There Are Way Too Many Game Sales

Elitism is narrowing the worth of a game, to the point that a sale is becoming more insignificant.

By Daavpuke, Posted 10 Aug 2020

With some delays, companies are starting to push out major sale events again. PlayStation is having a Summer Sale, where the illustrious Final Fantasy VII Remake can be picked up at a discount. Meanwhile on PC, both Steam and GOG have QuakeCon banners for their specials. GOG additionally stacks a THQ Nordic sale above that. It's a good time to get games on the cheap right now.

Chances are, however, that you've been grabbing deals left and right already. There is always a sale selling something somewhere. Today it's Bethesda, a few weeks ago there was the Steam Summer Sale and literally just before that, Steam held a Game Festival that also prompted game discounts. Unless the game is brand new, these days it doesn't really serve anyone to buy a full price copy anymore. Even then, launch discounts happen regularly as well, usually comparable to the first time a game will be included in a sale. 

Steam, PlayStation, Game, Mega Sale, Game Deals

Third party sites additionally try to drum up interests to their specific side, by offering a marginal reduction that will make theirs the best deal. For instance, the recent release of Fairy Tail was a heightened €69.99, but getting it with a voucher at the Green Man Gaming store would bring it back down to standard pricing. Getting the best value for a game is such a task now that sites like IsThereAnyDeal will keep tabs on the wide net of prices. More so, there's also a list for the constant bundles of games, through companies like Fanatical and Indiegala or freebies handed out on the Epic Games Store and the Humble Store. Games will have free weekends or even brief periods where they remain free, for those who get in on time. Right now, Quake Champions is giving away all their heroes in their freemium model, to anyone who plays one match.

The devaluation of a game's worth has been going on for a while now; long enough that it has become standard. Full price games still sell, but there is definitely a disparity as to how many are still included in this occurrence. Something like Death Stranding or Horizon Zero Dawn have enough consumer awareness to be a day and date purchase, but that pedestal is shrinking for anything else that tries to get on it. Instead, other titles need to compete, not just with sales that deflate a games worth, but also a vastly increasing horde of free-to-play options who syphon buying power through free entry. If the game appears to be free, then it's easier to get into and eventually spend whatever feels right.

A part of the sale mentality is locked with psychology. Like the aforementioned Fairy Tail, buying it for more than the standard price doesn't seem palpable, but even just bringing it down to what other games are priced makes it seem more enticing. The full price of a game is no more than just a sales tactic now; a comparison to what it technically could be, but rarely still is. A game that gets a permanent price reduction doesn't sell as much as a game that appears to be a deal. Games get reductions when they're older, it's just that whatever the cost ends up being, it becomes the new standard for where the discount starts. The two tactics aren't equally effective, even if the costs end up the same. A race to the bottom is only causing revenue for the majority of game developers to decrease; it's not changing buyer habits.

Even more exasperating, the saturation of game sales have hit such a permanent state that they are no longer inhabiting as much consumer attention. The QuakeCon sale on Steam doesn't even break the top 20 of global sellers, leaving the Death Strandings and Horizon Zero Dawns atop. Not even price slashing seems enticing anymore, because it happens so often. Whatever game wins the word of mouth zeitgeist now, like the recently released Fall Guys, is the one that can sit on the throne. This attention-focused consumption further skews purchases to only one narrow type of games; those who are marketable, which is hardly a genre of its own. 

Especially for a crowd that would deem themselves critical, the gaming community is increasingly letting advertiser tricks do their thinking for them, leaving entire genres in the dark. Fandom and brand loyalty sell, while others need to, ever further, fight an uphill battle to even get noticed. The notion that someone "never even heard of this game" is becoming more common, because consumers are getting desensitized to looking for the potential games they might like. Instead, they let streamers decide for them, get told what to buy from advertisements or brand accounts. 

PSN, PlayStation, Game, Mega Sale, Game Deals

Elitism is narrowing the worth of a game, to the point that a sale is becoming more insignificant. Just increasing the amount of times discounts happen isn't even making a difference anymore. The worth of a game is just an idea now, more than it ever was before. With the coming generation and cost concerns, it's going to be a disquieting time for the industry. Certainly given that privileged companies are making production increasingly impossible with margins on their end, there's little breathing room left. 

If a price increase doesn't work and a reduction on its own doesn't work either, then what are the options left? Surely, the answer isn't more sale events. Rather, with removing the majority of sales and reducing prices in general, people could get accustomed to getting a game "cheaper" for its full cost. Doing so would allow more types of releases to be compared as equally worthy, instead of having to resort to trickery. There is, however, little or no incentive in a consumer market to do so, when the alternatives are still making bank.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed

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Publisher(s): NoobFeed
Developer(s): NoobFeed Editors
Genres: Artcile
Themes: Feature, Editorial, Interviews, Opinion Pieces
Release Date: 2009-02-14

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