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Is the Tiered Pricing Model the Future of Video Games?

By (view all posts by GuyCopes)
at 8:57AM Thursday December 1, 2011
under Stuff We Like

We have discussed it many times here on the blog, but video game pricing structures are failing the consumer on a monthly basis. New games--particularly annual release titles--debut now with more bugs than a dilapidated tenement. $60, whether for a perfect title or one that essentially comes with broken gameplay, is a good bit of coin. To answer the question at the top: Yes, tiered pricing needs to be the future of video gaming.
Early adopters of many of the latest games (yes I am talking to you WWE '12  with broken Community Creations site, glitches galore and faulty WWE Universe AI!) have essentially become the new beta testers. The truly bad thing about that is that we now pay $60 a year to essentially help the next installment in the series play the way the current one should.

So what can be done?

Aside from the obvious solutions of better in-house game testing and less reliance on patches to fix issues, the industry could take a long hard look at changing the way it prices new titles. Aside from broken gameplay, another barrier to sale in recent years has been the high price point of new games. Many people will wait for used versions or for a title to become "old" by a few months to take advantage of discounts and price drops once the market has moved onto the next slate of games. The tiered approach has already been used for the release of big AAA titles. Unfortunately that pricing has been above the normal $60 range, not below. Special Collector Editions can range from $80 to $100 or more.

Some instances of the gaming industry "getting it" have occurred already. Sony has begun to talk about the possibility of offering tiered pricing for upcoming Vita games. Digital download versions of games have offered lower prices for a while now, giving consumers a discounted option over purchasing new releases in the traditional disc-based format.

With digital agreements and online access passes becoming the new norm, buying used is sometimes not even the best option as the discount earned from doing so can be wiped out once the $10 or $15 online pass is payed for.

My personal thoughts are that big budget, top tier franchises can still release at $60.00, however, newer, no pedigree releases should be at a lower price point--say around $40.00. Games targeted at younger kids (and really their parent's wallets) should retail at $30, no more. I truly believe that then you would see more people eager to get into video games instead of more being priced out as they are unable to afford to keep up with every new release.

What do you think about tier pricing as a solution to the increasing expensive world of video games?  Chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.

As always you can find me tweeting about all things video games via Twitter @SavingsGCapes.