Dishonored: A Take on Video Game Pricing

Should there be a pricing benchmark for gaming?

Although I wanted to review Dishonored but it has been sometime since the game has released but there was an issue about the game nagging me which I wanted to shed light on. With a lot of critical acclaim and numerous “Game of the Year” nominations and awards, it would suggest that anyone who still hasn’t bought the game should. However, my issue lies here somewhat with the game itself and the price of admission to experience this Steam Punk-themed world plunged in plague and mutiny.

Here’s a small comparison with another great title which arrived close at the heels of Dishonored called Far Cry 3. The game although wasn’t included on many lists because of its release after most of the award nominations had been announced, but it also received critical acclaim universally as well.

Game (PC, PS3, XBX360)    Dishonored    Far Cry 3
Genre Action, Adventure Action, Adventure
Avg. Price  $ 59.99  $ 49.99
Sales (est. VGChartz) 2,430,000 4,320,000
Avg. Metacritic (Critics) 89.3 88.7
Avg. Metacritic (Users) 7.8 8.4
Hours Played 25 37
Revenue  $145,775,700  $ 215,956,800

The average Metacritic score from the critics’ standpoint suggest the games are almost similar if anyone wants to try, but the sales figures (thanks to VGChartz) and Users Ratings suggest FC3 is a far superior experience and far more successful financially as well. I, for one, do not believe that a $10 price difference would lead to almost twice the sales figure. Some can argue that Far Cry 3 is a sequel as compared to a new license, but still FC2 wasn’t nearly as much fun to excite players for a third round. After pre-ordering and completing both the games, I myself consider FC3 > Dishonored.

  1. Thematically both are very different, as is the individual art style
  2. FC3 is an open world, do-as-you-want game while Dishonored is as linear as they come
  3. Two endings for both games, but your actions matter in Dishonored but not so much in FC3
  4. You have skills and items to use to define your personal play style, be an action hero or a stealthy assassin
  5. FC3 offers multiplayer, but there is no multiplayer in Dishonored to speak of
  6. Both have released DLC post release

In terms of value for money, I feel FC3 far outdoes Dishonored irrespective of the quality of its multiplayer (the mixed reviews for FC3’s multiplayer). Dishonored has a world aching to be explored no doubt, but the setting players are offered snuffs any expectation players’ might have. The art style sticks out and is quite intriguing (I came across the game for the first time when I saw its wallpaper of The game offers two endings, based on whether you take the violent approach during your progress or you take a more subtle non-violent approach. You get a bag of tricks, some of which you have seen before while others are completely new. You can get very crafty with violent tactics but would struggle if you want to go for a silent non-violent approach. I feel that is a gross imbalance in the game when you offer two endings but not enough skills to take each approach. The story itself asks you to play along even when you know you’re being played by the other NPCs offering you missions to accomplish. Perhaps the single most memorable aspect of the game are the Tall Boys. They are perhaps one of the more interesting looking concepts for enemies in recent memory, and the achievement of a silent execution feels very satisfying once you jump on them from behind with your sword.

Although not done by Bethesda itself, Arkane Studios does enjoy the reputation Bethesda holds in the gaming industry. Dishonored is though a distant cousin of Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series which anyone would gladly pay the $59.99 price tag for (recently reduced to $39.99), which actually furthers questioning the rationale of video game pricing.

You can stay lost in the world of the Elder Scrolls series (over a 100+ hours worth of content) and play and replay as you fit to change your decisions and outcomes. Call of Duty offers a robust multiplayer which offers hours of gameplay and challenge once players are done with the campaign. Can we really compare Dishonored to an Elder Scrolls or Call of Duty? I think not. You can spend more than 40 hours playing FC3 as compared to the 20 odd hours you would play Dishonored for (And no I don’t think it holds that re-playability value for a second attempt at the game). Don’t get me wrong here, I am not trying to say that Dishonored is a bad game by any rights but I don’t think it deserves to command the $60 price of admission.

I think there needs to be a benchmark to price games, whether it is hours of gameplay or number of features, because games like Dishonored do not justify the price tag. And in any case now that I am out $110, I think I would want to know more about what the sequel offers now that Bethesda has confirmed creating a franchise around Dishonored. I don’t think Dishonored would give up its $60 mantle in its sequel, but Bethesda and Arkane would have to work harder to really impress players to make them cough up the price they demand when we get Dishonored 2.

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