Editorial: Are the Call of Duty games over-priced?

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There’s no denying that the Call of Duty games are popular for a reason. Whether its the gripping, over-the-top storylines, the fluid gameplay or the completely addictive multiplayer, COD has managed to carve out a genre for itself, raking in the cash and adulation that its competitors can only dream about.

But the franchise hasn’t been without some criticism. Some people have likened the annual releases to glorified map-packs with a premium price-tag, or simply recycled stages with some new voice-acting thrown in and a tweaked story. So why are we paying so much then for a new Call of Duty game?

Now, for those of us who are savvy enough, the internet provides and specialised gaming stores have provided pre-order bonuses in the form of discounts, shaving quite a few rands of the recommended retail price.

But for those of us who aren’t so clued up, or a well-meaning relative, the price for such a game is more expensive than the usual titles occupying shelf space. You’re looking at a price of at least R620 to R700 for the latest COD game, and this isn’t a new thing.

Last year, Black Ops featured similar pricing, going for over R600 on a pre-order price. And while there is no doubt that the developers and studios worked hard and tirelessly on these games, is the inflated price tag justified?

Lets have a look at the competition. New games such as Batman Arkham City, Skyrim and Battlefield 3 will set you back just over R500 at the shops, decent prices for new games. So what’s the reasoning behind the pricing for COD?

Is it a long development time? It can’t be, because Infinity Ward and Sledge Hammer studios have had the benefit of being able to work with an existing gaming architecture, allowing for a quicker gestation period. Skyrim has been in development for around five years now, yet the price for it hasn’t gone overboard, unless you plan on buying the collectors edition.

It can’t be competition, because lets face it, COD is going to sell millions, despite what other studios and publishers can throw at it. It can’t be timing, because the window for the COD release was strategically picked to maximise sales. And compared to other games published by Activision, the prices stand out even more.

We understand that publishers need to make money, that’s how business works. But you’re not going to ensure loyal customers by overcharging them for a game, no matter how prestigious or anticipated it is. Such an attitude is wrong and disgusting, and can be harmful for the industry.

If Activision can get away with overcharging for a game, who’s going to stop EA from slapping an inflated cost on their next title, or Sony from squeezing out a few more bucks from gamers for a “AAA” game? 

All that’s going to happen, is that you’re going to see less and less dedicated gamers buying day one copies of games, with the majority seeking comfort in second hand sales, like a drunk hobo with boxed wine, further driving the industry into a cycle of expensive games and fewer sales.

We’ve managed to reach a point where gaming is more affordable now than it was ten years ago, but it looks like greed may just be sending us back to the stone ages of sales and logical pricing.

Last Updated: November 10, 2011

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia's M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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