Smash Bros creator Masahiro Sakurai thinks most games are pretty cheap, actually.
In the latest episode of his YouTube series Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games, the veteran game designer gives some very top-level thoughts on the price of games. Specifically, he doesn’t think they’re all that expensive when placed against the play potential of any given game. To Sakurai, and he’s very clear this is his own opinion and not that of his employer, he doesn’t feel there are many other forms of media that offer so much entertainment or fun for a single upfront price. He compares the price of other activities people do for fun, like going to the movies, going on holiday, or eating out — expensive prospects all — to reinforce his point.
It should be noted that Sakurai’s view of this topic is a unique one. He isn’t merely a consumer, he’s also a developer and part of a large, multinational publisher. He’s seen the process of designing, developing, marketing, shipping, and selling a major new game from the inside. Sakurai cites, correctly, that while the size of budgets and development teams in AAA has risen dramatically over the last two decades, the price of new games hasn’t moved all that much. Given all of these internal factors, Sakurai says he can’t help but think about how cheap games are.
He does, of course, cite US pricing for his examples. Here in Australia, we’re back to the godforsaken $110 price for new games of the mid-90s and 2000s, because our dollar might as well be printed on paperbark.
Sakurai also points to subscription-based streaming services as another example of cheap access to media, not just games. “There’s so much content, the fun never ends!” he jokes, before becoming more serious. “Things are great for consumers, but what’s it like for creators? There’s the joy of having your production costs covered, but also the pain of competing with older titles. It goes both ways.”
A funny, though likely unintentional aside: a lineup of subscription services for games includes Nintendo Switch Online, PlayStation Plus and Nvidia GeForce Now. Xbox Game Pass, arguably the largest and most well-known subscription platform for games, does not appear, continuing the grand tradition of Japan flat-out ignoring the Xbox.
Curious about your take here. Considering Sakurai’s position within the industry, do you think he’s right, and that games are cheap compared to the cost of creating them? Do you think he’s wrong and they’re way too expensive? Sound off in the comments below.
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