Friday, March 14, 2014

Why Are Games Cheaper Than Food?

Often, when I'm considering whether or not to buy a video game, I compare its price to the cost of some common object, usually food related. For example, a game on sale for $5 cost roughly the same as two boxes of pop-tarts. It's true that newly released triple-A games are usually priced at $60, but with Steam sales and other such deals, it's been a long time since I've payed full price for a game.

Because of this, I've come to the conclusion that either games are really cheap or food is very expensive. Things really clicked today. Last year, I bought the game Dragon Age: Origins for $7.49 and spent approximately 140 hours entertaining myself with that particular set of 1s and 0s. Today, I spent $8.51 on a wonderful birthday dinner with little to no hesitation.

I suppose it's a good point that food is necessary for life and games aren't, but if necessity is the only argument, I could have simply eaten the bread and spam I had stored in my dorm room. I think it's the fact that games are digital that makes them so cheap. Games are released at full price, and people eager to play will pay $60 to get access on the first day. As the months go by, there may be a 33% off sale, then a 50% off sale. Years go by and a 'Gold Edition' or 'Director's Cut' is released for $20. The Gold Edition goes on sale, and that's when you see Rome: Total War available for $1. The boiled-down idea is that once a game has been produced, any gross profit from sales is essentially net profit. As opposed to food, the developers of a game don't have to make a new copy when someone buys a digital download. It's almost like an infinite resource.

With that in mind, I'll go ahead and assume that food, going through the normal process of being grown and processed and prepared and served, is the normal-priced category. Gaming can be a big drain on the wallet, and for that I suggest the bag-of-chips recommendation plan: for every recommendation by someone you know, be willing to pay the price of one bag of chips. Or just plug the metacritic rating into this formula, where x = money to pay and m = rating:  x = (m^1.19 - 2m)/2.

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