the industry believes that people are prepared to pay the current
price (the fact that most software publishers are currently losing
fortunes because not enough people ARE prepared to buy their games
is something they tend to quietly ignore). If we make it absolutely
clear that we're NOT prepared to pay that price, the price will
fall. That's the fundamental law of all business - what games
cost is something that rests entirely in the hands of us, the
complicated equation, unsurprisingly. But most of the slices of
the cake are arrived at in percentage terms. Retailers pay a wholesale
price based on a percentage of the RRP (typically around a 30-40%
discount, which is the retailer's profit margin). The Government
charges VAT at 17.5% and so on. What this means is that nobody's
cut is a direct obstacle to a price reduction, with the exception
of the hardware companies (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) who charge
a flat rate fee of several pounds per game to the software publisher
for the privilege of publishing games on the hardware companies'
price of games is to be reduced significantly, it's ultimately the
hardware companies who will have to lead the way, either by cutting
their fees (which is unlikely) or by changing them from a flat
rate to a percentage of the retail price.
often do. (The average figure for a game these days is around £1
million, and can rise much higher for certain titles.) But the cost
of development has nothing to do with retail price. Albums can cost
tens of millions of pounds to record, but you can still buy
them for £11. Movies can cost hundreds of millions of pounds
to make, but you can still see them for £5 or buy them for £15.
Movies which only cost a few thousand pounds to make (like The Blair
Witch Project) aren't any cheaper to see or buy than super-expensive
blockbusters (like Titanic, which cost literally hundreds of times
as much as Blair Witch). Books cost almost nothing to write, but sell for similar
prices to albums.
all this show us? That the cost of development has no bearing
whatsoever on retail price. Videogames publishers will tell
you that music, say, has a bigger potential audience than games
- but why is that? Could it be because games are four times as expensive
as albums? It's a meaningless, self-fulfilling argument. If you
make games much cheaper, more people will play them, and the audience
you can sell to will be much bigger.
own figure, basically. Because 99% of the cost of making videogames
comes in the development of the game's computer code, which is an
up-front cost. Once the game is written, the cost of producing more
copies to sell is tiny - a few pennies each (except for the licence
fee mentioned above). So there's basically no limit to how low
the price can be set, as long as each reduction brings about
a proportionate increase in sales. It's not a matter of cost, it's
purely an economic policy decision by the publisher. Fair Play's
belief, supported by most of the industry, is that there's no
reason whatsoever that games should cost more than, say, DVD movies,
ie £15-£20. Any figure above that is still a con on the public.
That's the beauty of it. It's Fair Play's core belief that if
the price of games were cut in half, sales would - at least - double.
Because games are very, very cheap to physically produce once you've
actually written them (duplicating a game disc and putting it in
a standard DVD box costs mere pennies), there are next to no manufacturing
costs to worry about, so if prices halved and sales doubled, everyone
would make - at least - the same amount of money, but we'd all have
twice as many games to play. Everybody wins.
one thing, make sure you're always paying the cheapest price possible.
Most High Street game retailers offer "price-matching" policies
these days, but if you don't know that the shop down the street
is five quid cheaper, you can be sure that your first shop isn't
going to tell you about it when you bowl up at the counter. Buying
from online suppliers is nearly always significantly (£5-£10) cheaper
than buying in shops, though some people are still uncomfortable
with buying things on the Internet, or don't know where to look,
or simply don't have access. Ultimately, though, the only thing
we can do to stop the rip-off is get prices reduced at the source.