Does Price Equal Worth on XBLA?

I’ve been thinking for a while about the price structure of the Xbox LIVE Arcade or more importantly how do we properly identify a game’s worth?  There doesn’t seem to be any definite standard by Microsoft as we’ve seen games range in price from 400 – 1600 Microsoft Points. 

Xbox LIVE Arcade

Is it the name of the publisher or developer on an XBLA title that sets the tone on price?  Should a game from Penny Arcade cost more because it’s Penny Arcade?  NinjaBee has made what I personally think are some of the best games on Xbox LIVE Arcade yet neither of their titles top out over 800 Microsoft Points.  Cloning Clyde was great.  A Kingdom for Keflings is pure, mindless, waste-hours-of-your-life fun.  So is it the content of the title?  The size of the title that sets the price?  The hype?  Hype makes me cringe at how much The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai will cost.

I’ve always been curious as to why there is no guideline made available to the public on how these titles are priced.  Why not (even if it’s from the developer side) give a general outline of how Microsoft and developers come to a decision on a price for an XBLA title?  There was an outline for delisting games so why not this?

The recently released R-Type Dimensions clocked in at a staggering 1200 Microsoft Points.  We’ve seen 1600 Microsoft Points games from the boys at Penny Arcade.  We’ve also seen many 1200 Microsoft Points game that some argue were worth it (Castle Crashers, Braid) while others (Banjo-Kazooie) left a WTF on our faces.  Do you plan to get as much enjoyment out of R-Type Dimensions as you did Castle Crashers?  How much replay value has N+ given gamers at 800 MP versus the replay value in Braid at 1200 MP?  So how should we justify prices on these XBLA games?

When I see remakes of classics (that you could get for free on PC) clock in at 1200 Microsoft Points I honestly scratch my head.  But that’s what happens when you don’t have any consistency or standard behind how these games are priced.  Or perhaps Microsoft does but how are we supposed to know?  Has there even been a 400 Microsoft Points game recently?  The tight-lipped service is growing thin with many people.

Totemball 

The Xbox LIVE Arcade is now on par with buying designer jeans versus the jeans with no name that provide the same comfort at a cheaper price.  Are smaller developer studios being bitch slapped?  Strange Flavour is still the only developer to even attempt incorporating the Vision Camera beyond the “see my naked body” usage yet where’s the price love from Microsoft?

What say you all about how inconsistent the Xbox LIVE Arcade has become?  And how do you personally decide if an XBLA game is worth the points?

Deacon About Deacon
They call me "The Velvet Voice". I like sunshine, games and large amounts of money. I'm a Microsoft Xbox MVP and an Author. Check out the book about my journey through the gaming industry Press X to Reload and The Terribly Terrific Travels of Timber Timmins on Amazon.com. Support the site and buy 'em. Take a look at my About Me bio for more on me.

36 Comments

  1. There shouldn’t be any game over $10.Even the originals are much cheaper on a disk.Now if they released Jedi knight dark forces 2 i would pay since the original still goes for a mint and isn’t BC….grrrr

  2. hey its all about capitalism, i think worth should equal price, and somewhat based on effort, we do need to make a profit. for example, if you spend a year making a short crappy game, the price should be very low, if you spend a year making a very epic game, the price should be higher (no duh). but on XBLA nothing should be so freaking amazing it would be over $10….

  3. The problem with the arcade is that the games are non-transferable, and 90% of the games are garbage. Burn me once, your fault, burn me twice, my fault. Take Lumines for example… that was complete rip off. I can’t sell it, and I can’t even give it away. So basically I wasted my money.

    And in a REAL economy, you can buy sell trade, and prices naturally go down with time. But since it’s a closed economy and a rigid monopoly, there is no recourse for bad product. People have to pay full price, and take their chances that the features you get by unlocking the demo turns out to be worth the dough. Unfortunately 90% of it isn’t.

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