The video game market is in the midst of a change. With many companies testing different economic models, like EA’s online play tokens, THQ believes they have a way to deliver games at a reasonable price - as well as provide additional content to those interested.
THQ believes that, eventually, games could be released for free - with in-game purchases inflating the price tag.
THQ’s CEO Brian Farrell, is the strongest proponent of this new hybrid-model, being rolled out with next year’s MX vs. ATV game. Seeing that games like MX vs. ATV deliver better sales numbers later in their release cycles (i.e. once the price drops), THQ plans to capitalize on that idea early:
"When we lower the price to a mass market price the thing really jumps... So what we're doing this time is we're coming out initially with a smaller game at a lower price point - the $29 to $39 range. We're then doing a download model for different modes, different tracks, different vehicles. It's what we call a hybrid - it's a bit of the microtransaction and DLC model.”
In essence, when gamers purchase a game from THQ they will be receiving a bare bones copy with minimal content. If they enjoy the game experience, they will then have the option of forking over more cash to secure more content. Instead of starting out with a full retail game, a smaller more streamlined version of the game will be available at launch.
To me this seems like a way for game publishers to boost the price tag on games without touting it as such. Farrell’s belief is that those gamers who only want to spend $30 on the game will do so but those who are really enjoying the experience will end up grabbing all the content they can totaling upwards of $100. To me, that sounds like dangling what used to be in-game content in front of gamers’ faces in an attempt to coerce more cash out of them.
There is currently no word on how substantial the included content will be, with regard to MX vs. ATV, so I reserve judgment until the game releases - but, as a concept, I don’t see this idea working. It might ensure that gamers receive a quality product with more frequent DLC, but it also opens up the possibility of developing a full game and then removing items to hold for download later. If nothing else, THQ certainly has some interesting ideas.
What do you think of THQ’s play to lower the cost of games at launch while supplying added content for a price later?