Graham: Adam! Adam! Yesterday a listing on the US PlayStation blog appeared suggesting that No Man’s Sky [official site] pre-orders are due to start tomorrow, the 3rd of March, and that on PlayStation at least the game would cost $60. That seems like the price of a videogame to me, but other people are upset. How much would you pay for a functionally infinite galaxy of planets to explore? $55 tops?
Adam: Hundreds of pounds. Thousands. A procedurally generated bank vault’s worth of infinite money.
But, seriously, $59.99 sounds entirely reasonable to me (not a cent more). There are two things that came to my mind when I saw all of the conversation around this latest DRAMA when I sat down at my computer this morning.
1) I don’t think of games as having specific value. By which I mean, the games that I own do not gain or lose value depending on how much I play or enjoy them. If the games I played most were worth the most money, Football Manager would be worth more than I could possibly afford and I wouldn’t pay more than a few pennies for Her Story. As it is, I’m more inclined to spend the bigger wodge of cash on Her Story because I know that money – or at least a sizeable portion of it – is going to the chap who made the game and the person who had an acting role in the game. With Football Manager, I have no idea how the money divides among the team, how much Sega skim off the top and which people within Sports Interactive really worked on the best features that year. Maybe I should be able to specify where within the company I want my money to go.
2) And that’s the heart of the second point. With No Man’s Sky a lot of the griping about the possibility that it is a ‘full price game’ seems to relate to whatever the hell the word ‘indie’ means today AND to the size of the team. It’s wrapped up in notions of what people deserve. And I can’t help but think that big corporations (and Sony are involved with NMS, of course) are spending a lot of the money to pay back marketing costs. The twelve people, or however many, at Hello Games most likely aren’t setting the price themselves and they’re certainly not dividing the takings between them evenly, twelve ways. There are so many assumptions about how all of this works.
So, yes, I’d pay a lot of money for the game. $60 is a lot of money. Most copies will probably be sold for less given how many sales will happen within the game’s lifespan and how many people wait for those sales or simply only buy ANY game once it’s on sale. $60, if that is the price, is the upper limit of what it will ever cost. It seems sensible to set that high knowing that it’ll be cut down by 30/50/75% at regular periods down the line.
It’s worth noting that I live in a constant state of anxiety – every time I remember that Dwarf Fortress is free I want to throw money at Tarn Adams because I want that thing to exist and I want the person making it to be able to carry on making it, or something else creative and wonderful, for a very long time.
Am I a fool too easily parted from my money?
Graham: I subscribed to Dwarf Fortress’ Patreon, so paid $5 towards it each month for a year. Now that I think about it, that works out to be $60.
That said, while I agree with you broadly, I’m not yet ready to spend $60 on No Man’s Sky. Maybe when it’s out, when it’s been reviewed, when all my friends are playing it, when I know that either it is good or interesting or contains something that will fill my value bucket to its brim. For now, when it’s still an unknown – both in content and quality – $60 is too rich for my blood.
But yes, theoretically I feel the same as you. $60 doesn’t seem too much for this game or any game, particularly, and those sorts of decisions feel so personal, determined by your bank account and bills, that it’s foolish to try to put a fixed number on what something should cost.
Except for Dwarf Fortress.
Also, to throw a final few caveats into the ring: aside from neither Sony or Hello Games confirming that the date and price are accurate, there’s no guarantee that the price or pre-order date will be the same on PC, even though we know it’ll be released on both platforms simultaneously. It seems relatively safe to assume that the price at least will be the same, but we don’t know anything for sure.
Of that we can be sure.
What do ye think, readers? Here’s a screengrab of the US PlayStation Blog listing, to stare at while your construct your arguments: