Ever wondered how expensive computer games really are/were? One man to tackle this subject head on is Geoff Hanbury – founder of www.videogameshistory.com – a site that answers those questions and a quite a few more. I wanted to find out more about how videogameshistory.com came to be so I managed to catch Geoff for a quick chat…
What inspired you to start videogameshistory.com?
I was doing a research piece on how payment models are changing in the video games industry for a PR firm. They wanted information about how people actually pay for games as part of a report, but while researching that I found a bunch of data about historical pricing which I thought people might be interested in. While compiling that data, I decided it would be cool to compare how we used to buy games to how people buy games now with the freemium model.
How long did it take to compile (including research)?
I’d say 80% of the research took a just day or two as my Google-Fu is quite advanced. The other 20% took much longer as I had to dig through archived Sears catalogues from the 70s and 80s to find the prices of old games consoles at launch. As fun as it was to laugh at all the terrible 70s porn-staches the catalogue models had, it was a pretty frustrating and time consuming process!
The results shocked us here at Arcade Attack – do you think video game pricing is headed in the right direction?
I think a year or two ago, a lot of people in the industry were worried about the freemium model taking hold in bigger console games, but I don’t think we’ll ever see leading production houses adopt it. It’s simply unfeasible to try and introduce that sort of payment model to a series like GTA, so I’m not overly concerned about it.
That said, I do worry about the prevalence of in-game purchases, and whether they represent value for players, or whether it is just a cynical way to exploit the most hardcore fans of a game. There’s a massive difference between paying for an expansion pack, and paying $10 so your character can wear a fancy hat or something.
What are the biggest lessons that can be learned here?
I think that one of the biggest lessons we can learn is that quality always wins with gaming. Gamers, as a rule, are very informed and word-of-mouth is just as important in the community as reviews from big magazines. In the wake of Gamergate, perhaps even more so.
So it makes sense that we’re seeing such a backlash against crappy mobile games which are little more than money making ventures. Gamers want innovation and novelty in the games they play, including mobile games, so if the mobile sector is going to continue to grow we need more inventive developers pushing the medium forward, and less cynical money grabbers.
What was your first console?
The PlayStation 1
What’s your favourite console?
Probably also the PlayStation1!
Your first experience of anything is always going to be the best, and nothing can compete with the glee 14 year old me felt when he completed Croc or played Metal Gear Solid for the first time.
Also the games just felt so much cooler than N64 games. Crash Bandicoot kicks Banjo Tooie’s ass.
If you could share a few drinks with any video game character – who would you choose and why?
Duke Nukem! My nights out tend to spiral into a chaotic mess anyway, might as well bring a heavily armed wisecracker along for the ride too!
Thanks very much for your time Geoff!
You can visit the site here