Games Deal Frenzy Proves Games Are Too Costly

Dick Smith is planning what might prove to be the mother of all games sales, the latest in a series of bargain gaming sales by stores across Australia. All have been massively popular, and I think that clearly demonstrates one thing: no-one is very happy paying $100 or so for a game.

Games aren't a core Lifehacker concern, but they're a big deal at our sister publication Kotaku. And throughout this week there has been massive traffic to posts discussing el-cheapo games deals. First there was a 50 per cent off deal at Harvey Norman (though that did limit you to two titles). Then there was a 20 per cent off deal at JB Hi-Fi which runs through until Sunday. And finally, word leaked of what looks like an exit from the gaming market altogether by Dick Smith.

Everyone likes a bargain, and as the editor of a site where saving money is a key concern, I totally understand why people are keen on these deals. But even allowing for that, the frenzied level of interest seems a little unusual. And then I remind myself: a new release game can easily cost $100 or more.

Sure, a console game these days represents thousands of hours of development and can potentially offer you hours more of entertainment. But it's still a large chunk of money. It's more than a monthly broadband subscription for many of us, or the equivalent of a month's worth of food if you're especially cheap.

A game is a non-essential purchase. It's a luxury. And if you can score a luxury at a bargain price, it's very tempting. But if we're all hanging out waiting for the bargains and big retailers are concluding it will be better to dump selling games altogether, that suggests that there's something wrong with the model and things will need to change.

Arguably, in some ways things already have. Mobile phone games cost far less and can provide just as much entertainment (says the man who has wasted more time on Plants vs Zombies than on any other game in recent memory). The games industry is looking increasingly like screen entertainment: a series of blockbuster sequels to known titles at one end, and innovative independent work on a much smaller canvas.

If you're a keen gamer, then exploiting every one of these sales makes sense. But something, I suspect, is soon going to give.

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Comments

    Slightly wrong in the article. The Harvey Norman sale limited you to two copies of the SAME GAME. Check the post on ozbargain (http://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/66621) heaps of people got HEAPS of games.

    In regard to the DSE sale... I'm still skeptical. Having it on April 2nd... Could be a MASSIVE aprils fools day joke. Would be sad if it is but kinda epic at the same time...

      In that same discussion, you'll also see a lot of people who had their orders cancelled because they ordered more than two *different* games. HN are being very inconsistent with this rule.

    I think the fact I basically haven't bought a game in this country in years is a pretty good indicator of the shoddiness of our market. With competitive international digital distributors, export sites and key resellers buying in Australia just seems pointless. It's not like your missing out on any benefits game stores offer. That said it's the distributors who have done this, not the stores.

    I am an Aussie living in Hong Kong and cannot believe how much I used to pay for games. New releases here are generally around A$35-40 - that's for a genuine copy, not dodgy pirated stuff. On the flipside there's not much discounting of older games - year old titles tend to drop to A$25-30 but even really old titles don't get much below A$20. I am visitng Australia during DSE's sale but it still doesn't make much sense for me to go to it!

    I'd like to point out that in the US, a AAA title costs $60, whereas over here in Aus, they cost $100-$110.
    However, most of that additional profit is going to the distributors, and not the developers.

    If you buy a game from an import site, such as OzGameShop, for $50, sintead of from EB/JB for $100, the developers get the same benefit. So no guilt to be found there.

    Right....Time to get that can of mace ready!

    I rarely buy games in Australia any more. I used to get some by taking advantage of trade deals (buy cheap games, trade them in for an expensive game), but most stores now use an inclusion list rather than an exclusion list, so there's no cheap tradebait to be found any more. I'll occasionally buy a game or two when there's a really good deal, like the Harvey Norman and Dick Smith sales mentioned, but usually it's imports only. Why pay $80+ for a new game, when I can import it for less than $50 -- or even better, wait a few months, and import it for less than $20.

    I buy a few must haves right now games for full price. But for something I am just "quite" interested in I'll ship it in internationally.

    Games I have a vague interest in. I don't want to pay more than thirty five dollars for. And frankly it can take over a year for some second hand games to drop down to that price which is ridiculous.

    I just went to investigate Plants vs Zombies at the link provided. I can buy a PC version for $20.95 or the Android version for $2.99 Australian. I know it's slightly off topic but - why?

      You should install android on your pc as a virtual machine! how sick would that be for playing games like angry birds and zombie farm!

    Don't play games myself, but of the ones purchased for my son, Minecraft has had by far the most hours (and most hours per dollar).

    Who knows about being a n00b? Dick does!

    +1 to Gary. I bought Minecraft and continue to play it, almost 2 years on. Garry's Mod is also another great guy, as well as the GTA series. Anything that doesn't have a goal makes for hours of entertainment.

    But I would never buy another game from a retail store, unless it was ridiculously cheap. A lot of places wanted around $100 (varied from $70 to $100 between places) for Skate 1, even after it had been out for a few months. I wasn't having any of that, so I bought the game off eBay. $40 including shipping. Score!

    Why buy new when you can wait and buy second hand games?? I know you will not be up with the latest releases, given the prices tho, I'm prepared to wait!

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