This week Midway announced that it would release its new drug/crime drama game NARC at the price point of $19.95. This was a surprise to many, and follows on the footsteps of Sega and Take-Two's twenty dollar line of ESPN Sports games. This marks an interesting step in the industry where full premium quality games are being sold at a reduced price.
What's remarkable is that this is becoming more common all around the board. Most of Sony's mainline first-party games retail for only $40 instead of the $50 tag usually associated with new games. There are many games that have hit at lower points, but rarely the mainline titles.
While this may seem silly to some people, it's a simple economics issue many times. For instance, if you can make $10 a game at the $50 price point, or $3 dollars a game at the $20 price point, then you only need to sell four times the amount of games to make more money. If your marketing shows that that many games will be sold the lower price point vs. the higher one, you should price low in order to make the most money.
For a game like NARC, this makes sense. While the game looks interesting and intriguing, some might be skeptical of shelling out 50 bucks. But $20 to play a game that allows you to play the role of a narcotics officer and take drugs? That's going to draw in a lot of casual gamers out to pick up their weekly DVDs.
I really have been looking forward to NARC for a while anyone, it seems like it'll be an excellent experience that most gamers would've rented, but at this point, I could almost recommend just going and buying it right off the bat just from my time with it at press junkets. Twenty dollars is hard to beat.
I'm hopeful that in the future we'll see more games hitting low price points like this. As long as the market strongly supports solid games at low prices, we should see even more excellent games at low prices. That alone is almost reason enough to buy a copy of NARC.
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Gamers' Thumb is our weekly Video Game column.