It’s a sentiment we here at XBLA Fans hear often:, “1200 is the new standard”. Everyone seems to think that XBLA pricing has increased over time, It appears to be a fairly accepted idea so there must be some truth to it, right? We took it upon ourselves to do some research to find out if it actually is the case or just a case of a shared perception becoming accepted as fact.

We looked at the pricing for all of the Xbox Live Arcade games released over the past three years. We wanted to know if 1200 really has become the standard, and if it hasn’t why does that appear to be the perception?

In 2009 there were a total of 91 games released, of those only 18 were priced at 1200 Microsoft Points. It is also worth noting this year saw the only example of 1600 point releases, of which there were four in total. In fact of the three years we are looking at here, 2009 has the biggest range of pricing. There were also 14 at 400 and 56 at 800.

In 2010 we saw 86 new XBLA games hit the marketplace and of those a total of 28 were 1200 points. This seems like a big increase from the previous year but when you consider 2010 lacked any 1600 points and less games overall were released, then the increase doesn’t seem as large. This is also the year we saw some free games released on the marketplace, three in total. The number of 800 and 400 point games did fail though with only 50 and 9 respectively.

2011 saw the most 1200 point games released but the increase was fairly small, jumping up to 29. It’s worth noting the number of games at 800 also saw an increase with 59 being released. Comparing these numbers we can see the average price has increased over time but not by a huge extent. 1200 is certainly far from the new standard price, if anything that’s 800, now more than ever.

We’d speculate that the reason everyone thinks 1200 is the new standard is because these bigger, or rather more hyped, titles tend to carry that premium price. The last couple of years of Summer of Arcade has largely been made up of 1200 point games. As such that’s the price point that has become expected when we see an especially ambitious or high production value game come out. In some cases it can even have the opposite effect, we recently saw AMY release with a 800 point price tag. When that price was announced it caused a little skepticism as AMY (in previews at least) seemed like it was a game that fit the premium price tag.

While it’s easy to bemoan the creeping price increase it’s hard to argue the games coming out aren’t worth it. One just has to look over our recent Game of the year awards to see the quality of games coming out on XBLA. It’s no coincidence that many of the games we highlighted launched at the 1200 MSP price point.

As an example we averaged up the Metacritic scores for the games in each price range. The results show that 1200 point games are generally the most critically acclaimed, averaging at around 75. The 800 and 400 point games averages are respectable but closer to the middle of the scale with 63.8 and 66 respectively. While this is by no means a definitive indication that 1200 point games are better, it is certainly suggests they are much more highly regarded.

It seems the perception of the 1200 point standard has grown because it is associated with the biggest and best releases. The prices are increasing because the quality of games on XBLA is increasing and that can only be a good thing.

Continue to:  Is Summer of Arcade Worth the Hype?

Return to: XBLA in Review 2011