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.