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The Expense of Video Games

Maia Williamson

The cost of living crisis - you hear about it all the time, don’t ya? Plaguing everybody and their mother’s lives. Who would've thought it would trickle down to childhood cherished memories...

Gaming Setup
Taken February 2016 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnybastard/25053450291 Photo from 'Jon' on Flickr Images - Free to Use

Video Games.

A cheeky reddit leak at the end of last year unveiled that the budget for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 game was $315 MILLION dollars. It is projected to sell 10.5 million units with a 35% return of investment, which would be a total profit of $75 million. The anticipated Spider-Man 3 (projected to release in 2028) is estimated to have a budget of $385 million and an expected 75% return on investment. (Parijat, 2023). What is the most shocking is that this is statistically standard for most AAA video games. 

That is a lot of moola. 

Spider-Man 2 Graphic
Photo supplied by Ryan Jones. Creative Commons License - Free To Use

With the recent announcement of GTA 6, there has been a lot of speculation regarding pricing for the game, rumors that have been slightly divisive. Given this is likely to be Rockstar’s best product yet, its development is predicted to cost $2 BILLION. (Unbelievable!). With that, it’s assumed that the game could cost upward of $150 on launch day (Beeler-Beistad, 2024).

The ever-escalating prices of these games begs the question - Is this likely to turn people away? How willing are gamers to pay rude numbers for great games? 

Turns out - it’s quite likely.

Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) have released research that shows Kiwis spent more than $716 million on gaming last year. That is an 18% increase from 2022. (Redman, 2024). Whether it be recreational gamers, those who stream on Twitch, or those who compete, people are spending hundreds and hundreds a year… AT LEAST.  This market is completely dominating our world, and seems to be trending sharply upwards. 75% of Kiwis play video games, and a large percent are breaking into the competitive space. Just at the tail end of last year, New Zealand sent a squad of 5 to the first ever in-person eFIBA world cup. 

Why is it that, despite significant price leaps, the market is only getting better, more addicting, and more substantial?

As the entire landscape of media evolves, games improve in their demographics, narrative and graphical quality and longer playtimes. (Henley, 2023). IGEA CEO Ron Curry’s thoughts are that “the value you’re getting for the dollar you spend is very good.” (Redman, 2024). While TV programs and movies only offer a linear amount of content, video games offer lots of lifetime in a game. In that sense, it’s rewarding and a never ending source of varying content.

It’s fascinating to witness how the gaming industry not only survives, but thrives amongst the financial woes of the world. Its resilience can be attributed to the constant thrill video games can provide, something that young kids and adults alike enjoy. Video games seem to be the new playground. But it does pose a concern - How far can this push? How expensive will be too expensive for eager Kiwi gamers? Questions that only time will answer.