Watch The Prices Change

The president of THQ thinks we’re going to see console games get distributed like PC games (and goodbye $60 box).  Ea is going Freemium.  Even with the massive Zynga downturn, it seems that the days of the $60-box-game-in-a-store is fading away.

Of course none of us are surprised, we probably saw it coming.  My guess is that the “fade” will pick up after this Christmas, and we’ll even see some titles start going pure DLC, dropping the box they were planned for.  We’ll also see more Freemium, more “try before you buy,” and all the general confusion that follows a shift in pricing plans.

Now I expect the changes are inevitable.  Gaming is a changing industry, technology is a changing industry, the world economy is staggering like a drunken sailor of the non-fuku variety, and people want to make money.

However, these changes, despite building on existing trends, are still going to seem a bit alien and are going to have some odd effects.  So here’s Steve’s takeaways:

  • Gamestop is clearly aware of this to judge by their promotion of the Nexus 7.  They’ll have to stay on top of gaming and on top of deals, probably becoming a kind of micro-Best Buy focused on gaming and entertainment.  I think they can make it, but they’ll have to change.  Career-wise, GameStop may need some savvy business people – and if they integrate with other companies, tech people as well.
  • Best Buy is pretty much hosed anyway, but I think that a move like this will make it tougher on them IF they’re even around long enough to be affected.
  • Though downloadable is fine and acceptable to people, the entire Freemium thing is going to be weird and hard to implement.  Frankly I’m expecting another round of pricing experiments in 2013, many of which will be stupid or fail.  This is an opportunity for you econogeeks to advise companies.
  • At some point the weird Freemium pricing is going to annoy people and there will be some “scandalettes” bouncing around the gaming industry about weird charges, ripoffs, exploitation, etc.  We have that now, but this will be more public because the gaming world is getting more public.
  • Eventually gaming is going go go away from physical media, and have to really blaze new trails in pricing.  These trails will be weird enough that establishing norms will be hard, and will take time (I think Freemium and it’s ilk have about 3-5 more years to get culturally normal without becoming an Intermittent Story In Gaming).

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach for professional and potentially professional geeks, fans, and otaku. He can be reached at