This Christmas season, there's a ridiculous number of good/great games for both regular and occasional gamers to choose from:
Spore, Fable 2, Dead Space, Fallout 3, Guitar Hero: World Tour, Far Cry 2, Saints Row 2, Portal: Still Alive, Rock Band 2, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Quantum of Solace, Tom Clancy's EndWar, Gears of War 2, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Call of Duty: World at War, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, Left 4 Dead, Need For Speed: Undercover, Tomb Raider: Underworld
... and that's just two months and one platform!
This strikes me as a year which is great for gamers and not so great for game makers. The competition is simply too thick (for 360 and PC games, at least).
In other industries, pricing would adjust to the crowded market. But in this industry?
PC game publishers are only recently learning to be fluid, it seems, despite their products having little resale value. Less than ten years ago, a game that offered ten hours of gameplay was priced the same as one offering fifty hours of gameplay, regardless of quality. The situation has improved somewhat since then, but prices are still determined more by publisher fiat than by the market.
The prices of console games are even less fluid, because each console's publishing is monopolized. Microsoft controls all prices on the 360, Sony all prices on the PS3, Nintendo all prices on the Wii. I could be wrong, but I don't think console developers can adjust the prices of their games without approval from these publishers. If so, it's a tragedy, since developers have far greater incentive to respond to the market than these publishers.
Is there reason to hope game pricing, particularly on consoles, will become more dynamic in the near future? What might lead to more variation in pricing?