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Midway Experiments With Low-Priced Games

1 Mar, 2005 By: John Gaudiosi

NARC, which ships March 22, is part of a new less-than-$20 game trend.

LAS VEGAS — Midway Games is the latest video game publisher to experiment with $20 pricing for a new game.

Narc, which ships March 22 for Xbox and PlayStation 2, will have a $19.95 price tag. This follows in the experimental footsteps of Take-Two Interactive's ESPN video game line-up from last year, which sold well at $19.95 to compete directly with Electronic Arts.

Each game property offers a unique business opportunity, said Steve Allison, chief marketing officer, Midway Games, and Narc initially wasn't tracking as well as had been expected on consumer metrix sites like GameSpot.com and IGN.com. Since announcing the lower sellthrough price point, the consumer buzz and retailer pre-orders have risen sufficiently. Allison said the title will receive a solid marketing campaign including TV, print and online reach.

“We can still have a profit from this game at the $20 price point,” said Allison, who added that with the reduction in console hardware prices, more $20 titles will succeed in the market place.

“Price will play a factor in games with the mass market audience gravitating to current generation consoles in 2006, 2007 and 2008,” said Allison, who noted Sony's “Greatest Hits” games have sold well at $20, as new casual gamers take the plunge late into the console market.

Narc is a third-person perspective action game that re-invents the 1980s arcade game from Midway. Players assume the roles of Marcus Hill (voiced by Bill Bellamy), a Drug Enforcement Administration agent with a squeaky-clean image, and Jack Frozenski (voiced by Michael Madsen), a cop on probation and fresh out of rehab. Together they investigate a new mystery drug called Liquid Soul that has hit the streets. Ron Perlman (Hellboy) voices corrupt Capt. Ed Kowalski, and Michael Wincott (The Crow) brings drugpin Mr. Big to life.

The game is sure to attract media attention upon release, since it's the first video game to incorporate drug use into gameplay. As undercover cops, players can take any of the drugs found on the street and different drugs will open up limited strengths. Using speed will make the player faster for a short time, before hitting a wall. The more drugs are used, the more there's a chance of becoming an addict and getting kicked off the force.

Midway Arcade Treasures 3 is the next $19.95 title slated. That compilation of classic racing games such as San Francisco Rush, Hydro Thunder and Race Drivin' will ship this fall for GameCube, Xbox and PS2.

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