As a console enters its twilight years, it’s inevitable that the amount of budget priced software beings to increase, especially if that console has a sizeable userbase.
It happened with the PSone – which survived off a diet of £9.99 titles for a good three years after the PlayStation 2 was released – and also the PlayStation 2 itself.
We can even trace this trend as far back to the days of the Commodore 64 – for its final year or so Commodore Force magazine was filled with reviews of budget re-releases and little more.
This general drop in software pricing occurs for a couple of reasons. Firstly, due to reduced production costs – whereas the Xbox 360 and more significantly the PlayStation 3 gave developers a few ‘teething problems’ at launch, at this point in their life the tools, game engines, art assets and more are readily available and more than familiar. This opens the door for lesser-known publishers and developers to knock out smaller, quicker to produce games at a relatively inexpensive cost.
Further, when new consoles are released we start to see a shift in demographic. Older consoles are handed down to younger siblings and as the price of consoles fall towards that magical £99.99 mark they become viable options for those on limited income.
With a younger demographic the demand for pocket-money priced games starts to grow. We attributed Minecraft becoming the UK’s number one – a month after it launched – to the fact that the kids were off school that week and that it only costs £12.99 (or thereabouts). Of course, it also helps that Minecraft is a fascinatingly brilliant game.
Development costs are perhaps still too high at the moment for us to envision a publisher wheeling out a range of £9.99 console games, but in the future that may be a possibility. Those chances could improve somewhat if a publisher looked to the Eastern world and start localising Japanese games, like Midas Interactive did for almost their entire PlayStation 2 back catalogue. There are perhaps more random Japanese Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games that would be suitable for a Western release than most of us realise.