How much did games used to cost?

Fandraxx

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Hey all!

Strange question I had for some of the more seasoned vets amongst us: how much did a brand new game cost in the mid-to-late 90s/early 2000s?

Been doing some reading into how Interplay/Black Isle went under back in the early 2000s, in spite of the fact that they made so many great games (seems like a classic case of no one knowing how to balance a checkbook... or set reasonable deadlines) and figured it might be a bit easier to understand what the cash flows were like if I could figure out how much their games were actually bringing in.

For instance, Fallout apparently moved 120k units after a year, but as of now, I have no idea of figuring what that gross was like.

Doesn't have to be anything exact, just any sort of figure(s) that I could cobble together a rough estimate with.

Thanks!
 

JustKneller

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At that time, I was still a kid and didn't exactly have much income. I mostly only got video games for my birthday or christmas. When I did buy games, I usually didn't bother as of release but would wait about six months for a price drop. I think games ran $30-40 out the gates, and expansions would be maybe $20ish? But, I would get games for $20-30 with maybe $10-15 for expansions. I recall getting the original BG series with ToSC, I think all as one set, for under $30. I bought the first two Fallout games in a bundle for $20.
 

Alesia_BH

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This chart was published in 2002. It's a little hard to read, but it should be of interest. Shadows of Amn is entry 22, with domestic revenues of $9.63 million and 225,763 units sold, one year after release.
1.jpg


As for game prices versus inflation, I agree with Balrog99 that increased competition is likely a factor. Volume is, too. Shadows of Amn, for example, was a great success in 2000, with 225,763 units old. Compare that to Dragon Age: Origins' sales of 3.2 million in 2009. Surely Baldur's Gate 3's numbers will be larger still

Cheers,

A.
 

Fandraxx

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Thanks everyone! 40 bucks seems to be a pretty reasonable number. Far as I can tell, there were some differences between regions and whatnot, but it's good enough for government work.

In that case, considering Fallout sold about 120k units, it grossed about $4.8 million. It cost 3 million to make (assumedly not including things like rent/services, licensing and distribution, etc.), which is starting to explain a lot about why Interplay couldn't keep itself afloat...
 

JustKneller

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In that case, considering Fallout sold about 120k units, it grossed about $4.8 million. It cost 3 million to make (assumedly not including things like rent/services, licensing and distribution, etc.), which is starting to explain a lot about why Interplay couldn't keep itself afloat...
It's worth mentioning that Feargus Urqhart, who was running things over there, was a tad fiscally irresponsible. Allegedly, he had his wife and (minor) children on payroll for really no good reason. There were other allegations, but I honestly don't remember them at this point. I always found what happened with the Interplay/Black Isle split to be quite interesting, but not surprising (namely that Obsidian and inXile came out of it, and who is on each side).
 

Fandraxx

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63
It's worth mentioning that Feargus Urqhart, who was running things over there, was a tad fiscally irresponsible. Allegedly, he had his wife and (minor) children on payroll for really no good reason. There were other allegations, but I honestly don't remember them at this point. I always found what happened with the Interplay/Black Isle split to be quite interesting, but not surprising (namely that Obsidian and inXile came out of it, and who is on each side).
Honestly, in writing the script as of now, I was gonna include a line that I basically just assumed there was some sort of impropriety going on. I know a bit more about business then I wish I did (minor in college) and so much of what I've seen just seems... off.

I understand game dev is expensive, but a lot of Interplay's costs simply seem astronomical. 3 million for Fallout, 5 Million for Stonekeep? In 90s figures? I just sincerely have a hard time believing that was all going to dev.

David Brevik, lead on the first two Diablo games, once said the first game broke even after 20k units sold, meaning (using the same 40-ish dollar price point) that it cost about 800k. Even with the understanding that D1 was made in pretty lean circumstances, if a full-fledged game could be made for under a million... where was Interplay finding ways to more than quintuple that amount?
 
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