What Gamers Don’t Understand about DLC and the Freemium Model

Gamers don’t get business, or more specifically, they don’t understand the crossroads of art and business. I know that’s an unfair generalization and obviously there are gamers out there that understand these things, but some of the more vocal communities of gamers on the internet rail against all forms of launch-day DLC, freemium games, and the casual market at large. But why is that?

I guess you have to take into account the average age of someone actively involved in an online gaming forum or community, that is, late high school to college grad. Someone who likely is just started to grasp the concept and value of money, but hasn’t really seen past their own piggy bank just yet.

The truth is, games are underpriced. Especially AAA-quality games with large budgets. Super Street Fighter II for the Super Nintendo had a $74.99 MSRP that Toys R Us sold for $69.99. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 sold for $69.99 (with Mortal Kombat 3 still being sold for $59.99) in 1994 and 1995, respectively. Sonic the Hedgehog was sold for $49.99 in 1992. Today, we see a flat price of $59.99 for current gen titles, and it looks like the next gen will keep that price.

These games, adjusted for inflation, should be $82-$121 today.

So meanwhile, in 2012, you get a AAA-quality game like Mass Effect 3, that is $59.99 with a $10 DLC available at launch. Making the ‘full game’ $69.99. This is a game that is thousands of times more complex than the 90’s generation of games but selling at 42.77 1992 Dollars. You couldn’t purchase Sonic the Hedgehog, which was bundled with most Genesis systems, for that much. So are we entitled? Are gamers spoiled? Yes. They are.

It’s hard to say it because I absolutely hate the ‘entitled gamer’ label, but just by virtue of pure inflation, Mass Effect 1, 2, and 3 were easily games worth over $100.

Let’s just hope publishers don’t see this blog post.