Video games are, unfortunately, a luxury item, with the exception of independent titles that are usually more accessible. Think about it: very few people in Brazil are able to afford R $ 250, the standard price for a large game close to the launch. The reality, however, should not improve: on the contrary, the trend is that we have a “new normal” for even more expensive games.
There are already some indications of this. “Fifa 21”, the new version of the most popular soccer game in the world, already listed in the virtual stores of PlayStation, Xbox and PC with the price of R $ 300. From the United States now comes the news that the game “NBA 2k21 ”To have its simplest version for the new generation of consoles costing US $ 70, instead of the traditional US $ 60, which for years was the price cap of games in the country.
Next, understand the two main points that indicate that game prices will change.
Dollar does not help
That internal factor. The whole world is going through a very serious and unprecedented economic crisis, and one of the reflexes of that in Brazil was the dollar’s surge to an unspecified level. The face value of the American currency never exceeded R $ 5 in 2020.
Obviously, this is reflected in the national video game market, when the overwhelming majority of titles are produced internationally by companies with the multinational, which is not a charity. They expect a return for the games, and the more expensive the dollar, the less the reais paid by the consumer at the time of purchase are worth. With the American currency worth R $ 4, R $ 250 is worth US $ 62.50. With the dollar at R $ 5, the same amount is worth US $ 50.
The public’s common argument often points out that companies should adjust the price to the Brazilian reality, since the average Brazilian’s income is far from the same as that of an American. The idea makes some sense, since lower prices can generate more sales and make up for the reduced profit margin with volume.
However, the world is not that simple. If companies practiced prices below the dollar conversion in Brazil, soon players from all over the world would start to buy games here. Have you moved your console region to the United States to try to buy a cheaper title? There are Coin sites dedicated to finding other regions where a particular game is more accessible. This would happen in the opposite direction.
The result would be a drop in revenue, because more robust and mature markets, where players are financially able to pay a full price for games and drive more sales than Brazil, such as the United States and Europe, would start paying less for their games. . After all, why buy a game in the US for $ 60 if the
Account that does not close
Here the external factor. The capitalist system predicts inflation, which is a natural economic effect. Prices increase over time, and this is a sign of a healthy economy, as long as the adjustments do not get out of control; the contrary, deflation, a sign of an economy that has stagnated.
Interestingly, video games ignored the inflationary process for more than a decade. In the United States, since the generation of Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii, which started in 2005, the standard price of a video game has turned over $ 60. Few exceptions have dared to go beyond the value.
However, in those 15 years, inflation has eaten about 31% of the dollar’s value. If prices were regularly readjusted, they would already cost more than the $ 70 proposed with the “NBA 2k”. Based on the Consumer Index Price, an index created by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, which allows inflation to be monitored, today the price of a game should be $ 78.77.
The issue goes beyond inflation, too. The graphic advances seen in recent generational jumps have not been cheap. The more detailed the look of a game, the more complex its design, the more people are needed to produce it, making production more expensive. So it is not difficult to see that the more time passes, the more evident is the observation that mathematics does not close. Companies were getting proportionately less and less for selling their games when considering inflation, and spending more and more to get them off the ground. This also generates enormous stress in the production teams, with the months prior to the release, known as “crunch”, becoming increasingly heavy and exhausting, since the limited production budgets mean that you do not have all the hands of work required for this heavier stage of game development. There are not uncommon cases of people sleeping at work, skipping meals and leaving the industry as a whole as a result of exhausting journeys.
This scenario has become harmful to video games. First, companies began to create unrealistic sales targets to try to offset the high costs of production. To reach a larger audience, a good part of the games started to appeal to mechanics that could please as many people as possible. Intermediate level games basically, which were once so common and appealed to niches, became more rare in favor of gigantic franchises, which have more fans and end up justifying the higher investment.
To make matters worse, the price freeze has also forced companies to look for other methods of monetizing games. “Death Stranding” is a notable example of a game that has very obvious advertisements within the game. Countless titles appeal to microtransaction mechanics, loot-boxes and other mechanisms that offer advantages within the game for those who take even more money out of their pockets. And, of course, DLCs, which are nothing more than cutting content that could be in the game to sell it to the player for an additional fee.
Any advantage for the consumer?
All of this points to one path. Both the internal factors, with the bad moment of the Brazilian economy, and the external factors, with the increase in the difficulties of producing games for an increasingly demanding public, indicate that, yes, the games will become more expensive.
It remains to be seen whether this increase can at least eliminate some of the hostile consumer practices adopted by the industry. Billing more with each sale, can companies abandon loot boxes? Leave the microtransactions there? Yes, it is possible, but there is no guarantee, unfortunately.
An example of a similar situation was seen in Brazil, with the issue of air tickets and luggage; the promise was that the tickets could be cheaper if the companies charged only part of those who need to check bags, but what was seen was only that the companies kept their prices equal and started to charge additional for the luggage. Translating this into the video game market, the producers could even abandon additional charging practices, but why do they just increase their profitability, without necessarily offering the player a counterpart?