Downloadable Game Prices: Do Digitally Distributed Games Cost Too Much?

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Sony plans to have a huge selection of PSP games available for download from the PlayStation Store in time for the release of the PSPgo in October. That's fantastic, but they may to to spend some more time considering how to price these games.

The prevalence of 99 cent games on Apple's App Store may have given gamers unrealistic ideas about how much a downloadable game should cost, but there still seems to be something not quite right about the pricing of downloadable games, and it's not just something about the PlayStation Network.

Current Status

Currently, most digitally distributed games available on the PlayStation Network are priced a little lower than games you buy on UMD from a physical shop. The aim, however, is to achieve parity in game pricing. Sony has stated that when new games are released on both UMD and as downloads, the prices should be the same.

What's all the Fuss About?

Older games that are offered via the PlayStation Store, such as PSOne Classics and UMD Legacy titles, tend to be priced lower, just as older games on UMD have usually had one or more price drops. The recent release of Myst, though, demonstrates that this is not always the case. Myst is priced at $19.99 USD, the same price as the just-released Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman!. This might seem perfectly fair, as both as downloadable games released on the same day.

Except Myst is a port of a 16-year-old game. To be fair, the PSP version does include a level not released in the original game. But even that extra level, the Rime Age, is 9 years old, having been added to realMyst in 2000.

And it was also included in the DS version of the game, which was released in 2007. Also consider that Myst was released very recently for iPhone and iPod Touch, for a quarter of the price of the PSP version. Though it didn't include the Rime Age as the PSP version does, the price difference is still startling.

As for new games, should the price be the same if you're not getting the physical medium? How much does a disc and packaging add to the value of game, or is it really just packaging?
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