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Author Topic: Riccitiello: Console games need more variable pricing  (Read 369 times)
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CeeKay
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« on: October 27, 2013, 09:40:24 PM »

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New consoles are launching in under a month, and for the average consumer, buying new hardware in addition to several games at the price of $60 each is a significant outlay of cash. Game pricing has been a sensitive subject for some time now, and former EA boss John Riccitiello believes that the console/PC side of the business could learn a thing or two from the booming mobile space.

"Another thing that console and PC guys could and should learn is variable pricing," Riccitiello said at the recent Gaming Insiders Summit, as reported by the [a]list daily. "$60 is a giant FU to a very large number of people. There's not been a console game with even half as many installs as Clash of Clans. Puzzle & Dragons has got more installs than any console game in history. Getting a larger audience through variable pricing is a really useful thing."

The executive also noted that even with all its efforts of late, the traditional games industry still hasn't been able to get "games as service" right. The recent GTA Online hiccup serves as the newest example.

"More than anything, what the traditional game industry should learn from mobile is it's really about service," Riccitiello said. "It's an ongoing business. You'd think we would have learned this some time ago, but I find it interesting that WoW and Sim City and GTA and Starcraft and many other games all fell over at launch when they put their service components together. Some of the biggest brands - I'd argue almost all the biggest brands - fell over from lack of the testing and research that mobile people do in the regular course of their day."

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-10-22-console-games-need-more-variable-pricing-says-riccitiello

well, since he is the former EA boss I guess this might be proof that EA's evil can wear off after being away for six or so months.
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2013, 11:44:04 PM »

Quote from: CeeKay on October 27, 2013, 09:40:24 PM

"Another thing that console and PC guys could and should learn is variable pricing," Riccitiello said at the recent Gaming Insiders Summit, as reported by the [a]list daily. "$60 is a giant FU to a very large number of people. There's not been a console game with even half as many installs as Clash of Clans. Puzzle & Dragons has got more installs than any console game in history. Getting a larger audience through variable pricing is a really useful thing."

I agree that console games could use more variable pricing, as only rarely are games priced anything other than $15 for download titles and $60 for disc-based games.  When a game is released for $40 or $50, people often assume that's it's lower quality or that there's something wrong with it.  However, the free-to-play model is the last thing console gaming needs.  It's already infected the mobile gaming space, and I'll gladly keep paying $60 a game to keep the plague from spreading.
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2013, 01:52:02 PM »

Quote from: EddieA on October 27, 2013, 11:44:04 PM

Quote from: CeeKay on October 27, 2013, 09:40:24 PM

"Another thing that console and PC guys could and should learn is variable pricing," Riccitiello said at the recent Gaming Insiders Summit, as reported by the [a]list daily. "$60 is a giant FU to a very large number of people. There's not been a console game with even half as many installs as Clash of Clans. Puzzle & Dragons has got more installs than any console game in history. Getting a larger audience through variable pricing is a really useful thing."

I agree that console games could use more variable pricing, as only rarely are games priced anything other than $15 for download titles and $60 for disc-based games.  When a game is released for $40 or $50, people often assume that's it's lower quality or that there's something wrong with it.  However, the free-to-play model is the last thing console gaming needs.  It's already infected the mobile gaming space, and I'll gladly keep paying $60 a game to keep the plague from spreading.

Yeah, I'm on the same fence about this one.

Free to play should not happen.

That said, the console market really needs to look at Steam and iOS (just not FtP) pricing strategies to see how effective and profitable those can be.
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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2013, 02:48:14 PM »

Does he mean variable pricing like some games cost $20 some $30, etc. or variable like "all EA games 50% off for two days" type variable?  I am not sure after reading it because the games he mentions have had sales.

I would think the second option is about impossible until all digital downloads.  There is no way Walmart will reprice all of a game for a few days then mark it back up. 

Of course if it is the first option that is already done.  I can go to Walmart and find PS3 games from $10 to $60.  It is just that the $10 games are pretty crappy.


When I really think about it I think the whole console model doesn't work well.  It requires a huge outlay of cash for the device and then games. While my phone did require a big outlay of cash it does a lot more.  It has a value besides gaming.  Heck that value is probably more than its value as a gaming machine.  My PS3 not so much. 

Anyway I don't think it is the price of games which is stopping me from buying a certain console. 
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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2013, 04:00:47 PM »

It think once again Riccitiello has proven he really doesn't get the game industry. Comparing console games to mobile device games is in many ways like comparing apples to oranges. You don't have huge studios working with bleeding edge 3D tech for mobile games like you do for the console titles. He's right about the network/server issues, but I think it's going to be a while before publishers will invest in the necessary server and support infrastructure that's really required for smooth launches.

As to variable pricing, IMO it's already here with Steam - can't believe the quality of some of some of the games in the $15-40 range I've bought from that service.   thumbsup
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2013, 04:03:46 PM »

cant wait for the $100 COD Black Ops 5
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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2013, 04:08:09 PM »

The consoles already have variable pricing, they're just in the PSN and XBL stores instead of on retail shelves. 
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2013, 04:28:15 PM »

Quote from: kronovan on October 28, 2013, 04:00:47 PM

It think once again Riccitiello has proven he really doesn't get the game industry. Comparing console games to mobile device games is in many ways like comparing apples to oranges. You don't have huge studios working with bleeding edge 3D tech for mobile games like you do for the console titles.

The consoles also have a dramatically smaller user base. The current state of the industry simply doesn't support AAA-titles below $50 or so in price for launch.
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2013, 04:57:52 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 04:08:09 PM

The consoles already have variable pricing, they're just in the PSN and XBL stores instead of on retail shelves. 

But the discounts aren't really there.  PS+ gets some okay deals, but MS rarely discounts newer games.

Quote from: farley2k on October 28, 2013, 02:48:14 PM

Does he mean variable pricing like some games cost $20 some $30, etc. or variable like "all EA games 50% off for two days" type variable?  I am not sure after reading it because the games he mentions have had sales.

I would think the second option is about impossible until all digital downloads.  There is no way Walmart will reprice all of a game for a few days then mark it back up. 

Of course if it is the first option that is already done.  I can go to Walmart and find PS3 games from $10 to $60.  It is just that the $10 games are pretty crappy.


When I really think about it I think the whole console model doesn't work well.  It requires a huge outlay of cash for the device and then games. While my phone did require a big outlay of cash it does a lot more.  It has a value besides gaming.  Heck that value is probably more than its value as a gaming machine.  My PS3 not so much. 

Anyway I don't think it is the price of games which is stopping me from buying a certain console. 


I guess I was assuming digital.
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2013, 05:13:36 PM »

Quote from: Bullwinkle on October 28, 2013, 04:57:52 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 04:08:09 PM

The consoles already have variable pricing, they're just in the PSN and XBL stores instead of on retail shelves. 

But the discounts aren't really there.  PS+ gets some okay deals, but MS rarely discounts newer games.

I guess I'm mainly thinking about how I just recently bought Unfinished Swan, Journey, and Tale of Two Sons for not a lot of money.  The first two were on sale, but even Two Sons at release was what, 1200 MSbucks?  $15 is a lot less than $60.
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2013, 08:14:48 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 05:13:36 PM

Quote from: Bullwinkle on October 28, 2013, 04:57:52 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 04:08:09 PM

The consoles already have variable pricing, they're just in the PSN and XBL stores instead of on retail shelves. 

But the discounts aren't really there.  PS+ gets some okay deals, but MS rarely discounts newer games.

I guess I'm mainly thinking about how I just recently bought Unfinished Swan, Journey, and Tale of Two Sons for not a lot of money.  The first two were on sale, but even Two Sons at release was what, 1200 MSbucks?  $15 is a lot less than $60.

But for an "arcade" title, that's the going rate.  They're almost all $15 now.  At the start, the prices ranged a bit more ($10, $15, $20, some even $5 IIRC), but they've settled into that $15 price point.
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« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2013, 08:26:52 PM »

Quote from: Bullwinkle on October 28, 2013, 08:14:48 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 05:13:36 PM

Quote from: Bullwinkle on October 28, 2013, 04:57:52 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 04:08:09 PM

The consoles already have variable pricing, they're just in the PSN and XBL stores instead of on retail shelves. 

But the discounts aren't really there.  PS+ gets some okay deals, but MS rarely discounts newer games.

I guess I'm mainly thinking about how I just recently bought Unfinished Swan, Journey, and Tale of Two Sons for not a lot of money.  The first two were on sale, but even Two Sons at release was what, 1200 MSbucks?  $15 is a lot less than $60.

But for an "arcade" title, that's the going rate.  They're almost all $15 now.  At the start, the prices ranged a bit more ($10, $15, $20, some even $5 IIRC), but they've settled into that $15 price point.

It seems kinda arbitrary to me whether or not something gets labelled as an arcade title.  There are shitty $60 games that really shouldn't have been sold for more than $20, and there are awesome $10-15 arcade titles that probably could have sold well at $40, if not a full $60.
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« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2013, 08:32:21 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 08:26:52 PM

It seems kinda arbitrary to me whether or not something gets labelled as an arcade title.  There are shitty $60 games that really shouldn't have been sold for more than $20, and there are awesome $10-15 arcade titles that probably could have sold well at $40, if not a full $60.

This brings us to a discussion I seem to recall having with someone around here very recently. The game's quality isn't really important here (except for how quickly prices drop after launch), but the costs involved in developing it. An AAA title will always have to cost much more money for the consumer than a title developed by a small team. Keep in mind that AAA has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with the development/publishing costs. As far as I'm aware there hasn't been a single AAA Xbox Live Arcade title. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Edit: Just to provide a quick example among those already mentioned above. Journey both looks and sounds glorious, and it has been showered with awards and accolades. It's still not an AAA title since it was developed by a relatively small team with a relatively small budget.
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Re:
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2013, 09:29:06 PM »

Journey was alright. I found Flower to be better.
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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2013, 09:30:34 PM »

Quote from: Purge on October 28, 2013, 09:29:06 PM

Journey was alright. I found Flower to be better.

This is kind of a digression, but I agree completely. Tongue
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« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2013, 11:09:38 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 08:26:52 PM

Quote from: Bullwinkle on October 28, 2013, 08:14:48 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 05:13:36 PM

Quote from: Bullwinkle on October 28, 2013, 04:57:52 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 04:08:09 PM

The consoles already have variable pricing, they're just in the PSN and XBL stores instead of on retail shelves. 

But the discounts aren't really there.  PS+ gets some okay deals, but MS rarely discounts newer games.

I guess I'm mainly thinking about how I just recently bought Unfinished Swan, Journey, and Tale of Two Sons for not a lot of money.  The first two were on sale, but even Two Sons at release was what, 1200 MSbucks?  $15 is a lot less than $60.

But for an "arcade" title, that's the going rate.  They're almost all $15 now.  At the start, the prices ranged a bit more ($10, $15, $20, some even $5 IIRC), but they've settled into that $15 price point.

It seems kinda arbitrary to me whether or not something gets labelled as an arcade title.  There are shitty $60 games that really shouldn't have been sold for more than $20, and there are awesome $10-15 arcade titles that probably could have sold well at $40, if not a full $60.

plus some of the $60 games that were decent but not quite AAA may have sold more during the initial release period had they been $40.
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« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2013, 12:46:05 AM »

Quote from: CeeKay on October 28, 2013, 11:09:38 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 08:26:52 PM

Quote from: Bullwinkle on October 28, 2013, 08:14:48 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 05:13:36 PM

Quote from: Bullwinkle on October 28, 2013, 04:57:52 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on October 28, 2013, 04:08:09 PM

The consoles already have variable pricing, they're just in the PSN and XBL stores instead of on retail shelves. 

But the discounts aren't really there.  PS+ gets some okay deals, but MS rarely discounts newer games.

I guess I'm mainly thinking about how I just recently bought Unfinished Swan, Journey, and Tale of Two Sons for not a lot of money.  The first two were on sale, but even Two Sons at release was what, 1200 MSbucks?  $15 is a lot less than $60.

But for an "arcade" title, that's the going rate.  They're almost all $15 now.  At the start, the prices ranged a bit more ($10, $15, $20, some even $5 IIRC), but they've settled into that $15 price point.

It seems kinda arbitrary to me whether or not something gets labelled as an arcade title.  There are shitty $60 games that really shouldn't have been sold for more than $20, and there are awesome $10-15 arcade titles that probably could have sold well at $40, if not a full $60.

plus some of the $60 games that were decent but not quite AAA may have sold more during the initial release period had they been $40.

This.
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« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2013, 06:04:52 AM »

Quote from: CeeKay on October 28, 2013, 11:09:38 PM

plus some of the $60 games that were decent but not quite AAA may have sold more during the initial release period had they been $40.

Very much true, I suppose. Do you have any specific examples of such games btw?
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« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2013, 06:20:25 AM »

that statement was more just a passing thought really, but would something like Mirror's Edge have sold more units right away if it had not been in the $60 range?  it got great reviews, but sales were lacking.  Would a $40 price tag gotten more people to try it out before it was out of the reviewers spotlight?
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« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2013, 12:47:37 PM »

Mirror's Edge is a good example.  Klonoa 2 really jumps out to me as well, though it's an older title.  Maybe Psychonauts?
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« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2013, 12:51:39 PM »

Quote from: CeeKay on October 28, 2013, 11:09:38 PM


plus some of the $60 games that were decent but not quite AAA may have sold more during the initial release period had they been $40.

I'd argue that that already happens, especially around this time of year.  Amazon and other retailers will drop prices pretty quickly on new games that aren't selling particularly well.  Whether that's a more successful strategy than coming out the gate at $50 or $40, I dunno.
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« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2013, 03:43:58 PM »

The review of Van Helsing I wrote a while ago takes the lower cost into account. In a very real way perceived value depends on price point.

I can see issues arising with the idea that a game gets pigeonholed into being a "budget" title, but honestly it would be nice if all games weren't 60bux.
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« Reply #22 on: October 29, 2013, 06:28:48 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on October 29, 2013, 12:47:37 PM

Mirror's Edge is a good example.  Klonoa 2 really jumps out to me as well, though it's an older title.  Maybe Psychonauts?

Psychonauts may have also had better reception.
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