Xbox 360 games rip-off

With all the furore surrounding the dearth Xbox 360s in the UK, it's been easy to miss another important issue sidestepping the limelight – the cost o

With all the furore surrounding the dearth Xbox 360s in the UK, it's been easy to miss another important issue sidestepping the limelight – the cost of the games.

Ever since the dawn of consoles, the price point for games hasn't strayed much beyond the £40 mark, with retailers recently getting it down to £30. After a stroll into our high street store, though, Stuff made a disturbing discovery – nearly all the 360's games are £50, with only a few for a fiver less.

Further investigation on the net revealed that online prices of the console's launch line-up are also inflated. For example, the 360's Call of Duty 2 (above) is £40 on Amazon, compared to £30 for Fifa '06 on the original Xbox. That's better than the high street, but still a hefty premium for a schoolkid who hasn't even got a console to fill his Christmas stocking.

So, who's to blame for the hike in prices? A Microsoft spokesperson told us it certainly isn't them: 'I can confirm that Xbox does not set prices for games. Retail sets game pricing on a case-by-case basis. For example, special editions of games with added content are likely to carry a premium price point, and it's up to the market to decide if retail gets it right.'

However, they didn't poor cold water on the apparently retail-driven idea that next-gen games should be more expensive, adding: 'Xbox 360 games represent great value for the consumer – more lifelike worlds, more personalization, more Xbox Live content, all in high definition graphics and sound.'

Effectively, Microsoft's saying that for huge, detailed worlds like Call of Duty 2, you should expect to pay more bucks for your bangs. And it's not entirely unreasonable either – production costs for gaming development are spiralling, and analysts say next-gen games could even cost twice as much to make.

Naturally, this has generated a lot of support within the games industry to increase prices accordingly. Have developers used the fervour around the launch of a new console as a testing ground for your willingness to pay extra? It would seem so.

With the 360 the sole flag-bearer for next-gen gaming, it's likely that gamers willl stump up the cash. It's still possible, though, that once we exit the holiday season, we'll see prices drop a little.

After all, the pre-order prices for games on Amazon before the console launched were as low as £30. Throw in imminent competition from the PS3 and Nintendo Revolution, and next-gen games could yet get you change from a £50 note. Keep you're gaming fingers crossed.

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