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Should single-player-only games be cheaper?

That's certainly one way to look at why some recent games have tanked, though I'm not sure it's the only reason.

I've been playing the well-reviewed recent game, Shadows of the Damned, and think it's actually a pretty good game. However, it doesn't quite reach the heights that a number of reviewers have said it does. That being said, I'm not very far into it, and the first two boss fights are horribly tedious and annoying, so maybe I'm biased and it will get better.

However, that's not the purpose of this blog.

It's recently been revealed that sales of the game have been horrendous, only 24,000 copies as of July 15 (that's the date that the article I saw this number in was written, anyway).

According to Games Radar (I looked for this story on GI, but couldn't find it), game director Massimo Guarini is blaming the supremely low sales on the game being too expensive as a single-player-only experience.

According to the article:

"“Single-player-only games are nowhere close to being doomed. The problem rather lies in how they're produced, through which channels they're sold, and at which price points,” Guarini told GameSpot Australia, clarifying, “I can't see in any way a single-player experience being less engaging or interesting because of the absence of multiplayer. Instead, I can definitely see how players who pay 60 or 70 bucks for a game can be quite sensitive to the lack of additional features that can justify their investment.”"

But is that true?

Guarini goes on to say that other problems were the horrible promotion budget (and the article mentions that production delays ate into the budget, which included the advertising budget. It's nice to see that explained rather than just a blanket condemnation of EA for not promoting it) which resulted in not many people hearing about it. And this is despite a large number of games sites and magazines giving it great reviews.

So does it all go back to the games being too expensive? Is this a tangent off of my recent (Ok, March is kind of recent) post about "how important is game length to you?" Single-player games are inherently shorter than games with good multiplayer options, because the multiplayer can be played again and again until the player either gets bored or runs out of ways to level up.

Should this affect pricing? Should single-player only games be $50, or even $40?

Many gamers don't play multiplayer games, so they could make the argument that no game should be $60, then. If you're getting less out of the experience (either by choice or because the game is only single-player), should you pay less?

While I would love to see this, I don't think it's necessarily a reason why Shadows of the Damned failed. There are plenty of single-player-only games out there that still do well. The Mass Effect series, not to mention any other successful RPG, is a perfect example of  a single-player experience that many gamers find worth the $60 they paid for it.

Would they sell more if the price point were lower? Maybe, though it goes back to the "bang for your buck" side of the game length argument. If you're getting a suitable bang for $60, even if it's only single-player, then you're happy (or at least content, because are we gamers ever truly happy?).

This may eventually work itself out in one suggested model of selling games in stages (at least electronically), where you could buy the single player for $30 and the multiplayer for $30 if you only wanted that. Or maybe buy both for a slight discount. That would be one way around this, but I'm not sure that's economical for games that only have a single-player option. Can a game made in this day and age, with the modern day budgets, be profitable at a $30 price point? (Yes, You Don't Know Jack is $30, but I can't imagine the budget for that game is as high as many of the retail games out there).

It all comes back to "is the experience worth the money?" And, as an addendum to that, are gamers willing to spend their money and try something that's a little bit different? Some say that the game failed because too many gamers don't want to try something new and innovative, even though they complain about how everything is the same. (I admit that this is one reason that I waited so long to play Alan Wake)

Whatever the reason behind the failure of Shadows, I don't think it can be attributed to too high of a price point.

At least not by itself.

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