Debate Club: Maybe Emulation Should Affect Price.

Sometimes Chris and I talk about our topic choices for Debate Club ahead of time, sometimes not.  This week was a not week.  As such, it’s impossible for him to know that, to some degree, I really do agree with his point.  People stealing products is a really heinous way to cause price drops.  In fact, can you imagine how jacked up our world as a whole would be if that practice was acceptable?  Everyone would just go around stealing cars until it was so easy to get one that they’d sell you one for $100.  That’s not fair to the car manufacturers and it’s not fair to game developers either.  The movie industry seems to have actually gone in the other direction, continually raising the prices for movie tickets and concessions to make up for the pirating.  Again, why should games have to drop their price just to compete with thieves?

One reason games should drop in price is that a lot of the games we’re talking about here are legitimately overpriced.  Chris specifically mentions Game Boy Advance games, and in that case I simply don’t feel like there is any GBA game worth more than $2.00.  It’s not because I can pirate them either, it’s because it’s 2014.  If I missed some GBA game from back in the day, so what.  There are platforms with deep libraries of newer, more relevant games that I could be spending my money on.  Anything that’s ”piratable” is going to be relatively old, you’re not going to find ROMs of games like The Last of Us after all.

If Nintendo wants to sell old GBA games, fine.  But unless they’re remastered or HD or whatever you’d call it for games like that, then I don’t believe their worth very much.  The same holds true for Square Enix rereleasing old Final Fantasy titles on iOS.  It’s cool that they’re doing it I guess, but I don’t believe that Final Fantasy Tactics is worth $14 anymore.  Again, there are newer more relevant games in the genre that I could be playing for about the same amount.

I believe that companies should drop the prices for their old games, but not because of emulation.  To be honest, I don’t think all that many people really get into emulation anyway.  Not to the degree that it’s affecting Nintendo or Square Enix in any meaningful way.  To me, the root problem is actually more with the devs and publishers than it is with the pirates.  The prices on some of these rereleases just feel like gouging.

One last point.  Nintendo sells old games on the eShop, and that’s fine.  Let’s assume it sells Super Mario Bros. 3 for $5.00 (that number could be wrong, I don’t have the data in front of me, but same case could be made for many games).  To me, that’s a huge rip off.  Almost every kid from my generation owned that game; our parents plunked down the $50 for it.  Technically, that means that downloading the ROM off of an emulation site isn’t even pirating.  So why then would I want to pay another $5.00 for a game I’ve already played and beaten.  A game that everyone has played and beaten.  To me, properly pricing old games looks like this:  Really popular old games are super cheap (roughly $0.99).  Older gamers like me can enjoy an old favorite for a cheap price, and younger gamers can get hooked into a series growing the audience for upcoming releases.  Rare and unpopular games should have prices fluctuating based on rarity.  If a game was really hard to get, then fine, charge me $5.00 since I probably haven’t played it.  But if a game was a staple in every kid’s living room, stop overcharging for it.


3 thoughts on “Debate Club: Maybe Emulation Should Affect Price.

  1. Also, Steve’s assertion that a game’s worth should automatically depreciate over time bothers me just as it bothered Cory. Especially when so much of the indie/download-only games scene these days is built around games specifically styled after 8 and 16 bit titles. I don’t see how a brand new game that is made to look, sound and play exactly like a SNES game gets to be “worth” $15-$20 just because its new, while an actual SNES game should just be a buck by default because it’s an old game.


  2. Absolutely, with the abysmal job the game industry has done at archiving its own history – you’re hard pressed to even nail down concrete release dates for games that came out before the late 90’s – if it wasn’t for emulation and ROM dumping, so much of gaming’s history would’ve been completely lost. You hear stories like Panzer Dragoon Saga’s original source code being mostly lost, or that the source codes for classic Atari games were literally thrown in the trash when the company was sold off, and it makes you so angry, especially for a medium that isn’t even 50 years old yet and you compare it to how well archived movies and TV shows have been despite being around double that amount of time and required far more time and investment to archive.

    I would never call emulation a bad thing across the board, and to say I’ve never been guilty of it in some fashion would be a lie. But when people continue to pirate games that are readily available on current hardware and the game makers WILL see money from – another pirate excuse, that game makers don’t see a profit from buying old games off of ebay anyway so why does it matter – is where I have a problem, and where I think gamers have gotten so spoiled that classic games (that once cost anywhere between $30 and up to $100+) are “too expensive” if they have the nerve to cost a few bucks. People actually complain that Earthbound costs a few dollars more than other SNES games. Never mind that it comes with a digital version of the ORIGINAL Player’s Guide, but it was fetching triple digits online for years. These people obviously haven’t seen what Squaresoft charges for Final Fantasy games on cell phones…


  3. I totally disagree. When you say that no Game Boy Advance game is worth 2 bucks, you’re pretty much saying those games have no value. A legitimately good game fifteen years ago is just as good today. Old games are interesting, old games are valuable, and there are lots of things to learn from them for both gamers and developers.

    I get what you’re saying when you say there’s always new stuff to play, and if you want to stay on the cutting edge of gaming that’s a valid choice to make. But could you imagine how a movie fan and critic would be looked upon if they said The Godfather wasn’t worth watching because it’s old? Or that The Beatles aren’t worth paying ten dollars for because, hey, Taylor Swift is releasing stuff in 2014 so why go back and listen?

    Age doesn’t dictate quality or cultural or critical value. Old games are still relevant.

    I have issues with how Nintendo prices games on the Virtual Console. I don’t think Ice Climbers should cost the same amount as Super Mario Bros. 3, but that’s a value statement and not a statement about the inherent worth of the games involved.

    I also believe that emulation is valuable as an archival system or as part of the critical process of looking at old games. After all, I wouldn’t be able to do SNES A Day without being able to emulate the Super Nintendo and its games. But I also buy a lot of old games, and I do so gladly. But downloading a game from a ROM site, as you mentioned in your post with Super Mario Bros. 3, is piracy. I have no particular moral qualms about it, but the rights holder has made that game available to purchase easily.

    Liked by 1 person

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