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Ground Zeroes is Only Worth What You'll Pay For It

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 22 Apr 2014 16:00
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It would certainly take a profound lack of self-awareness to release what amounts to a demo for The Phantom Pain for roughly half the price of a full-on triple-A release, and that brings me to the other thing I wanted to raise for discussion in this article. Metal Gear can be weird at times, but even if it was lining up the boy scouts for a graphic gang-rape jamboree, it still wouldn't be doing any harm; nobody takes it seriously enough. But even the encouraging bullies would stop letting the weird kid hang around if he started stealing their wallets, and that's what releasing a demo for $40 basically is.

This comes back to recent discussions on Titanfall, and whether or not you can justify charging full price for a mutliplayer-only game whose campaign you can be done with in under an hour. It all leads to a central question on how, exactly, one quantifies the financial worth of a video game. Quite a few correspondents got up my butt about my position, in an entirely anticipated round of butt spelunking, stating that they had clocked up tens of hundreds of hours playing Titanfall over and over again, and that they, personally, had gotten their money's worth. Similarly, other individuals have done the upward butt assault since my Ground Zeroes review, reiterating a point that I already bloody made that there are bonus missions available to do within the game's lone map, and again, that they personally had extracted at least $40 worth of entertainment.

Suit yourself, but I'd rather look beyond the anecdotal experience. A mad person could pay forty bucks for, say, ET on the Atari 2600, and spend an enjoyable eighty hours counting how many pixels are in every sprite, and they personally would have gotten their money's worth. In my opinion, the objective worth of a game should be measured in hours of content, not hours of average playtime - how many hours go past before a game has nothing new to offer and starts repeating itself, because the number of additional hours of fun that can be extracted becomes much more subjective at that point.

Newness is also a factor in the considered worth of a video game, as part of the industry's larger neophilia infection. I could go on the internet right now and download enough older games to keep me occupied for the whole 80 hours required to die of sleep deprivation (Editor's Note: There is documented evidence of someone going 264 hours without sleep.), and the combined cost would be under twenty bucks. Eighty dollars for two hours (or even six hours) cannot possibly compare just because it's a new game. And you don't get this in films: a rental of a brand new blockbuster movie versus the rental of an old classic will be a difference of what, two or three bucks? Video games being the most profitable entertainment industry on Earth suddenly seems like less of an accolade when you factor in that the pricing is nuttier than in the wedding ring industry.

But all of these factors are meaningless. I've brushed up against the world of business more than once, and an accountant once shared with me the true secret of worth. There is only one factor that defines the price of something you're trying to sell, and that's how much the buyer is prepared to pay for it. So once again, you have only yourself to blame. Thanks a lot, asshole.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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