How Much Games Should Cost, What You Think?

My post about $2.99 price point got me thinking of what kind of prices I’m willing to pay for games. I’m looking at my Steam list since the end of 2007 and here’s the prices for the games I’ve purchased via Steam:

  • $12.14
  • $36.54
  • $60.99
  • $60.99
  • $12.07 (9.99 eur)
  • $18.11 (14.99 eur)
  • Free
  • $2.52 (2.09 eur)
  • $12.07 (9.99 eur)
  • $24.15 (19.99 eur)

I marked bold those games that I’ve completed or which are something I’ve spent time playing (Mainly Half-life 2 mods and Garry’s mod is on that list as well). I marked italic those that I purchased for 98% research purposes (Garry’s mod goes in this category too).

As you can see, there’s couple of games in the higher end ($60ish) – games which I nowadays hardly ever touch. Cannot actually remember when I last played either one.

Couple of games (10 to 20 eur) were purchased mainly for research (and I only tested these like few times to see how they work and all that).

And then there’s couple of 10ish eur (bit over $10) games which I’ve actually played recently.

In fact, from this chart it looks to me that I’m willing to spend some money for games (up to $61), but the games I really enjoy fall in the lower end (around $10).

Starting to think of it… somehow that $10 sounds a good price point. Ten bucks is something I can throw in a small game, and I know I don’t necessarily need to spend tons of time (as a slightly busy dad my time has become even more precious…) so those small games actually work quite well. If the price goes to $20 or $30, I might actually not do the purchase. Not sure if it’s because of the price, or whether it also means that I need to spend time playing these games (since I think they probably last longer than those $2 or $12 games)… and of course the barrier to spend $10 is few times smaller than spending $30.

At that price point perhaps I don’t care too much if the game isn’t that fun. And if the game is good, then perhaps I get a nice surprise (as in “oh, this was good! and only ten bucks”). And $10 games I get to buy double more games than with $20.

I know I can waste that $20 by buying couple of subway meals and I can get rid of $20 by buying some shit… but somehow the “ten bucks” feels good.

This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t pay more (or less) for games that I think are good. It simply reflects that somehow I feel good about that $10 price tag.

I know in this matter we are probably going to get a very twisted poll results from a game developer audience, but let’s ask anyway.

How much you’d like games to cost?

[poll id=34]

There’s smaller and bigger games and naturally this means there’s variation for how much I want to pay for games. But… let’s keep it simple, let’s take one price tag. You are free to comment your vote.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. From personal experience price has no bearing on my enjoyment of a game.

    Something I always think of in these cases is my experience of buying Mass Effect. I bought the first game for £5 second hand, and really enjoyed it, but because I’d really enjoyed the first I was totally pumped for the second and bought it the moment it was released at £27 (so more than 5x the cost that I got the first one.)

    I guess what I’m saying is that people are bound to pay more if they have an emotional attachment to a developer or series. Most of the time this is from users buying an older game from the developer at a cheaper price and enjoying it. This works well for Bioware, SquareEnix, Valve and for more independent peeps positech, popcap, and so on.

    Building a good brand is better than building a great game in terms of what you can sell your next title for. In my opinion anyway ^_^

  2. I voted $50 because most games in Finland cost around that, and I only buy games which are worth that. Sometimes there are also classic games which cost around $14, but that is a special case.

  3. Good points Jake. That last statement is so true. I’m saying that I like $10 price point, but you can see me spending donuts on much higher prices… :)

  4. Yes but there is a distribution curve with a sweet spot of around $15. Of course money is left on the table for customers who’d pay more so that’s why you have special editions and extra content, and for those who’d pay less you release a discounted version later on. That captures moreorless the max revenue. With social games powered by micro-transactions you also max out the possible revenue and have some customer spending hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars.

    Another thing to consider: what people say they would spend is never the same as what they actually DO spend :-)

  5. I’d say: “If my $10 helps these indie devs to make this possible then great!”


  6. First no offense to anyone …

    Second anyone that thinks what games should be sold for just doesn’t get it.

    I’ve paid $10 for games I didn’t like and paid $70 for games I enjoyed a lot (canadian dollar was worth next to nothing back then and the game was Phantasmagoria).

    If you don’t like the price of a game keep it for yourself and just don’t buy it. Buying a game is not a right it’s a choice. If the price is too high then it’s the dev’s problem and not yours. Someone that feels betrayed over and over about games’ price should just stick to free Flash game. Whining about price just doesn’t achieve anything. If a game is indeed too costly for what it’s worth then it will fail by itself.

    We all know we’re all cheap bastards. Why try to make a point about that …

    I’ve seen people complain about a $20 game from an indie game developer just trying to make a living. It’s of course easy to to pretend that by lowering the price this dev would have make x10 more sells but then those people rarely have released a game themselves …

    Bottom line? I don’t have any pity for someone that have money to spend on games. Some people just don’t know the value of money …

  7. Brand new releases should cost $20. I’d buy a lot more games as soon as they come out if that was the price.

    6 months to a year after, the price should drop to $10.

    If they did that, the used game market would go away. Which would mean more money for the actual developers.

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