In Spring 2010 Microsoft Game Studios plans to release "Game Room" functionality for Xbox LIVE and Games for Windows LIVE users. I've been reading through the details and I can't say I'm overly excited. Perhaps it's my age or it could be the fact that I don't see the value in the virtual "game cabinets," but I'm curious to see how this new venture will turn out.
Game Room Description:
Remember pumping quarters into your favorite video games at the classic arcade or passing the joystick between friends on the couch after school? Nothing could beat the sights and sounds of the arcade, with all the colorfully decorated cabinets, or the endless hours of console competition with friends, trumping the top score and mastering the machine.
This spring, “Game Room” on Xbox LIVE lets you relive the glory days of classic arcade games in their original forms. Your avatar will take part in the original sights, sounds and gameplay that will make these retro games come alive on your Xbox 360 and Windows-based PC in one fast, fun experience.
In a world where a search on Google for "Asteroids" or "Centipede" will turn up countless results that allow you to play either emulated versions of the games, or knock offs, what would make the average player want to spend their MS points other than a virtual representation of a cabinet? On top of that, compare the value to that of a common piece of DLC, or a Rock Band song, and where does it really stack up?
I enjoyed playing Asteroids, Centipede, Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and all the other classics... but where do they stand in the world of a modern-day gamer? I look for depth in games now and technological advancements. Frankly, I can't imagine spending more than 30 minutes on Asteroids when I have games like DarkSiders and Bayonetta waiting to be played. For those older gamers out there the nostalgic value of these games may win you over, but the price point may quickly turn you away. I'd think the primary market for re-released arcade games would be for those 30 and above. Now if you look at that demographic... I can't see the desire for them to want to customize a virtual arcade. I'd guess more along the lines of wanting to play on their lunch break at the office.
If we look at an arcade that consists of the titles I named above, the four games would cost a user $20.00 (400msp per) for cross platform functionality. For a single platform that number would be $12.00 (240msp per.) Now I'd like to throw out a few numbers that I've bounced around:
In a traditional arcade, $20 would get you a total of 80 play sessions, or 48 sessions for $12. The value of a digital copy in this regard would be economical, especially if you're a big fan of arcade games and want some variety. Now, moving on, I'd like to compare the price point to what you'd see in-stores in a typical "Arcade Collection." "Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection", a variety of 40 games, is obtainable for $20 dollars or less in stores. 40 games vs. 4 games is quite the contrast.
I'd also like to throw another comparison out there; here are some numbers on DLC for Dragon Age and Fable 2. The new "Return to Ostagar" DLC for Dragon Age will run for $5 and will most likely yield several hours of additional game play. Fable 2's "See the Future" DLC's price is $7 and also yields a couple hours of gameplay. Both have a much higher level of production value.
Lastly, a ZERO dollar price point is available if you choose to play via your PC using those search results Google yielded.
Will "Game Room" flop? What do you guys think? Does the value lie in the customization and social elements, or in the gameplay? Does it outweigh the cost? Thoughts?