Siliconera Speaks Up: On Tiered Pricing

By Louise Yang . September 27, 2009 . 8:00am


Should video games have fixed pricing? For example, should DS simple/budget games all be $19.99, and all other DS games be $29.99?


Louise: Of course I get annoyed when companies like Square-Enix releases a game that’s $5 more than similar games on the same platform such as their DS games which are consistently $35 at release instead of $30.  It’s a slap to the face of their fans, but hey, no one is making anyone buy anything.  In cases like these, I usually wait for a price drop.

Despite the annoyance, I still believe in capitalism. Video games should NOT have fixed pricing.  Publishers should be free to dictate how much to charge players for a game.  If they’re greedy and price a game out of reach of their audience, it’s them taking the risk.  I’m sure there are people whose job is solely to feel out the market and advice companies on how to price their games.


Jenni: I wish that games did have fixed prices, because it can be quite frustrating to see Nintendo or Square Enix games retailing for $5 to $10 more than other, similar titles. I have to agree with Louise though. The companies have a right to charge whatever they want. Eventually, they’ll see that they aren’t moving enough units (at least, hopefully they will) and there’ll be a price drop.


For example, look at Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. It debuted at $39.99. Now you can find it for $19.99 new, and even cheaper used. Personally, I’m waiting for that to happen to Dissidia: Final Fantasy. (You all know it will.)


Laura: Haha, ditto to Jenni about FF Dissidia.  Sole reason I haven’t gotten it yet is because I’m waiting for a price drop on a game I won’t be playing for a while.

As for me, I’d rather have games without fixed pricing.  This gives flexibility, and besides, even if the companies charge too much, eventually the prices will drop anyways.  Let the companies charge what they will, and the market and the economy will eventually drive the price down to a more appropriate level if the company is overcharging. 


Spencer: It seems like most publishers follow an unwritten rules about pricing. HD games generally retail for $59.99, Wii titles $49.99, and DS games $34.99. Unless they’re a mega-hit or the odd low print title, games drop in price pretty fast too. It “pays” to be patient, I suppose.

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  • Unless it’s from Atlus or NISA, I’ll wait for a couple price drops. SHMUPS are an exception to the rule. That is all.

    That said, games like Dragon Quest V and TWEWY are well worth the Squaresoft tax.

  • thaKingRocka

    i have no problem with companies deciding to release their titles for less than standard msrp of most games on a system, but cartridge-based games always had varying prices. RPGs cost considerably more than platformers back in the day. i doubt that the reasons still apply today, but if they do, then i can’t really complain. regardless, i’m a true cheapassgamer. i just sit back, play something else, and wait for the 35 dollar title to become 20. sorry, square-enix, but if the price doesn’t drop to 20, i’m never buying whatever DS title it is.
    btw, at 20 bucks, everyone should buy chrono trigger ds. :)

  • Jirin

    Why shouldn’t Square charge more? To Square fans, a Square game is an event. Something unmissable. ‘Square’ and ‘RPG’ are synonymous, and they’ll pay for it no matter what it costs. If it won’t reduce sales much, why shouldn’t they jack up the price? You want lower cost Square games, don’t buy them so automatically.

    I just wish I didn’t have to wait so long for the prices to come down. Unless it’s something I’m absolutely sure, like an SMT game, I tend to wait until I can find a game for $20 or $30. For some games it takes freaking forever.

    • ‘Square’ and ‘RPG’ may be synonymous, but so was ‘MTV’ and ‘Music’ a while back; doesn’t mean they’re good or worth the price. Haha, I’m not arguing or anything, just been a while since I could make that statement.

      Agreed with the price drop wait, especially if you can’t budget an Atlus title upon its launch. Those run the risk of becoming ‘rare’ and even MORE expensive down the line. I was darn lucky to grab a copy of SMT Nocturne for $40. I should never have given it back to my friend after borrowing it.

  • anttichama

    All of those prices sound wonderful to me. $29.99 is what a budget DS title would cost in many european countries.
    I would welcome some kind of tiered game pricing as long as it would tier the prices lower here. You can barely afford anything when a new game costs around $100 (no joke)

    • Joanna

      although it isn’t as bad here, I feel the same way. Canadian prices are 5-10 dollars what American prices are and that 5-10 dollar different is not in the currency exchange rate. The only company that doesn’t do this tends to be Nintendo (although there are some Nintendo games that this 5-10 dollar increase does apply.) For example: SE DS games retail at 45 CAN and not 40. Atlus DS games retail at 40 CAN instead of 35. (Come on Atlus, you can be a little nicer to your Canadian customers, especially since your not suppose to be as greedy as SE!!!) Wii games tend to get a 10 dollar increase. Little King’s Story and Phantom Brave are still 60 CAN. Again the only company to not do this is Nintendo as Super Mario Galaxy retails around 50 CAN and Wario: Shake It retailed around 50 at first, but it’s price was dropped to 40 like the American price.

  • I admit I hated the extra money needed to buy Square Enix and Nintendo games (Nintendo games are usually 34$ and rarely go down in price, ever) . When some companies do it they include something with it. However some of the games are worth that much. I’m just cheap.

    When there are games I know will become rare I don’t care the price (at release).

    • Aoshi00

      That’s where the Limited edition gets us, like gamestop’s exclusive Magna Carta 2 artbook… I want it, but I could also foresee the game dropping in price very soon, I have a feeling it’s a good game but not great. chances are I would set it aside w/ so many games unfinished.

      I feel for those who got burned by the Batman LE (I got the Toysrus $30 gift cert deal w/ the regular game), I heard the Batarang was cheaply made..

      • Yeah that’s when I think if the game is one I really want first, otherwise it wouldn’t matter when it drops because I had fun with it.

        Then there’s the Atlus irony. Here’s a company that we know most of its games will be rare thus it’s one of the few companies I preorder or get really close to release. Yet everytime I go to gamestop I manage to find a few DS games drop to 20$.

        • That’s only really true for their DS/Wii games and to some extent P3/P4. Even then, games like My World My Way are now considered rare. The Dark Spire must have completely bombed though since it’s now 10$ new everywhere you look.

          • It’s actually worse than that — Dark Spire dropped to $5 at GS this week. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Atlus game go that low before.

          • Ereek

            That’s too bad, The Dark Spire was great. Of course, this is coming from someone who can’t stand EO.

            I recently bought a copy of My World My Way for $15 and at another store I bought an old ATLUS title, Master of the Monster Lair, for $10. My experiences have only been good with tiered pricing.

  • Aoshi00

    Thing is games, just like anything, are only worth as much as you “think” they are, so like Louise said let the market decide. Even though the MSRP for PS3/360 and Wii games are set at $60 & 50 respectively which is “mostly” fair, one would still think they’re overpriced if one doesn’t think they are truly worth that, the Square-Enix tax is just an extra punch in the stomach..

    Also games drop in price so quickly these days, like I want to play Dead Space Extraction but I would rather wait 3 months for the price drop seeing how HotD Overkill and Mad World came down to $20 in no time. It’s an on-rail shooter that I’m only going to play once for the story for the most part, so $50 is steep (for some it’s even a rental).

    Price for 360 Shmup ports is jacked up too, but since they’re not released anywhere else, the only way to play them is just suck it up and import a Jpn system.

    I tried to look for deals to save every penny, but I also import a lot, for big titles like MGS4 & FF13. $90-100 a game is absurd, it all comes down to if you want to play it on day 1.. so what I save I kind of waste elsewhere… I would hate to think of the price tag in pounds or Euro…

  • Devonian

    I think it’s a great idea, especially for chronic price-gouging of the sort Square-Enix and Nintendo engage in (especially Nintendo, since their games NEVER seem to go down in price. Pokemon games have always sold for full price until they’re taken off the shelves, iirc).

  • mooncalf

    If you think the US has an annoying price structure, try Australia. New console games can vary anywhere from AUD$80-$120. Keep in mind our exchange rate is close to AUD$0.90 to a US$.
    Haven’t games gotten cheaper over time in America? They surely have if you factor in inflation, but even in straight dollar terms I seem to remember SNES games being ~$60.

  • Hasn’t 50 bucks been the standard for new games on a current system market?
    I think the current pricing market is ok for now, only as long as a certain amount of games are released and available.

    What’s interesting is seeing the downloadable games; Virtual Console, iPhone games, Steam, Rockin’ Android, Manga Gamer, etc. It’s such a new territory (to me, at least), like being in the wild west. Seeing them trying to pin a price tag on their games makes me wonder if there will be a standard for that as well or maybe continue to go with the flow?
    Whatever happens will ultimately be up to the public.

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