With development costs getting higher and higher each passing year, games have now become too expensive, according to Mercurysteam's senior producer Dave Cox. That's why the developer is releasing its upcoming online 4v1 shooter-brawler title Raiders of the Broken Planet, which comes out this Friday (September 22nd) with a free prologue followed by at least four individual campaigns that cost just £10 each and can be played in any order.
"I do think games have become too expensive," Cox told MCV at this year's Gamescom. "£60 is a lot of money for a game. I have disposable income and spend money on games, but now I have to think twice about what I buy every year.
"But I understand why they're expensive because I'm on the other side of the fence. I know a lot of money is invested in games. Something like Mass Effect Andromeda has probably been in development for five or six years and there are hundreds of people working on it, so I do understand that, but for the customer at the end of the day, it's a lot to ask for a game.
"That's one of the things we thought about with Raiders. It's a great opportunity for us to go in at a reasonable price, and make it easier for the customer to buy into something like this. If they don't like it, that's totally cool. But if they like it, £9.99 is quite a low barrier to invest more into the game."
Indeed, Cox told us the studio did consider doing a full-price release followed by free campaign updates at regular intervals post-launch, but eventually decided against it.
"You could do it that way, but the thing about retail price of £60 is that it's a lot of money," he said. "I mean, even if we released it at £40, it's a lot of money. This way, we're able to potentially get revenue from players as we continue to build, because we see the game as a service rather than a final product.
"So although we've only announced four campaigns, we're actually working on more campaigns, and we want to continue to develop the game into more of a universe rather than a final boxed product, so that mentality meant, 'Let's put something in the market, if people invest in it, we use that money to reinvest it in the game.'"
That doesn't mean a boxed release is completely out of the question, though: "I won't say it hasn't come up in conversation and I won't say that there have been people that have approached us at Gamescom that asked us if we'd thought about it, but we're not focusing on it.
"We're focusing on a digital download, because that makes sense for us as a developer to be able to reach our audience directly. Boxed copies and all that kind of stuff, that's for other people, other companies, that's their business, it's not our business. But if it's something that the audience want, then we'll do it."
Raiders of the Broken Planet's free prologue and first campaign, Alien Myths, launches digitally this Friday on Steam, PS4 and Xbox One. To see the game in action, check out the trailer below: