Online gaming means spending more money.

May 6, 2007

Sometimes I think companies that sell games and consoles would like the consumer cost of gaming to move from its present cost to more like the cost model of a movie. One of the main reasons computer and video games are so popular is because even at $50 a game, you get more entertainment time per dollar than you do at the movies. Say Spiderman 3 costs you $10 for two and a half hours. A good video game might give you 50 hours of entertainment time or more for $50.

But the video game model is shifting. Let’s look at Xbox Live. It is a really cool service, but it’s not an inexpensive one. Most things cost points. I submit to you that if you started downloading stuff every time you sat down to play, you would end up spending more per month than if you just bought games from the game store. Plus, Xbox Live’s premium version itself costs money.

Look at World of Warcraft. You’re paying a monthly fee. Maybe it’s worth it, but the point is you’re getting closer to the movie model in terms of cost per gaming hour than if you just bought a game from a game store.

The more money consumers spend in gaming, the more profits the various companies involved make. I’m all for capitalism, but I’m also for being a smart consumer. The companies have the advantage. I want to look for bargains and I certainly don’t want to pay for bad content. A smart gamer should look carefully at new content and set a budget. It would be easy to start spending hundreds of dollars per month on games, just like we already do on cable.

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