Consider the following scenario: you’re working on a game, and it’s going to take a while. You’ve already launched a game, and it sold very well. Now that technology has been improving and coming up with all sorts of crazy things you could do, would you go back to remaster the game you previously launched? Chances are, yes, you would. If it was popular enough, it would sell well again as a remaster and help to subsidize your income while you work on a new project.
This is the reality of many developers. Subsidizing income by improving on something they already created and launched. And when it comes to pricing, they contemplate supply and demand. In the end, if players are willing to pay X for it, then it will be priced as such.
That begs the question, however: Is this a smart system? Is it okay for developers to charge full price for a game twice? Let’s dissect the specifics.
The Pros of Premium Pricing
Premium pricing is better known as full retail price on games. Sixty bucks for a game that has already been launched. But that’s not always the case. Turns out, premium pricing is normally reserved for bestselling games. Huge AAA titles that have a giant following. In indie terms, it means paying the full $30-40 for a game, assuming it’s even priced that high (most indies go for around $20).
By keeping price high, developers can earn more from their work. They provide something “old” to players, but with a new spin. This allows the developers to work on new projects altogether, providing new games for players in the long run.
Because it’s purely a bestseller thing, players are generally accepting of the price tag. They’re willing to pay for this. However, that doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing either . . .
The Cons of Premium Pricing
For players to pay full price again, there needs to be an incentive to get them to do so. For instance, Skyrim‘s remaster did not add any enhancements besides visually and resolution. There were no new quests, weapons, characters, or armors. And yet, most people were happy to pay $60 for the simple fact that they could play in a more enhanced world. As a developer, you might feel that this is rather cheap. For players, it’s paying for a few extra God Rays in a game.
Now, keep in mind, PC prices differ. Skyrim was free at one point. Now you can get it for under $20. Meanwhile, this entire time, it’s been retailing for $60 on console. This creates a rather large divide in terms of prices for the two platforms, fueling the competitive nature of players.
Obvious Differences: PC vs. Console
Generally speaking, PC gaming offers better graphics. It’s not always the case, as consoles like the PS4 Pro are closing the gap quickly. There are mods, which allow the players to customize their games, if you will. This allows them to play with some added perks, like a modified home, or even special pets. There are modifications that enhance the game world too, making remasters relatively redundant.
And yet, PC gaming is still too complex. You need an unreasonable amount of disposable income, copious amounts of time to research and shop around for the parts you’ll need, and then you need to assemble it all. As PC gaming specifications change, so will your rig.
Adding in the dilemma between remaster prices is like adding salt to the wound of a never ending battle between the PC gaming world, and that of consoles. Pricing the same game differently fuels the fire, but at the same time, due to the differences between the two platforms, it’s impossible to price remasters equally.
In the end, the right price is the one that players are willing to play. When pricing a remaster, developers often ask, “What value would players assign to this game?” The answer gives them a price. Premium games can get away with the higher pricing because people pay, regardless if there’s new content or not. There just needs to be an incentive, like improved graphics.
It does come with the potential for guilt, as it comes off as an easy way to make more money off of something that takes far less time to improve. Furthermore, it can cause some backlash and questions. Some players take to forums to express their disgust with the practice, pointing out how other remasters go for much less.
And more than that, it poses questions regarding PC and console gaming. It fuels the gap between both platforms, oftentimes acting as a disservice to players. Whether PC should get the cheaper price tag or not, it happens. And it will continue to happen as long as it works.