Star Wars Battlefront: How Do You Value a Game?

Star Wars Battlefront: How Do You Value a Game?

Games cost money. How do you square that with a game being a work of art?

Star Wars: Battlefront is out there in the wild now, with players having spent a week to plowing into EA DICE's adaptation of the Star Wars universe. The sentiment I've seen online is the the game feels good, it hits the Star Wars feeling spot-on, and... it's a bit lean. Battlefront is good, but there's the feeling that perhaps players aren't getting enough for their $60.

For some, shotting Vader is worth $60.

The value of a game is a hard thing to quantify. This is because a game is two things at the same time: a creative work of art and a product to be sold. You may waffle on the idea that Star Wars: Battlefront was ever the former, but as someone who spends a great deal of time talking to developers, I can assure you that those who worked on the game probably would disagree. Even beyond that, there are other players who have probably found a deeper, more meaningful connection to the title than you might have.

The experience we each have with a game is based on our preferences and past experiences. You may prize work from a specific developer, or developers from a specific region. You may enjoy or dislike a certain writer or artist. Perhaps you particularly love a property, like Kat does with Star Trek or I do with Assassin's Creed. Maybe you lean further on the side of appreciating technical aspects like resolution, framerate, textures, lighting, or whatever.

What I prize is not what you prize. There are certainly objective measures to be found - 30 frames per second is worse than 60 fps per second objectively - but you may not particularly care about those things. Perhaps fanservice is your thing, meaning you may overlook certain technical or gameplay issues. Maybe it's in the other direction, where that's a problem for you. Maybe you prefer first-person or third-person; I'm a third-person guy myself. For some, social proof is what's needed; if your friends play it, you play it.

This is the area we frequently fall afoul with as reviewers, because in the end, we're relaying our subjective views on a title to you. We're making an argument that game X falls somewhere on a spectrum that we think (or pretend) we share with others. It doesn't matter if your review system is out of 100, out of 10, out of 5, a buy/rent/don't buy, a binary yes/no, or even a straightforward recommendation; we just sort of hand-wave our differences to pool our collective opinions. Most people think X is good, others think it's bad. Like society in general.

That is the larger problem with discussing the value of a game on a monetary basis. It's fine to say what you would pay for a game, but we all carry a host of cognitive biases that determine how much we're willing to part with for a specific experience. That price is not always "correct", as it's completely divorced from things like how much the game cost to make. Part of why I take reviewing seriously is my recommendations to you may lead to your money being spent on a game. Money isn't infinite for most people. $60 isn't something many just part with on a whim. I want to give you enough information about my preferences and the game itself to make a solid purchasing decision.

A lot of this may make you go "duh, I know this Mike." I'm trying to explain why I occasionally bring up the fact that I think that a game may be worth $25 or $40 or full price. You may disagree with that assessment. I dig that. But like any review, that's mostly aligned with my personal preference; it's just another vector of recommendation. Some hate that, because they dislike thinking of games as a product, but they are. They're a product as much as they're a work of art.

Which brings us back around to Star Wars: Battlefront. I did a hands-on preview with the game. I played the game in beta. I really enjoyed my time with Battlefront both times, but I didn't really feel that it was worth spending $60 of my hard-earned money on. It felt like a $25-30 game to me and the fact that others have mentioned that they feel there's not enough content available says to me that I made the right decision. It also helps that we've entered the time of the year where it's easiest to find games at prices cheaper than their MSRP.

This really is a lot of words to ask: How do you assign monetary value to a game? Do you ever feel a game isn't worth the full $60? How do you value the games you enjoy?

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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