No Man's Sky, video game, box art, sky, UFO, dinosaur, trees

No Man’s Sky: no price too high?

With the announcement that No Man’s Sky is due to release at £50 in June, the subject of pricing rears its head again. Ben, the man of many opinions, gives his thoughts were on the matter.



Title overview
Name: No Man’s Sky
Developer: Hello Games
Publisher: Hello Games
Release date: June 2016
PEGI rating: Not listed
Genre: Action, adventure
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
More information: Official website

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Ben says…

Usually I would open something like this with a discussion about perceived value, market forces and demand / supply economics. In the case of No Man’s Sky however, it feels like there is something a little larger at play: it’s finally opened the debate around when an indie game isn’t an indie game anymore.

The anger towards the pricing seems to be that Hello Games and Sony are breaking an unwritten rule that titles made outside of a large studio (what constitutes ‘large’, by the way?) can’t be priced at higher than £20 – which is a nonsense when you think about it. This is a game that was announced over three years ago, which means it’s been in development for much longer. That’s maybe four years of these developer’s lives taken up, four years that included a flood which destroyed most of their work and four years without an end product to generate an income.

Can a title no longer be ‘indie’ if it goes above a certain price? Don’t be ridiculous. What it does do is make the point that price is no longer a differentiator between studio sizes. It’s something I’m glad about. I don’t want there to be boundaries in gaming. I want games to just be known as games. We don’t need to classify them. They are a massive, global entertainment industry which has just as much variety and depth as film, music and art. There are releases that cater for the audience that want a huge spectacle and there are releases that give the niche fans what they crave. Surely developers should be allowed to price their games as they choose?

Agreed, the games-buying market is quite entitled to have an opinion and expectation of price but by the same token so is the developer. It is they who have the transparency on costs, on future projects, income and – most importantly – the nature of the exclusivity deal with Sony. The distributor will have no doubt paid a sum up front, possibly a retainer and possibly and advance. Some of it may well need to be recovered. While a game may sell for £50, the developer will receive only a small portion after costs and other disbursements.

Then you have the price-versus-playtime angle. No Man’s Sky is a title designed to be played for well over fifty hours which, if you look at it that way, is a £1 per hour investment. Do you buy a coffee at least once a week? Then you’re already spending more on coffee than you would on this game. Everything is relative.

Finally is your personal perception of value. Everyone has a different way of calculating the value of something and its worth to them. You might use the pounds-per-hour method, or quality of experience, or maybe how often you can replay it. The important thing to remember is this: only you can decide what something is worth to you.

If you feel a game, downloadable content or anything else is too expensive don’t buy it. Wait until the price is right for you.

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4 thoughts on “No Man’s Sky: no price too high?”

  1. I’ve been following NMS since its announcement, and I entirely agree with you, particularly with the price/hours of amusement thing. This isn’t a little Indie platformer that lasts a few hours, and technically, if you’re going to be focusing on the exploration side of NMS, you could pay it non-stop for the rest of your life and not even come close to “finishing” the game. I wrote a piece about the whole “500 billion years”* thing, and whether that’s true or not is largely moot on account of nobody being around to check it, but it’s definitely going to rate pretty freakin’ high on the value for money scale.

    As for the work that’s gone into it, we’re talking some pretty impressive stuff, and Hello Games took a mahoosive risk devoting their time and energy to such an ambitious project. As much as I enjoy your CoDs etc, I’d much, much rather pay £50 for something unique and different than for the same type of thing being churned out year after year. I get that No Man’s Sky isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those of us who do like what it’s promising (and who appreciate the work, risks, etc), I think fifty quid’s pretty fair!

    * Apologies if this is a beach of netiquette, but if anybody’s interested, the 500 billion years thing is here:

    http://quicklytapx.com/2014/08/21/no-mans-sky-approaching-infinity/

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  2. I personally never buy games at full price and I haven’t decided if this game will be worth my time or not yet because I’m not a fan games like this. I’m going to wait and see what happens and if I decide that I want it I pretty sure I’ll find it for about $30 just like I do with every game that I purchase.

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  3. Compared to the other games out there I guess the price is not as bad but overall the pricing for games needs to be reduced considering that not everyone can afford such high priced games anymore.

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