Paying for Pac-Man’s nonexistant production costs

A new round of old-school games is being released on Xbox Live Arcade, culminating in the long-awaited Street Fighter II. The fighting game will cost $10, which is too much but I can live with it. They’re doing a bit of work to add online functions and such.

But Galaga, Frogger and Pac-Man for $5 each? Are you kidding? There’s no production costs, as they’re 25-year-old games. There are no manufacturing costs; you can buy one of those joysticks that plugs into the TV and includes 5 or 10 old-school games for $12-$20, which is overpriced but at least there’s an object and a bunch of games you feel like you’re paying for. Microsoft had to add high score trackers, and maybe there’ll be a two-player option. But that’s so minimal, it doesn’t nearly justify $5 for what are probably ultimately 100kb game files, if that.

These games should be a buck each. That’s not even true micropayments, but it would be a start. We’re in a new world with the potential to put everything online. It’s time companies start treating the online world in a new way. Starting by acknowledging that all we’re buying is a tiny amount of information that carries essentially zero costs and that many of us have probably bought in some form or another before. Enough already.

— July 12, 2006

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