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Epic calls for open pricing on next-gen consoles

Mike Capps urges Microsoft and Sony to give developers control over prices

Mike Capps, president of Epic Games, has called for Microsoft and Sony to facilitate price elasticity and new business models if they want their next consoles to be relevant.

In an interview with Develop, Capps explained that services and micro-transactions now dominate game revenue.

"Consoles need to start being comfortable with that," he said. "They need to be able to do something where small virtual items can be sold and bought for 20 cents without a long certification process and a price approval process."

"Right now we're not even allowed to change the prices of virtual content. We're not even allowed to set the prices. I just don't think this protectionist approach is going to be successful in a world where the price of virtual items changes on a day-today basis."

Capps suggested that rigid policies on the pricing of virtual items is "the best way of driving developers to PC," and that Valve's Steam distribution platform would be a good model for the level of freedom required of the next generation of consoles.

"Double-A games will never come back unless we get rid of this notion of a game being $60 or not released. The console manufacturers need to let this happen."

Capps also discussed the need for console technology to produce results that the consumer can immediately see, "is not possible on current consoles."

"And that's a very tall order. I mean, PlayStation 3 is still very bad-ass - Heavy Rain looks great. To blow that away we need the hardware to do it."

This echoes comments Capps made at GDC Europe, where he explained the significance Epic's next generation tech demo, The Samaritan.

"It was just a way of showing what consoles could do and putting it in front of console manufacturers and saying - please, we love you, please make it do this."

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Latest comments (3)

Jeffrey Ates Critic/Writer/Enthusiast 7 years ago
I completely agree with this since the proprietary pricing prevents any form of flexibility to make a piece of content and price it accordingly such as a skin compared to a map pack compared to a full expansion as well as the game its for (A COD expansion will be less scrutinized on price then an expansion for a game such as Payday or the upcoming Blacklight F2P) so pricing freedom would be a good idea.
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Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd7 years ago
100% in agreement
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Daniel Hinkles Management/Design 7 years ago
I don't know... I see where they are coming from and from a gamers point of view it would be awesome but from a niche indie developers view point I think it would cannibalise the market.

Being in complete control of pricing has pretty much killed the sales power of an app/game on Android and there's no reason to think the same wouldn't happen with a console. The risk's are already crazy high for games development, can you imagine the day where people say "I'm not willing to pay 40 for a AAA console game" or worse "I'm not willing to pay 20".

Niche products where you might sell 20,000 - 30,000 copies used to be enough to fund at the very least the next game but now if you sell those numbers at 69p, you're lucky if you made enough back to fund patches that again, you can't really charge for because they are already expected.

So I can see why a company like Epic would want this. They are focused heavily on mass market penetration and can afford to spend millions because they know their products already have a huge user base just by announcing that they are making a game. But for those of us without their deep pockets and even just for those of us that don't want to create shooters - the price fixing is a way that lets us get a niche game out for 5.99 on the PSN/XBLA without people thinking "That's a crazy high price when you compare it to the newest AAA title."

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