After playing an hour or so of Capcom’s new XBLA puzzler Flock, I got thinking about the psychology we bring to our digital purchases. Why do we baulk at paying $10 for a downloadable game yet we’ll happily fork out ten times that for a “proper” retail game?
Flock’s a bad example, I’ll admit. For a start, it’s 1200 Microsoft Points – or $19.20 of your real money points – which is higher than the norm for the service. It’s also a distinctly average game that I would find it hard to recommend no matter what it cost.
Browsing through the other 1200 Point titles, the only one I’d bite would be Braid. I want to play Castle Crashers or Banjo or Penny Arcade or R-Type, but 1200 Points seems too much. The weird thing is, I’m more likely to buy an 800 Point game I’m less interested in – such as Age of Booty or Galaga Legions – than a 1200 Point game I know I’d like.
It’s this same strange psychological barrier that finds me eager to grab Noby Noby Boy, but hesitate over the more expensive Echochrome, despite being well aware of which one I’ll spend more time with.
I get it looking through the Virtual Console range on the Wii as well. The NES games feel right at 500 Points, but 800 for a SNES game? I’ve bought Castlevania NES instead of Super Castlevania IV, even though I’m sure the latter would provide more enjoyment. What’s wrong with me?
It gets even worse when I compare these downloadable games to full retail releases. Twenty bucks for the hugely replayable Castle Crashers is, logically, a bargain when something like Wanted: Weapons Of Fate costs five times that. So why am I so reluctant?
Do you have this same psychological barrier when it comes to downloadable games pricing? What’s your sweet spot when it comes to XBLA or PSN games? And why do we treat downloadable games differently to boxed retail games when they’re very often just as good?