Namco: ‘We must change the price of games’

The industry must work together to address falling software sales by changing the way games are priced and sold.

That’s according to Namco Bandai Partners’ vice president and head of sales and marketing Olivier Comte.

Speaking to MCV at the publisher’s recent Level Up showcase in Barcelona, Comte said publishers are racing to find secondary business models to support retail sales.

Possibilities include selling games at reduced prices, delivering them episodically – and even lobbying format holders to address licensing costs for console and handheld titles.

I feel all the big video game companies need to join together in a worldwide summit to discuss the future of our industry. I think we have to pull our thoughts together,” he told MCV.

If you compare [games] to music, music has two ways to make money – sales of disc, which is decreasing, and concert tickets, which are increasing so there’s another source of revenue for the artist. Film has a similar situation, there is the disc and the cinema.

Games just have one model, the sale of the product either as a box or a digital download. So we need to think about how we can develop a secondary business model.”

DLC is the obvious route and it can help bring down the price of games and make them more attractive to consumers, he added.

I am convinced that in the future we must change the price of video games – they’re too expensive for the audience. With the cost of development and the retail margins, 40 is a fair price [to us], but for the consumer it is too much.

From September to December there are three new blockbusters every week, and consumers just can’t afford to buy all that.

A good price of a game should be around 20 – but for this price we can’t make a ten to 15-hour adventure. So for 20 we should offer consumers four to five hours of gameplay, then after that we can make additional money with DLC.”

Comte also said format holders such as Nintendo have a part to play in helping publishers move on to new business models.

He explained: We need to discuss with first parties about the huge difficulties behind the current retail system.

It is impossible for a publisher to make money on a DS game, for example, that goes on sale for 15. We have to sell that game to retail for lower than that, we have to pay all the marketing, production and distribution costs.
This just isn’t a viable business model.”

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