Is the next generation of gaming too expensive?
Both Sony's and Microsoft's new consoles have been announced and while their price points have yet to be released (June 2013) It seems that gaming is becoming a very expensive hobby to undertake. I'm not just talking about the price of the consoles themselves because this applies to PC gaming as well, but the overall cost of being able to be what we might call a "real gamer". It doesn't seem that long ago that you would be able to buy a console and some games and them play to your hearts content. Play against friends online and your single player experience would uninterrupted until you completed your game. This simply doesn't exist in the same manner anymore. Even in the world of mobile gaming it seems that you cant just buy a game and play it anymore. There seems to be a secondary cost to everything these days. I know you don't strictly have to spend the extra money but if you want to be a gamer then you really don't have the choice. The purpose of this article is to look at all the costs that a gamer now faces if they wish to have everything that a game offers. Not to offend PC gamers here in this article but we are mainly looking at consoles as the Price for PC gaming has always been quite high with the cost of upgrading a PC constantly, however its worth pointing out that the PC is becoming an option price wise as console gaming is getting more and more expensive all the time. And yes I realise that those PC gamers out there consider themselves "real" gamers . For what its worth I prefer playing games on my PC more than either of my consoles.
This cost to be fair doesn't come round very often but as a gamer its a cost that you cant avoid and the costs of new consoles on release are not exactly what we call cheap. The two big ones the PS4 and Xbox One have had the prices revealed. And with the PS4 at £349 and the Xbox One at £429 with the Kinect sensor bundled in (compulsory). Its a fair chunk of cash to part with at the outset. Now I'm sure these consoles will come with a single controller and no games at this price (unless they chuck in a Kinect game maybe). Yes these new consoles do a lot more than just games, but does the gamer really care about that? Microsoft got a lot of criticism for its consoles saying that they focused too much on media and not on games. Microsoft denies this and says the Xbox One is Games, Games, Games but there is no denying that both the consoles have extra media functions as a major part of the platform. A techie or a gamer however probably wont need these or more than likely has other methods of getting video on demand or TV on demand, has plenty of ways to get the things that the Xbox and PS4 offers, so maybe the gamer is paying a premium here for things that they don't use.
With your new console you will be invited to subscribe to the online service from Microsoft and Sony. These being Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus. Xbox Live offers you a variety of online features including media, online magazines, updates, demos and whatever else Microsoft decide to add into the new version. PlayStation Plus as it is currently known offers similar things but also offers its users access to free games each month as well as discounts off others. Pricing varies for the two depending on the deals that you can get and how you purchase them. The big difference between the two is that Xbox Live is required to play multiplayer games online while on the PlayStation the Plus version is not required for online gaming. Whether or not this remains in the next generation of the consoles remains to be seen. I cant see that Microsoft will relax its policy but with Sony not making much cash in the market in terms of profit they may have to consider making it mandatory which again will only add to the cost of gaming.
Obviously if you have a new console you will need to buy new games. Prices have steadily risen over the years, while there is no doubting that the creating of these games is a very expensive business it doesn't change the fact that some games are creeping up to the £50 mark to purchase. Gamers know that you have to buy the new games when they come out otherwise you find out the story and what happens, plus you have to be the first to complete it or get the advantage in the multiplayer modes. Over the life of a console new games will cost much more than the console itself so the the price is rocketing up now.
DLC (Downloadable Content)
This area of funding the games creators while not a recent thing, has really accelerated in the past year. It seems every game you purchase is not quite the full story so to speak, in order to progress a little further into the game you will have to buy the add-on pack to unlock new levels or side quests. It doesn't stop there however, want to buy new weapons, new outfits, new avatar items, extra custom slots for load outs, new camo's, new multiplayer maps. Whatever it might be there will be a cost involved. Even FIFA has its ultimate team where you have to buy points to get better players for your team. Personally I think this has a gone a little too far, it would be easy to buy a game for £40 and quite easily have spend over £100 on it buy the time you have finished with it.
What's a gamer without they are kitted out without the latest accessories, at the very least they are going to have a decent headset with microphone, you are looking at over £100 for a gaming level headset although much cheaper ones are available. The new Xbox will have a Kinect bundled in, but Sony will have their own camera to buy and that will bring the cost in line with the Xbox. I'm not going to list all the things that you can buy for games consoles, but as you can imagine there are simply loads of pieces of kit that you can purchase to improve your gaming experience.
Now probably the most contentious issue here is the cost of used games. Recently Microsoft has backtracked on their decision to limit to use of used games and the lending and selling of these games. This is good news as it means that Xbox One would be owners know that they can sell their games and get some of the money back. However the cost doesn't stop with the console manufacturers, some games publishers are also finding ways to get money from used games. The most popular one is the idea of having to buy online codes in order to access the online or multiplayer portion of the game.
So with all of these costs and I'm sure there are more you can think of, is the gaming industry pricing too many people out of the market? would not reducing some of these costs encourage more sales of games and consoles? This is not one for me to judge but it does seem like some gamers are being taken out of the loop by simply not having the funds to keep up. Charging for a game and then for everything in game is my biggest hate but with all the costs together its a real eye opener to see how much you really spend in todays gaming world.
Sony announced the need for playstation plus for online gaming at E3
No great surprise really, I think they had to do it.
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