The value of games

"Who wants to play video games?"
"Who wants to play video games?" by JD Hancock (CC-BY)

It seems that video games have slowly been devaluating as an entertainment medium over the last couple of years. Before the App Store and Steam arrived, there was only two ways to play games: Buy a full-price physical copy or find a pirated version. With the advent of app stores, the highest grossing mobile games are now so-called "free"-to-play games and at least four times a year, there is yet another Steam sale with 80% discounts on tons of games for the more traditional PC, Mac (and Linux!) gamers.

When everything is free or extremely cheap all the time, it is understandable that a lot of gamers get used to free and cheap being the status quo. Combined with a somewhat unwritten rule that games have to keep us entertained for many hours to avoid being branded as "short", it must be tough being a traditional game developer these days.

I do not know exactly where I am going with this, but I just have this kind of sad feeling when thinking about how some people value games. For me, video games is the epitome of art, as it often combines exciting story-telling with beautiful visual aesthetics and amazing soundscapes. So when I see people complaining about a paid expansion or give bad Steam reviews because they finished a $10 game in two hours (I hope those same people complain about ticket prices at the movie theater), I hope it is just a vocal minority that feel this way.

If I ever created a video game (which is on my Life TODO List ™), I hope people would give it bad reviews if it was a bad game — not because it was not free or kept them entertained for 50 hours.

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