Current Generation Gaming Actually Cheaper For Players Than Yesteryear
At a recent DICE panel called "A Renaissance of Gaming," two big names in the video game industry's history chimed in about how $60 for a new title is nowhere near as bad as the way things used to be.
During the panel (attended by Polygon), Mark Cerny, who started at Atari back in 1982 and was recently a lead architect of the PlayStation 4, tried to remind gaming audiences just how pricey gaming truly was. Cerny claimed that when arcade games cost a quarter to play for just a few minutes of game time, that paled in comparison to the current $60 business model. Cerny also stated that the free-to-play method of gameplay was something that both developers and consumers never thought would actually happen back in the 1980s.
Also at the panel was Eugene Jarvis, who created the arcade hit, Defender. Jarvis claimed that by the time it was first tested, the average quarter would only get you about 30 seconds of Defender gameplay. Cerny backed Jarvis' claims by saying that the economic design of arcades demanded they require many quarters to satiate the average player and yielded extremely short game times to keep players coming back for more.
Cerny also revealed that the arcades who would actually buy these game cabinets would need 20,000+ plays in order to yield a profit. As a result, games had to be short, losing frequently had to be a feature and games had to have people repeatedly looking for a quarter. Add in the large investment that went into each arcade game such as custom screens, hardware and designs, and the costs of making a new arcade game were astronomical compared to their 25-cent cost.
Just goes to show, things weren't always better in the '80s.