Selling a video game in the typical boxed form with a $60 price tag is a broken model – according to 5th Cell boss Jeremiah Slaczka, unless your game is a massive success, you’re losing money. 5th Cell is known for developing DS hit Scribblenauts, as well as the shooter Hybrid, coming soon to XBLA.
Talking to GameInformer, Slaczka explains that with the increase costs of developing and marketing a video game, the current business model is no long realistic.
“The $60 boxed game is a broken model,” he claims. “It was always broken, it’s just more broken now because games cost so much to develop, produce and market.
“Before the model was tolerable, because the cost was reasonable enough to allow mediocre selling games to make money. Now it’s just insane. If you aren’t going to be a mega hit at $60, you might as well give up before you even try, because it’s tens of millions down the hole.”
Slaczka cites Homefront as one of these “mediocre” games, arguing that unlike an Activision-produced counterpart, it doesn’t warrant that kind of price.
“Homefront was an okay FPS – not great, not terrible, just okay. But as a consumer, why would I want to play an okay FPS when I can play a bunch of great FPS titles for the same price?
“While over 13 million people bought Black Ops last year in the US alone, smashing records, less than just one million people bought Homefront in the US. The consumer voted with their wallet, right?”
Slaczka argues that with a more flexible model, Homefront could have been more successful in making up their expenses.
“What if you could rent Homefront for $4.99 for 24 hours from your console? What if Homefront was only $30 dollars upfront for the single player and if you liked it you could buy the multiplayer for an additional $30?,” he suggested.
“All of the sudden it’s not a binary purchase option anymore.”
“That doesn’t mean all games have to go this route,” he added. “There’s still room for the AAA only, but a lot of titles should try a different method. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone involved.”
5th Cell’s Hybrid is due out next year, and Slaczka insists it has to be perfect to compete with competitors in the same genre, whether it’s $15 for XBLA or full retail price.