Anyone with their ear to the ground has heard of The Culling by now. The quintessential battle-royal multiplayer experience been streamed by numerous high-profile personalities on Twitch and is making waves all over the internet. It’s a great looking game with a phenomenal gameplay loop that doesn’t ever seem to get old. It looks like a AAA game, which is why I was shocked to find out this morning that it’s available on Steam Early Access for the low price of $14.99. (Actually, it’s on sale for $13.49 at the moment.)
Sure, The Culling is a multiplayer-only game with just a couple different modes, but so was Evolve and it asked people for $59.99 on top of micro transactions on Day 1. The Culling already looks like a solid game comparable to Evolve even though it’s in Early Access and Xaviant, the developers behind The Culling, could’ve easily charged $30 – $60 for the game – which wouldn’t be a bad value prospect for multiplayer-focused gamers.
It was a nice surprise to see The Culling feasibly priced. Hell, if my laptop could run the game at a decent framerate I’d probably be playing it right now instead of writing this article. But The Culling’s price point isn’t the sole reason we’re here today, because there’s been another bit of video game pricing news that falls on the opposite end of the spectrum.
No Man’s Sky is $59.99?!
No Man’s Sky, one of the most hyped games of 2016, is getting a typical AAA release. When it comes out on June 21st, not only will the core game cost $59.99 but there will be a variety of “limited editions” ranging all the way up to $149.99. And, of course, there are a plethora of pre-order bonus incentives too.
To say this has struck the gaming community as odd would be an understatement. People quickly took to Reddit and various other social media outlets condemning the game’s price on the sole basis that it was created by a 15 man indie team and not a 1000+ person AAA development studio.
This idea is ludicrous and destructive to the games industry as a whole. To say indie games aren’t worth the same price tag as AAA games solely because of their development team/costs is idiocy at its finest. How the game was made shouldn’t matter. There have been plenty of AAA games that didn’t deserve a $60 price tag, and now we’re getting upset over an indie game that could possibly be well worth it?
To be fair, most people have gotten over the initial shock and seen reason, but there are still plenty of detractors.
Games are so subjective that what’s considered reasonably priced for one person could be astronomically expensive to another. There’s no guideline for how much a game should or shouldn’t cost, and if we’re going to start creating one we certainly shouldn’t play right into the hands of the AAA industry.
How many times have you spent $60 on a AAA game only to play it for a few hours before going back to Terraria, Minecraft, TF 2, CS:GO, Dota 2, LoL, or any of the other games you’ve spent hundreds of hours in after paying $30 or less? Personally, I think a game’s value should roughly correlate to the amount of time I get out of it. If every hour equates to a dollar then I’ve gotten my money’s worth. If I apply that logic to Stardew Valley, the latest smash hit indie game made by a single developer, it should cost $40 instead of $15.
Even that logic is flawed though. I’d say the original Bioshock is still worth $60 even though most people don’t get 60 hours of gameplay from it. There’s more to a game’s value than the amount of gameplay hours it offers, but that’s difficult to quantify so I settle for $1 = 1 hour.
Ultimately, something’s only ever worth what someone’s willing to pay. In the case of No Man’s Sky plenty of people are willing to pay $60, and many will be paying even more.
No Man’s Sky Isn’t Worth It to Me
I’m incredibly impressed with Hello Games’ technical achievement. The way they’ve built this incredibly massive virtual universe is nothing short of spectacular and could ultimately be quite game changing for the industry as a whole. That being said, No Man’s Sky’s behind-the-scenes tech demo was more interesting to me than anything I’ve seen from actual game.
Honestly, I was just as shocked at the pricing news as the next person and I don’t feel No Man’s Sky will be worth $60 at launch. I haven’t seen anything from the game’s promotional material that makes me feel like I’ll spend enough time in the game to warrant the price tag. It looks like a lesser form of Minecraft that’s more focused on exploration than actual gameplay.
I won’t be getting No Man’s Sky at launch for two reasons.
- The game costs too much to pick up blindly without waiting for reviews.
- The minimum system requirements are a hair above my laptop’s capabilities, which means I could probably get it to run but the framerate would be atrocious. (Not exactly what you want for a game that’s largely focused on aesthetic appeal.)
I’m not you though, and I do sincerely hope No Man’s Sky is a massive success that shows indie developers all over the world it’s okay to price their games fairly. Small independent developers are often the teams that push gaming forward and deliver some of the greatest gaming experiences we remember each year. Last year it was Undertale and this year Stardew Valley is already taking the PC gaming community by storm.
If you spend $60 on a game and feel like you got your money’s worth, whether you played it for 10 hours or 100, then it was a worthwhile purchase. I think No Man’s Sky is definitely going to be a worthwhile $60 purchase for a lot of people. I just know it’s not right for me.
Take the development team size/cost out of the equation, look at the promotional material and/or whatever critics you trust are saying about the game, then ask yourself if No Man’s Sky is right for you. It’s the best way to ensure you get the biggest bang for your buck and how you should make all of your gaming purchase decisions from here on out.