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Businesses

Game Companies Face Hard Economic Choices 511

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that the proliferation of free or low-cost games on the Web and for phones limits how high the major game publishers can set prices, so makers are sometimes unable to charge enough to cover the cost of producing titles. The cost of making a game for the previous generation of machines was about $10 million, not including marketing. The cost of a game for the latest consoles is over twice that — $25 million is typical, and it can be much more. Reggie Fils-Aime, chief marketing officer for Nintendo of America, says publishers of games for its Wii console need to sell one million units of a game to turn a profit, but the majority of games, analysts said, sell no more than 150,000 copies. Developers would like to raise prices to cover development costs, but Mike McGarvey, former chief executive of Eidos and now an executive with OnLive, says that consumers have been looking at console games and saying, 'This is too expensive and there are too many choices.' Since makers cannot charge enough or sell enough games to cover the cost of producing most titles, video game makers have to hope for a blockbuster. 'The model as it exists is dying,' says McGarvey." As we discussed recently, OnLive is trying to change that by moving a big portion of the hardware requirements to the cloud. Of course, many doubt that such a task can be accomplished in a way that doesn't severely degrade gameplay, but it now appears that Sony is working on something similar as well.

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