We are always in a stage where it is about the price, as such the title ‘are video games too expensive?’ In the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2021/feb/08/are-video-games-too-expensive-assassins-creed-cyberpunk-2077) had my attention, I wonder what they are throwing at us this time, they being Luke Holland. He throws “With new consoles from Sony and Microsoft expected, a raft of video game publishers announced that the RRP of their new releases would increase for the first time since the mid-00s” at us and that seems fine. There is also the fact that most game dealers tend to lower that price off the bat, the makers have there day one discounts and it goes on. I get it. Luke is not wrong and through the article he gives a decent point of view, but some issues remain. It is not given with “While an extra £20 won’t break the bank for some, games might already be stretching what little disposable income many people have, particularly when twinned with the £250-£450 cost of the shiny new console on which to play them”, it is a fact, but there is more (there always is). He touches on it with “the cost of producing an AAA game – big-budget, big-studio, tentpole titles – is now akin to that of making a Hollywood blockbuster. Grand Theft Auto V, released in 2013, cost £195m in development and marketing” yet he dances around it by dangling Cyberpunks and the bugs in our faces, whilst he ignores the massive bug list that AC Valhalla had (the very first image in the story). So whilst we get “A Martin Scorsese film lumbers in at three hours long. Most narrative-led games clock in at 15-or-so hours – five whole Scorseses; a hundred quid’s worth of Marty”, yes but there we see it, the quality, quality is what separates them, Scorsese hands us sheer perfection, Ubisoft products have not done this for the better part of a decade, in addition a game like Cyberpunk is showing us innovation to a much larger degree even (if for now) it has bugs. Ubisoft has been treating us to more of the same for years and they still can’t get it right. That is the part that is missing in this. And the gem is given at the very last “Yes, £70 is a lot. But choose wisely and you’ll never, ever feel short-changed”, yes we agree, but the ‘choose wisely’ part has become tainted. Consider that IGN gave us ‘Update 1.1.0 will fix over 30 Quest, World Event, and Side Activity issues, many that would prevent players from proceeding due to glitches and problems’, they gave this TWO MONTHS after the game was released, so how come that we see scores (metacritic: 80-85) depending on what system, a game with that many bugs is given 70+? And when we see that per source Gamepro (65) to PC gamer (92), we should have issues with the ‘choose wisely part’, in opposition there is Watchdogs: Legion, they did get that part right and when we see metacritic reviews (66-74) we need to sit down and consider that we all have different tastes and the settings are not equally pressed, which is unfair to Ubisoft as well.
This is where the shoes become an issue, we might think that £20 is not too big an issue, when you are in a stage where you might buy a lemon £20 is a lot, really it is.
As we try to set a value per time range, we need to consider that art is not easily categorised, and a true video game is still a work of art, which is why I have been slapping Ubisoft all I can, as I feel that they forgot that part. They got parts right they got games right. Even now, I still see in my mind the sunrise in AC Origins, perhaps because it was the first real 4K game, perhaps it was the setting, but they got that part right, pretty much all of it, which is why I am so angry about AC Valhalla. I stayed away from it and until the price is set to below £10 I continue to do so. I got AC Odyssey at £10 at some point, and I still regret it, so I might not fall for that this time around, in this I have serious settings on finding a way to officially remove Ubisoft from the AAA developers list, but then I remember, they got Watchdogs: Legion right, they might pull it off again.
In this we need to make one more sidestep, Luke gives us “December’s Cyberpunk 2077 – despite being unfinished, riddled with bugs and, on consoles, uglier than a pooing pug”, which is interesting as he did not give us that setting for AC Valhalla, did he? I get it, we all have style of games we like, as I was in the 70’s addicted to the original William Gibson’s Neuromancer, I remain faithful to the game, I keep it on my shelf and I wait until the fixes have come in to play beyond the introduction. We also seem to forget that Cyberpunk 2077 had grossed well over $600 million in digital sales alone as of the end of 2020. He can have that view, I never liked GTA5, I did not like GTA4, so I stayed away from the sequel, I get it plenty like it, but it is not for me, just like Skyrim is not the game for a lot of them. We all have different tastes.
Yet the title of the article remains in my mind, it still does, you see the part that Luke skated away from is that Immortals Fenyx Rising is $39 in the US, the same game is $50 in Europe, $77 in Australia and $45 in the UK (all PS4 prices). And this has been going on for years, all whilst the prices are even worse when you buy a digital format game, it also impacts the value of the art but we do not see that here, or in Luke’s defence with “a hundred quid’s worth of Marty”, when a game is not set to a level stage we see the issues, especially when the Xbox store charges more for a digital copy than a store would for a physical one, even an Australian store. This has been going on for at least 5 years. Games are judged by markers, but the reviewers are using different markers on different stages and they all refer to them as ‘markers’, as such people are walking away because they can no longer tell the difference. In this the final remark (which is still wise) “But choose wisely and you’ll never, ever feel short-changed” loses ground. An overhaul of what reviews and what should be reviewed is set to corners that are blatantly disregarded and it required an overhaul for well over a decade, I know because in the beginning (1988-1999) I was a reviewer. I might never have been the best, but I was always fair on the games I reviewed and I kept to the games I liked. When you get 2 pages a month, you want to spend them on the games you like, nothing else. A flaw? Optionally, but I had to make the space count so I did it on the games I likes and other reviewers on the games they liked.
And I will admit, reviewing has become a lot more complex. A game that was on the CBM64, Atari ST or PC286 does not compare what is out today, so in that consider Watchdogs: Legion (at https://www.bworldonline.com/it-could-have-been-transcendent-arts/), I for the most agree with the review and the 85% score is decent and well earned and the one issue that I have is seen in “perhaps due to the weight of its pledges, it never gets to reach its projected dazzling heights. It never stops being enjoyable, but the most demanding players will be bothered by a nagging feeling that it could have been not just better, but transcendent — that it’s just a few steps shy of greatness”, it sums up the failing of Ubisoft, games that could have been beyond ‘WOW!’ are merely ‘Nice!’ And many reviewers do not do half as good a job on reviews as Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong did. So whilst we give attention to ‘choose wisely’ we forget that gamers are getting overloaded with reviews on all kinds of digital formats, and they often can no longer separate the critical reviewer from the unquestioning followers and the blind hater, which is an actual problem that makes any gamer like they are getting played and suddenly that £20 makes a whole lot of difference.
If enough people say that it is not a marker, it is a coffee stick. We will see that at some point some will stir their coffee with it, no matter where it was before.