Is Monument Valley Overpriced? Yes.


Monument Valley - the hyper-praised indie game from UsTwo - has just hit a bump in the road. It wants to charge users for new levels.

This particular review has been doing the rounds on Twitter.

Monument Valley Complaint

Yes, it's hyperbolic and ranty - but it is the absolute truth. Monument Valley is overpriced.

Now, don't get me wrong, it is a gorgeous game. Sure, it's a bit derivative of the Xbox hit Fez. There's no story to follow except for some cod-philosophy which tries its best to be deep, but ends up sounding like a teenage girl writing inspiration quotes over a picture of a dolphin. The sound design is subtle and compelling, the animations flawless, and the game mechanics are excellent.

It looks amazing. For an hour.

Monument Valley Screenshot-fs8

Seriously, I don't play many video games, but I sailed through in sixty minutes. At level 10 I found the first real challenge and then... poof! The game was over.

That does not represent good value for money. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it was pretty dreadful.

You user doesn't care how many people worked on the game. They don't care that proper sound design is expensive. They don't care that your landlord put up the rent on your swanky London studio.

We live in times of desperate austerity. When you say "well, it's only the price of a cup of coffee!" you utterly fail to realise that for many people Starbucks represents an unobtainable level of decadent spending.

People have hard lives. After working two jobs, slumped on an endless night bus home, they want relief from the pain and tedium of the working day. Pulling out an old phone - perhaps a hand-me-down, or one bought in happier times - they want to spend what little disposable income they have wisely. Something that gives them bang for their buck.

Transformers on Google Play

Renting a movie, like Transformers, works out at £1.30 per hour of enjoyment. Twice as cheap as Monument Valley.

Reading a book, knitting, chatting on the phone with a friend - all cheaper.

As the reviewer said - there are many games which are just as good looking as Monument Valley, with far longer play times. Often for free.

Earlier this year, I asked people what they thought of Monument Valley.

The last post, from my friend Kai is the one that interests me most. It speaks to a sense of entitlement that I think is prevalent within the creative industries (I include myself in that group). What we're doing is special - and deserves a special price. To most people, what we produce is fairly worthless, quickly consumed, and just as quickly forgotten.

It's like paying for a cocktail in a swanky bar - you're not really paying for the booze, the buzz, or the mixologist's time - you're paying for the entire experience. That's fine if you literally have money to waste - but for most people, it's just not worth it.

Monument Valley is a shallow game, priced at those people who value a delightful transitory experience rather than those who have a reasonable expectation of longevity.

4 thoughts on “Is Monument Valley Overpriced? Yes.

  1. Is it all about quantity though? Personally, I've replayed Monument Valley, got my dad to play (who's never played an iPad game in his life, bar helping my nephew play Thomas the Tank Engine memory games), showed my artist sisters, and thought about afterwards with great glee of how beautiful and calm it was.

    Sure, you could get two Transformers for the price of one Monument Valley, but let's face it, Transformers is shit. In the same way, I could get three Little Chef burgers for the price of one good quality, no-mystery-meat burger. Yes, I could support the behemoth King that created Candy Crush (and whatever other games they ripped off from small developers) and be nagged to buy goddamn gems every two levels, or I could support a smaller, funkier London-based company that is building something precious.

    I don't really buy into the "swanky" factor and my eyes nearly roll out of their sockets when I enter a London cocktail bar. I also agree that some games and apps are vastly overrated and overpriced. But I'm holding on to Monument Valley as one of those special games that made me smile and stop being jaded about games for an hour or two. :)

    1. Exactly. Things are *overpriced* and I just don't care, because it's worth the money for me. In fact, I'm happy that it's short. I get a lot more positivity in the time I have :-)

      This argument is stupid; sorry for even replying...

What do you reckon?

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