Pricing in the gaming market is mostly static; a new AAA Game is $60, and an indie game is typically priced around $10 or 15. Indies sometimes experiment with other price points at $5 or less, or at the $20-30 mark, and mid-core titles and handheld ones hit $40, but there's not really a ton of mystery to what range a game will be priced at. The industry has mostly solidified its price points and looked into other areas for other revenue.
VR Games, however, are a whole new market. They are a section of games that release to early adopter enthusiasts who are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a peripheral to play them and get a new experience. Additionally, the market is experimenting and trying to learn about this format with the biggest shift since at least 3D in technologies. Just like the mid 90s featured a lot of uncertain steps towards 3D games in all genres, the VR situation has many of those same uncertainties, exasperated by the fact that it requires specialty hardware. It may come as little surprise that price point is another thing people are trying to figure out with VR Games.
On September 13, Insomniac Games (Ratchet and Clank, Sunset Overdrive, Song of the Deep), released their second Oculus Rift VR title, called Feral Rites. An Action-Adventure brawler, it was priced at a hefty $49.99, and this turned out to be a sticking point for many consumers. After listening to the community complaints, today Insomniac announced that they were dropping the price to $29.99 as its new base price, and it would be 66% off for the Oculus Fall sale through Tuesday, putting it temporarily at $9.99. Working with their publisher on the title, Oculus, they worked out a deal for those who had bought the game at the original asking price—namely that they would get 6 free VR games.
The titles include some of the better-known ones on the Rift and are as follows:
- AirMech Command
- Damaged Core
- Defense Grid VR
- Edge of Nowhere
- The Climb
Users can expect them in their library by Sunday September 18th if they had bought Feral Rites at its launch price.
Insomniac isn't the first company to run into this issue with pricing VR games. Owlchemy Labs, creator of the Vive exclusive Job Simulator released at $39.99 this year for those who didn't happen to get it as a pack-in with their Vive. A couple weeks after release, they announced that they were dropping the price to $29.99 as they had misread the market and explained that the game had been the work of a team of 15 over a year and a half. Owlchemy didn't have a list of games they could give out, instead they worked with Valve to enable refunds for all purchasers of Job Simulator, regardless of playtime or purchase date, so that those who wanted it at the cheaper price could get it at that.
Oh and if you were interested, here's a trailer of what Feral Rites looks like.
It's likely we'll see more attempts like this as we see companies explore the space and try to figure out how to handle the market as well as the technology properly. What the situation with both Feral Rites and Job Simulator show is that despite spending upwards of $800 US on a headset, consumers in the VR market are concerned with having value for games and that value is heavily influenced judgment wise on the rest of the industry's practices.
What do you think of Feral Rites' original price? Do you think that Insomniac and Oculus were right to lower it, and then put it on sale? Do you think the offer of free games is enough to assuage owners who invested heavily on launch? Share your thoughts in the comments below!