to be allowed to know what things cost. Because it doesn’t give a damn.