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Greed. One of the seven deadly sins. A simple five letters, yet no one seems to be able to talk about greed properly in the gaming world. We constantly hear about the greed of big companies like Microsoft and Sony due to their apparent desire to charge us out the ass for everything.
Early this week, news broke that Microsoft was raising the subscription fee of its Xbox Live Gold service by ten dollars, and the G word began to fly around. Microsoft is obviously driven by nothing but greed. They’re out to screw over the consumer.
I don’t think you understand what greed is.
To clear up what is probably going to be a huge source of contention anyway, I’m not happy about the price increase either. I don’t like when the price of anything is raised, and as a consumer, I’m always looking for the lowest price that I can get on any good or service. I wish gold memberships were free. I’m not crazy.
What bothers me, however, is that the popular buzz word in any video game industry price discussion has become “greed.” Game prices are the result of corporate greed. Charging more for gold memberships is greedy. Yes, there’s such a thing as corporate greed. Check out the financial industry in America. Yikes.
The problem is that greed has been tossed around so much that we’re starting to forget what actual greed is. Greed refers only to an extremely excessive desire for wealth, power, etc., especially one that leads to a gross overabundance of wealth, or leads to other crimes such as theft.
Are we really trying to say that increasing a yearly subscription fee by ten dollars demonstrates an extremely excessive desire for wealth?
The entire purpose of a business is to maximize its profits by providing a good or service. By many definitions, business is greed. The whole point is to accumulate wealth, and sometimes a hell of a lot of it. Corporate executives can become ridiculously wealthy, and their companies can grow to be huge. As we all know, Microsoft is just another example in a long list of similar stories. If you’d like Microsoft to instead operate as a non-profit organization, feel free to email them and ask. I’m sure they would be quite receptive.
Any time a company asks for more money for a product or service, it does so because the perceived value of the product has gone up. Sure, perceived value is not actual value, and the consumer might vehemently disagree on how much they’re actually getting for a certain price. But the fact remains that a company wouldn’t raise the price of something (barring inflation) unless it believed that its value supported that price. It’s simple business. And it’s not greed.
We’re quick to play the greed card because we don’t like paying more for things, and it just makes us look like bitchy little girls. Acting like bitchy little girls doesn’t get a company to reevaluate its pricing structure. It forces them to write us off because it’s so obvious that we have no idea what we’re talking about.
Instead, we need to develop some intelligent ways of discussing price increases, or we need to realize when to shut the hell up. If we want to be angry about paying ten bucks more for a gold membership, that’s fine. If the benefits afforded to you by the Xbox Live service aren’t enough to justify sixty dollars a year, say that. You’re not pointing toward greed here, you’re pointing toward a company’s failure to do the most basic thing that a company should do: provide you with a product at a value-appropriate price.
If I can afford a gold membership, I will pay it, because it is worth that price, and I understand that there isn’t some greedy corporation out there trying to screw its customers over.