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'Games are too expensive - so how can we blame people for buying pre-owned?'

Insight: Cheaper, shorter FPS games are the future, argues Saber CEO...

The sheer expense of video games is getting out of hand for both consumers and developers - which is stifling creativity, scaring off consumers and encouraging the sales of pre-owned games.

That's the opinion of Matthew Karch, CEO of Saber Interactive - creator of TimeShift, upcoming gravity shooter Inversion, and if you believe the rumours, a much-speculated Halo project.

One of Saber's most interesting titles is pint-sized XBLA, PSN and PC first-person shooter Battle: Los Angeles, which is based on the movie of the same name.

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Karch argues that shooters like Battle: LA, which costs consumers significantly less than its $60 genre peers and can be easily finished by the average gamer, are the future of our industry.

This model could also be the way forward for licensed movie games, he argues, providing a safer bet for both developers - who stand to lose a lot less if the movie flops - and gamers, who can get a quick, cheap fix after the cinema, rather than an expensive disappointment.

Writing for CVG, Mathew shares his opinions on the price and length of games below, plus the future of first-person shooters...

I absolutely feel that cheaper, digital games have to be the future. $60 is a lot to pay for a game, and while there is definitely a market for games in that price range, for many people that's an immediate barrier to entry.

I mean, you pay a few hundred dollars for a console (or more for a good PC) then $60 for a game - how many games can you afford in that price range?

People in our industry are in a panic about used games, but honestly, can you blame people for playing a game and then trying to get some value back out of it? The only way for many gamers to currently play multiple AAA games is to shell out quite a bit of money and that definitely limits our consumer base.

If you want to reach an audience that is not accustomed to spending or can't spend that kind of money, then you need to give them an alternative. I think this also applies to our core audience. Smaller, high quality digital downloads are a great way to do that.

It not only provides people with games that they might actually finish, but it also enables them to play a variety of titles.

Currently most of the games on XBLA and PSN are smaller arcade-style downloads and a lot of them are great for what they are, but I think that is going to change. There is going to be a move towards higher-end games that are smaller. There has to be, because even among the "hardcore" audience, only a small percentage of games are profitable, so making smaller games with lower budgets makes good sense.


I think the price tag alienates gamers. People complain about $5 spent when they don't like a download? How do you think they feel about blowing $60? That definitely limits our audience.

The $60 price tag is holding games back, in more respects than one. The primary problem with the price tag is that it limits the market. Because the market is limited, publishers need to make sure they hit as many in their audience as possible with a game. This means that less risks are taken and games end up being much more "cookie cutter" and innovation is stifled.

I mean, if a game costs $25 million to make, $15 million to manufacture, and $10 million to market, you need to sell quite a significant number of games to break even, so the result is that publishers stick to tried and true formulas (meaning sequels and games within a known genre) and you end up with games that don't really innovate.

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