The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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When did gaming get so expensive?

Evelyn+Pierce%2C+Graphics+Manager+%2F+The+Bucknellian
Evelyn Pierce, Graphics Manager / The Bucknellian

From the exhilarating lights and sounds of the arcade to the cozy comforts of my GameCube, to the sweat-inducing matches of Wii Sports to the adrenaline-fueled marathons of Black Ops 2 Zombies on my Xbox 360, and now to the fun with friends that satisfy me on my PlayStation, our generation has truly witnessed the evolution of video games and consoles in a unique light. But you know what ticks me off as someone who’s doing their absolute best to ball on a budget while attending this insanely expensive institution? The ever-increasing costs of video games. 

Sure, I understand that prices rise with inflation, but the exponential growth in gaming costs feels disproportionate. In the UK for example, the average amount spent on a single video game increased by 6.7 percent last year. Physical copies now cost around £36.47 (around $43 USD), while digital downloads average £15.19 (around $18 USD). And with the newest and most popular titles hitting $70, it’s no wonder that many gamers, myself included, are left feeling annoyed.

It’s important to acknowledge the significant effort and financial investment that goes into the development of video games. Teams of talented individuals pour countless hours into crafting immersive worlds, fine-tuning gameplay mechanics and pushing the boundaries of technology. However, despite this considerable investment, it often feels as though the benefits of their hard work are not fully passed on to the consumer. Instead, it seems that publishers prioritize maximizing profits, even at the expense of player satisfaction. 

While it’s understandable that companies need to turn a profit to sustain themselves, there’s a growing sense among gamers that they’re being shortchanged. The disconnect between the resources poured into game development and the final product’s pricing and quality is a source of frustration for many players. I recognize the value of supporting the gaming industry and its creative endeavors, but it’s disheartening when that support feels one-sided, with little consideration for the consumer’s experience.

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The average price for the newest and most popular games, such as Legend of Zelda, FIFA, COD MW2, God of War and Horizon Forbidden West, all hover around a staggering $70. It’s mind-boggling, frankly. As a student, time to just sit down and relax is already scarce, leaving me with little opportunity to enjoy gaming. This combined with the prices leaves me gravitating towards random solo adventure games or the competitive thrill of Rocket League (I’m determined to be one of those people who are actually good at it). Even indie games, which I view as a budget-friendly alternative, aren’t immune to the industry’s profit-driven tactics. Daily login rewards, loot boxes and DLC micro-purchases permeate the gaming landscape, extracting more and more from players with each transaction. The recent actions taken by China to ban certain monetization tactics in games, including those previously listed, speak volumes about the industry’s priorities

It’s disheartening to admit, but despite the immense effort poured into game development, the end result often feels like a bad deal for the consumer. The excessive prices rarely align with the quality of the product, especially when considering franchises like Call of Duty, FIFA and NBA 2K. Each new iteration promises gameplay improvements, yet they ultimately offer little beyond superficial changes. The recent price fluctuations, such as the PS5 costing around $800 for a while before dropping back down, only adds to the frustration.

Take, for example, the decline of the Battlefield franchise. Once a formidable rival to Call of Duty, Battlefield’s downfall can be attributed to rushed releases and unfinished products. FIFA, too, has fallen victim to its own success, churning out annual releases that offer little innovation while ignoring community feedback. 

Yearly games like NBA 2K22, 2K23, and 2K24 feel more like updates than substantial installments, yet they continue to command full-price purchases.

“Video games are becoming an increasingly expensive hobby, and what you’re essentially getting is all these repetitive expensive games that are straight up exploiting you,” observed Farhaj Shahid ’26.

As much as I hate to sound like one of those people who’s stuck in the past, I have a nostalgic longing for the days when video games felt fresh and innovative. Nowadays, it seems like we’re stuck in a cycle of regurgitated content, with prices skyrocketing for products that often fail to deliver on their promises. I hope that in the future, game developers can find a balance between quality and affordability, allowing gamers to once again experience the excitement and satisfaction of a well-crafted gaming experience without breaking the bank.

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