With pre-orders for No Man’s Sky going live in the past week there’s been a lot of excitement going around, mine included. Of course, as with any big bit of video game news, not everyone is sharing in that anticipation, instead choosing to focus on the downsides despite not actually playing the game yet (for obvious reasons).
The price tag -a whopping $60 is to blame for the negative reactions. That, above all else, has plenty of people in sour moods. So who’s in the right here: the developers and publisher of the game, who’ve put their efforts into making and supporting the game, or the consumers, demanding it be cheaper.
That’s a tricky question and not one that I can say with 100% certainty that I can tackle from all angles since I’ve never developed a game. I do know, however, that it’s in line with recent trends, both in the indie game and the AAA scenes without even looking at any of the technical aspects.
With the rise of indie games it’s common to see titles commonly priced between $20-30, especially if the quality is high enough to warrant the price point or if the developers have built up enough hype prior to release. Most of the higher priced indie games tend to hold their own in my experience, and more often than not that price range tends to be acceptable. Still, it’s a heck of a lot more than we used to see good indie games going for.
The prices of AAA titles have also been on the rise as of late; it was but a year or two ago when buying digitally meant paying less, sometimes far less, than the physical counterparts. A quick look at games coming down the pipe this year, for example, shows that the price of manufacturing (or lack thereof) no longer factors into things, as the digital versions are going for the exact same price as the hard copies.
So yes, on average the prices have been going up regardless of what system games in general are sold on. In that respect the higher price point for No Man’s Sky, at the very least, makes logical sense. With that established, let’s take the quality into consideration.
To tell the truth, when I first learned of No Man’s Sky’s existence at last year’s E3 event it didn’t even register that it was an indie title. It looked beautiful and the promise of exploration and discovery made it feel like something more than what people typically associate with indie games, and to go along with that mindset I assumed the price would be the standard $70-80. I was wrong on both counts, which seems like a win from my perspective.
Along the same lines as how it looked and the promises that were made, there are some hefty behind the scenes costs associated with a game of that type. Anything that has that many uses making contributions to the galaxy and being in-game simultaneously requires some serious hardware to keep everything up and running. And this is one thing I can comment on with certainty since I have a background in computers: servers are expensive, and server farms are even more so. And it’s not unlikely that they’ve had to invest in a server farm of some kind to allow so many people to connect and contribute at the same time.
The higher than normal price tag is likely, at least in part, to fund and maintain the servers that the game will be running on. That seems like a small price to pay when you come to understand that without that, there isn’t any game at all.
So the reality is: yes, it’s expensive. But no, people should not be getting as up in arms as they are about the higher than average price. Between the quality of the game, which looks good, the market trends as of late, which have been creeping up as a whole, and the hardware factors, without which there would be no game to play, it’s a pretty reasonable price. Those who still think it’s too dang high? Wait for a sale, because you know eventually it’ll get some discounts of its own.