DreamcastRIP wrote:I hardly think the rise in fuel costs would impact much on the cost per unit to manufacture a video game relative to the huge per unit cost savings of no longer using game cartridges.
Cartridges "not even remotely viable", huh? Better go tell that to Nintendo then after the DS sold over 150 million units and its cartridge-based games made them mountains of cash. They've persisted with cartridges for 3DS too (not flash memory-based carts like PS Vita, but proper carts) so claiming "cartridges are not even remotely viable" is rather wide of the mark. Unless you were referring to home consoles only that is, then you'd of course be correct.
I'm talking about the home consoles. That's where the major changes in DLC and distribution are taking place and where the big development costs are.
The thing about fuel is it does have a huge effect on distribution. Games don't magically arrive on shop shelves, they have to be transported. It all costs money and the costs are rising. It's not just fuel it's also wages, taxes, delivery fleet maintenance - all the hard costs that a business incurs. This is normally stuff totally outside the control of the games industry and why a digital sales model is very attractive to the publishers right now.
The change from expensive cartridge to cheap CD occurred about a decade ago. There was definitely money saved at that time and it was passed to the customer. But we're ten years further on and other costs have risen. Even the arrival of the mainstream, and therefore the ability to sell at a lower profit margin because there's a lot more customers, isn't enough to guarantee a profit. The money saved by abandoning cartridges probably isn't enough to offset all other cost rises nowadays. It was never going to do such a thing forever anyway. Not by a long way.
When you look at it the next big change is the digital distribution thing and the dropping of physical copies altogether. Assuming the industry wants to keep prices static. In theory we should see the savings passed on to us if the past is anything to go by. I don't have much faith on that one tbh.