These days it seems all I hear are constant complaints about pricing for Xbox Live Arcade games. It’s always too expensive. We’ve all done it — looked at a game and said “I like it, but not for 1200 MSP!” Maybe it’s the recession we’re in, maybe it’s because we just don’t have extra points to spend, and maybe we’re just stingy. Still, maybe we’re right. But here’s the thing: maybe developers and publishers are right sometimes too. So where’s the middle? Where is that happy hunting ground where companies can make a profit and players can get the escapes they want at the price they’re willing to pay?
What you see above is an anomaly in my gamerscore — a game with every achievement unlocked. In fact that date you see, March 30, 2011, was the first time in two and the half years I’ve owned my 360 that I’ve ever achieved 100% completion on any game. I’m not a completionist, in fact, I’m probably the furthest thing from it. I’m what you might call a casualist. I play a game until I get bored with it. Lots of times I’ll beat the game and not go back for extra achievements; I don’t get the point.
Xbox Live Arcade is truly the premier platform when it comes to digital downloads on consoles. Now I don’t know all the reasons why, I just know that every Wednesday I’m glad I chose a 360 over a PlayStation 3 (not that there’s anything wrong with owning a PS3). Somehow Microsoft and other publishers find ways to bring some of the most enjoyable and innovative games on the market to XBLA, many times exclusively to the 360. But sometimes Xbox Live Arcade scares off developers and publishers. Why? Well, I’ve got opinions — a lot of opinions. I’ll try to trim it down to just a few. . .
It’s happened to all of us — we pick up a game we’ve been waiting to play only to find something horribly broken in it. Achievements don’t unlock, characters get stuck in walls, scripted events don’t fire, or at times even core gameplay feels off. It’s frustrating, and so often the issues kill sales for what could have potentially been a great game. So often our hopes lie in a patch, known on Xbox Live as a title update. But for some games that patch never comes.
Often when looking to buy a game I look up not only critic reviews, but comments from everyday users like you and me. We all do it. While the critics can give an overall “point scale” view of the game, it’s often family, friends, and even common folks on the internet who sway me one way or another on my purchase. That’s why XBLAFans reviews games as though it’s a recommendation from a friend; we want you to know whether to buy, try, or skip it.
Still, there’s one thing that bothers me: when people don’t actually demo a game. On the one hand there’s the age-old comment “I tried it for like two minutes and shut it off. The game sucks”. On the other hand there’s the “Dude, I really wish I’d tried the demo first. I’m out 800MSP and there’s no refunds on this crappy game!” So what’s a person to do? The answer is simple: actually try the demo or trial. Spend more than a few minutes in the game, and for heaven sakes, don’t make your buy or skip decision based on no-to-little time with the trial.