Pay more for less?

The recently released Games On Demand feature for the Xbox 360 gives gamers the opportunity to purchase and download games from their Dashboard or PC to their 360 Hard Drive. One of the major talking points has unfortunately been the pricing of these games, all currently released titles costing £19.99 in UK (US $33.14) each.

Purchasing via Game on Demand allows you to download the game to your 360 Hard Drive. You do not receive a disc, a manual (you can download this online) or box. The game is locked to your gamertag or 360 which you are unable to transfer to another. This means that the game can not be resold or be lent to friends. The convenience of being able to purchase a game and have it downloaded to your 360 within a couple of hours and not having to change discs are strong points. Many people own a 20GB Hard Drive so free space may be limited, a few games can easily fill it up.

A brand new game from a store naturally gets you the disc, manual and box. The second hand market is generally good and you will usually receive the same but sometimes in a less than pristine state. They can both be used on any 360 and can be resold or lent to friends when needed. Purchasing a game online will mean a wait of a day or two while it is being delivered, not ideal if you have a sudden urge to play Burnout Paradise with some online friends at 7PM on a Friday night.

I have compiled a table listing twenty of the Games On Demand titles sold on the UK Marketplace and compared them with prices if you were to buy them brand new elsewhere online as well as second hand prices. A total cost has been calculated at the bottom of the table if you were to purchase all the titles. All brand new and second hand prices were correct and in stock at the time of compiling this data (13th August 2009). I did not do extensive shopping for the best price, more of a quick browse, you will likely find cheaper prices if you really shop around.

Game Marketplace Store (New) 2nd Hand
Meet the Robinsons £19.99 £15.65 (Shopto) £8.00 (CEX)
EA SPORTS FN 3 £19.99 £9.87 (Cool Shop) £7.44 (Amazon)
NFS: Most Wanted £19.99 £29.99 (Gameseek) £18.00 (CEX)
Burnout Paradise £19.99 £9.79 (Shopto) £9.79 (Shopto)
BF: Bad Company £19.99 £14.73 (The Hut) £14.73 (The Hut)
Kameo £19.99 £4.99 (Shopto) £4.52 (Amazon)
Perfect Dark Zero £19.99 £6.85 (Shopto) £4.00 (CEX)
Viva Piñata: TIP £19.99 £9.98 (Game) £9.98 (Game)
Tomb Raider:Legend £19.99 £7.79 (Simply Games) £4.98 (GAME)
SEGA Rally £19.99 £9.91 (Asda) £6.09 (Amazon)
MX vs. ATV: Untamed £19.99 £12.72 (Shopto) £12.72 (Shopto)
Rockstar Table Tennis £19.99 £10.97 (Amazon) £3.93 (Amazon)
Assassin’s Creed £19.99 £8.99 (Play) £8.99 (Play)
Mass Effect £19.99 £13.19 (Asda) £7.99 (Game Station)
Need for Speed™ Carbon £19.99 £16.79 (Simply Games) £6.42 (Amazon)
Oblivion £19.99 £14.73 (The Hut) £10.89 (Amazon)
Prey £19.99 £7.95 (Shopto) £3.50 (CEX)
Rainbow Six® Vegas £19.99 £8.95 (Game Collection) £6.94 (Amazon)
LEGO Star Wars: TCS £19.99 £15.83 (Blah DVD) £15.83 (Blah DVD)
Viva Piñata £19.99 £8.76 (Shopto) £7.00 (CEX)
TOTAL COST £399.80 £239.43 £171.74

In 19 of the 20 titles it is cheaper to purchase it brand new from an online store which will save you money ranging from 25% to 75% of the Marketplace price. Only one title; Need For Speed: Most Wanted on marketplace was cheaper than brand new online. If you like to slum it like me, the second hand prices were in the majority of cases over 50% cheaper.

The problem extends to pricing in other countries, take Mass Effect for example. I have used the US pricing of $19.99 as the benchmark. To purchase the game in UK is £19.99 which when converted is US $32.59. Australia is $99.95 which when converted to US is a staggering $81.95. The Euro zone price of €29.99 converted is US $42.18. Finally the Danish price of kr 299 converted is US $56.52.

So why the high prices by Microsoft? To be honest I have no idea why, Microsoft being greedy perhaps? Publishers in the past have blamed high game prices on piracy, so why when games are digitally delivered, locked to a 360 and cutting out the middleman are still more expensive than a game which can purchased elsewhere? Should it not be the other way round? You are effectively paying more for less.

You can make many comparisons with Xbox Originals when they were made available on the 360, you could easily purchase these old games from shops for as little as £1. Xbox Originals was eventually laid to rest due to lack of interest. At the current prices for Games On Demand I think it will head the same way. Don’t make the same mistake twice Microsoft!

Please let me know what you think of Games On Demand and the pricing structure. Have you or will you purchase from Games on Demand or will you continue to buy online?


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