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Software price is "key" barrier to entry for consumers

Sega's Darren Williams explains why the price of games must come down

The price of videogames needs to be reduced if the industry is to welcome in new audiences in a bid to become a genuinely mass market entertainment medium, according to Sega A&R's head of content Darren Williams.

Talking to at the London Games Festival's Games 3.0 event recently, Williams explained his view that software price points were one of the biggest challenges facing the industry in the next 12 months.

He explained that it's going to be increasingly important to find a way to "commoditise the high-def consoles" as Wii software price points continue to fall.

"I think the entire industry is hoping that Xbox 360 can find a way to broaden its appeal, to go mass market," he said. "But particularly everybody is waiting to see what PS3 can do. Can PS3 return to what the PlayStation 2 did in terms of installed base and the wider adoption of gaming?"

"Now, there are arguments for and against - I think there are still barriers to entry in the industry, and I don't think we're necessarily accepting of what those barriers are.

"You can obviously make a very simplistic argument about price, and obviously with the churn you have on hardware cycles we're pretty good in the industry - even though I guess a lot of fellow publishers might say otherwise - by accident or design we're pretty good at keeping our prices high.

He went on to point out that Xbox 360 and PS3 games are still seen as "luxury items" because of their GBP 30-45 price tags, which - despite any arguments over long term value for money - is still significantly more than DVD or even Blu-ray.

But Williams wouldn't be drawn on what he thought the cost of games should be: "So it's quite basic I suppose to say that price is a key thing, but I think trying to find a means of economies of scale, economies of production to a point where we can get price points... I'm not saying GBP 15 for a PS3 or 360 game, I'm sure our business analysts would have a much better idea of where that sweet spot it, but we still feel quite expensive - which means we remain in a ghetto."

The full interview with Darren Williams is available now.

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