Raph Koster on the cost of making games from the industry side

All of this talk about the price of making games and the price of playing games thanks to Star Wars: Battlefront II has meant getting a pretty decent peek behind the curtain. Case in point: a lengthy discussion and explanation by Raph Koster about how expensive games really are. While Koster outright says that it’s wrong to say games are “too expensive to make,” he also points out that it’s undeniable that costs on making a game have risen hugely while box price has proportionally fallen. And as he points out, that’s because there’s no real market for second best.

The key thing to understand is that the public doesn’t buy B games. A game with stellar gameplay and less than state of the art graphics is generally simply left on the shelf. Yes, indie games with distinctive art have managed to break through so everyone will cite counterexamples, but looked at statistically, it’s something like 99.9% don’t.

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Oculus Rift price drops to $400

How cheap does a VR headset and motion controller have to be before you’ll consider purchasing it? Facebook is hoping the answer to that question is right around $400, it seems, as the company is dropping the price of the Oculus Rift and its associated motion controller to $400 for the moment. That makes this the cheapest VR headset on the market, at least for as long as the price cut lasts.

The price drop in question is officially just a temporary drop to see how the headset performs, but it may well become permanent if this is what finally motivates people to buy headsets in large numbers. The Oculus Rift previously cut prices back in March, so this is a rather quick turnaround on further drops; feel free to add your own doom-and-gloom explanation in the comments, if you like. Let’s not forget that Oculus lost a founder and has been embroiled in legal troubles for most of the year.

Source: Fortune


Black Desert ups the in-game prices on cash shop items in the auction market

Players are making more in-game money in Black Desert than they were a year ago. Part of that is just, you know, a year to refine processes; the other part is that new mechanics have been added making it easier to make money. As a result, the supply and demand for cash shop items has gotten a little bit skewed compared to where it started. The developers are addressing this imbalance by increasing the silver prices on cash shop items by 50% across the board.

The change won’t be rolled out until July 19th, so you’ve got a little time to plan any upcoming purchase that might otherwise be affected. Of course, this announcement is in the form of a forum post, so you can see player responses unfolding in real time, and to the surprise of probably no one they’re overwhelmingly negative and filled with accusations about pay-to-win. We leave that determination up to time and our readers.


Dean Hall calls the pre-launch price hike for ARK: Survival Evolved ‘outrageous’

Whether you love or loathe the early access survival sandbox genre, you’ve got Dean Hall’s DayZ to thank for it, although he’s had far less luck with recent titles. Still, history affords him a bit of extra credibility when he talks about the nascent genre, and he took to the online spaces to decry the recent price hike for ARK: Survival Evolved ahead of the game’s launch. The price increase was cited specifically as being “****ing outrageous” and he claimed that the only possible motive for increasing the price was greed.

Hall went on a further tear stating that the game is nowhere near ready for a release and that the obligation of the developers is to remain in early access until the game reaches a higher standard of quality, which Twitter followers have pointed out is something Hall himself did not do with DayZ. We leave it as an exercise to the reader to decide whether Hall is raising legitimate complaints or kvetching about nothing.

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Oculus drops the price of its VR headset to $499

Do you know people who would love to hook themselves up with VR headsets but balk a bit at the price? Oculus is making it a little cheaper to get in with its latest price drop. The Oculus Rift headset is dropping to $499 and the Touch controllers are going down to $99, placing a bundle of both at $598 and saving you $200 over the launch price. The official statement from the company is that the lowered price is still “sustainable” for the company, implying that the hardware is not being sold at a loss at this point.

Whether or not the lowered price will lead to more sales is likely to remain an open question for some time, but that’s clearly the intent. There are no announcements about a new generation of VR hardware, so it’s clear that the company is doubling down on having cheaper hardware to bring in more users. If the $200 drop makes it just rich enough for your blood, then you’ve got some purchase planning to do.

Source: Polygon


Paladins is simplifying its founder’s packs on January 12th

Are you confused by the Paladins Founder’s Packs for sale right now? “No,” you answer, “they’re quite straightforward; you’ve got the entry-level tier available, then the middle tier, and the most expensive one with the largest amount of gewgaws. It’s quite simple.” However, in this hypothetical scenario you never get to finish that explanation, because midway through your “no” the person who asked you cuts you off by revealing that the people at Hi-Rez Studios are simplifying the packs down to just one option instead of three confusing options.

At this point, you would likely begin protesting that “three tiers” isn’t confusing, but you’ve also probably sussed out that your participation in this conversation is optional.

The new Founder’s Pack will have a $19.99 price tag and is within spitting distance of the current $20 Founder’s Pack in terms of contents, so you can also look at this change as being more about removing the higher tiers. The other packs are still available until January 12th, however, with all three types on sale until January 9th (which would be today). So if you want to get more of the goodies available through a higher-tier pack, act now.

Source: Official Site; thanks to Jake for the tip!


Elite: Dangerous changes how Horizons is sold, discusses patch 2.1’s focus

Are you confused about the process of upgrading from Elite: Dangerous to the Horizons expansion? Do you find it frustrating and unclear? Have you screamed “there’s got to be a better way” at the computer, informercial-style? The folks at Frontier Developers apparently think that’s the case, and thus have changed the retail setup significantly, with Horizons now serving as a season pass-style DLC purchase rather than an entirely separate entity. You’ll also get a gold Asp Explorer paint job if you already have the full version of the game.

Of course, if you already have the full version of the game, you’re probably far more interested in what’s going on with patch 2.1. A separate post addresses the changes coming with the patch while outlining the focus on making missions more meaningful. Players can look forward to a greater degree of interaction with the mission contacts for minor factions, with contacts that remember their dealings with players from the past as well as changing their reactions based on those past dealings. So you might not be able to buy into the game more easily, but you’re still getting a more positive experience.

Source: Pricing/retail changes, Development update; thanks to Cotic for the tip!


Entropia Universe sells invisible clothing for $5,000

Are you a fan of Entropia Universe? Then you can –

I’m sorry, I can’t do this. I don’t know how in the world to contextualize this. I can understand the idea that Entropia Universe wants to sell a thing to its biggest fans for money. That’s fine. I can even almost understand the fact that it costs $5,000 out of the gate. Sure, that’s insane and a half, but we’re also dealing with a game that allows for a 1:1 exchange of its in-game currency for real money, that makes a certain amount of sense.

But then there’s the fact that it’s invisible, and at that point I officially don’t understand. $5,000 for a piece of clothing that you will not be able to see because that is its main selling point. I cannot contextualize this. I am sorry, everyone. Let’s just make this a memetic thing; the Grand Magistrix has power over time, I’m setting the clock back.


Perpetuum posts premium packages to power up players with popular pricing

The developers behind Perpetuum want you to be able to get in and start playing the game on the cheap. Said developers also want to provide a way for players to spend additional money on the game without anyone feeling ripped off. Thus, the game’s new premium packages. Each of the two packs is priced at $10 and contains various benefits for any new or existing player, but each one can be purchased only once per account, turning them into shots in the arm for anyone who is playing the game or just wants to start out stronger.

At the same time, the base game has been dropped to a $10 price as well, and a new player can pick up the base game and both packs for $28. The hope is that this change in pricing will make the game more accessible to new players without alienating existing players or creating a sense of resentment. These packages are currently available only through Steam, but they should be available via the game’s site in the very near future.

Source: Official Site, Steam; thanks to Zoltan for the tip!


PSN users find level boosts for Destiny on the PSN store

Good news, Destiny players on the PlayStation with a desire to bypass a good chunk of leveling! You belong to a rather narrow subgroup, but you appear to be the first group able to purchase level boosts on the PSN store for a price. Players first noticed the level boosts on sale for £24.99 on the UK PSN, but have subsequently snapped shots of the items for sale in the US PSN for $44.99.  Which would seem a bit steep even if Bungie hadn’t previously said that the datamined level-boost items were not meant for microtransactions.

Friendly reminder: Bungie said exactly that.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, players are already up in arms over both the price and the sale of these level boosts, although thus far the noly reports are coming in from the UK PSN store. There’s no word yet on whether the items were meant to be sold or it was simply a fluke somewhere in the system; it does seem to contradict earlier statements, but a lot can change in two months.


RIFT is upping its subscription price slightly with its next patch

If you’re considering taking a break from RIFT and dropping your subscription for a month, you may not wish to do that. With the launch of patch 3.4, the game’s prices are going up a bit across the board, for everything from subscriptions to credits and REX. A preliminary price structure has been posted on the game’s official forums, with credits and REX receiving the biggest price hike. Monthly subscriptions remain unchanged, but multi-month subscriptions are becoming slightly more expensive (albeit cheaper than monthly subscription).

The good news is that if you’re already subscribed, your existing subscription price will be grandfathered in and will not increase, hence why you might not want to drop your subscription. The official reasoning is to standardize prices across all regions and make sure that all currencies provide the same value for the same exchange rate. So the game is getting a wee bit more expensive, although it’s hardly the sort of increase that will break the bank.


Bungie responds to Destiny’s ‘tone deaf’ DLC fiasco

Destiny has already launched some downloadable expansions for itself, and they’ve been cheaper than the upcoming The Taken King. In fact, they’ve been much cheaper than The Taken King‘s Collector’s Edition, which contains several bits of physical swag and some exclusive emotes, which has caused considerable uproar in the Destiny community, particularly veterans who feel they’re being asked to rebuy content they already own (sound familiar?). A recent Eurogamer interview with the developers focused around defending the price, which largely came down to saying that it’s a justified price for a very large amount of content.

Players didn’t like that either. Forbes called the entire interview “tone deaf.”

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WildStar is in the Humble E3 Bundle… for non-players

Getting WildStar for only a couple of dollars seems like a pretty solid deal, especially when that means an extra 30 days of game time. Sure, the game is going free-to-play, but it’s not there yet. But existing players who decided to jump on the Humble Bundle’s E3 ticket bundle just for that code got a bit of a surprise when the WildStar portion went from being a bonus code that could be applied to an existing account to being for new players only.

Images of a cached version of the promotion announcement state that the codes can be applied to existing accounts, while the current page states the opposite. It’s unclear whether this is a sudden switcheroo or a similar change was made on the Humble store, but after players have spent the past few months being encouraged to pick up more copies, it’s a bit of an unexpected shift.

Source: Humble Bundle, Humble Bundle Announcement, cached announcement; thanks to everyone who sent this in!


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