Press "Enter" to skip to content

Are all games worth at least a dollar?

I’m a cheap ass gamer. I make no apologies for it and I’ve praised the likes of cheap games before, but as I was browsing through the selection of Indie games on Xbox Live last night seeing all the $1 downloads, I asked myself if it’s possible that any game is worth a dollar.

Every game is worth at least a dollar, right?

This is clearly false. Some games aren’t even worth a dollar. I hate to poop on someone’s hard work, but some of the $1 (80MSP) games in the Indie selection are just bad. In some cases I’m sure they are someone’s first attempt at a game and they’re trying to earn a little something. That’s great, I understand that, but regardless of the price, a game is only worth paying for if it a) entertains and b) plays well.

JoyJoy: Whats going on here? I dunno, but its pretty.
JoyJoy: What's going on here? I dunno, but it's pretty.

I can’t comment on what’s entertaining, clearly my gaming likes and dislikes are different compared to many, but I’m willing to say that in most cases, game play is something that can be agreed upon by many gamers. Talking about “game play” in this manner, I’m talking about the whole of game play, not just the controls. So things like function expectations, response time, usability, accessibility, etc…all things that usually lead to something being entertaining. We’ve all played games that are of genres we like and think will be entertaining, only to find that the game is so poorly made or designed that it’s unplayable.

Head Shot 2: Shoot the bio-chemist! Quick!!
Head Shot 2: Shoot the bio-chemist! Quick!!

Pick-up games

But I digress. I’m not here to talk about games that suck…there are plenty to choose from. Instead I want to highlight some of the better $1 Indie titles I’ve found recently that are certainly worth four quarters. Why are the worth a dollar? Well, my criteria was pretty much if I wanted to continue to play the game after the trial period expired. If there is any inkling of motivation to want to continue, I’ll buy it for a dollar. Even if I only play it for a night, I figure it would cost me a dollar to play any arcade came for 15 minutes, so paying a dollar for something I get to keep forever and may possibly return to play again is worth it.

So if you’re burned out on your current stock of games but you don’t want to drop $15, $20 or $50 on a new game, here’s a short list of $1 titles that will keep you mildly entertained for a night or more.

A short list

Shoot 1UP

Shoot 1UP: Fast shmup fun
Shoot 1UP: Fast shmup fun

An arcade shmup that takes a unique spin by giving you extra ships regularly. Expand and contract your fleet to unleash crazy lasers.

Head Shot 2
If Nintendo believed in violence, this would be their next game. Find the cute “who are the people in your neighborhood” amongst the crowd and shoot ’em!

A dual-stick shooter that takes a very Enya-ish approach…but don’t think that means it’s easy. Lots of power-ups.


Qoccer: Cubes + Physics + Soccer
Qoccer: Cubes + Physics + Soccer

Don’t ask me how to pronounce it, but it’s the game of soccer played with little cube men. If you like physics (and have patience), give it a try.

If you remember Pipe Dream on the NES then you’ll know how to play this game. Connect the pipes before water rises to high.

Retrofit Overload
A vertical shmup along the likes of Galaga and Space Invaders…only faster. It can get pretty chaotic.

You will die
A game that says what it does. Another dual-stick shooter that is nothing but boss battles. But right now there’s even more incentive to play this game.

You can’t argue the price

There you go. Seven games you can add to your collection now and you’ll spend less than $10 for all of them. Each of them has a demo, so you can try before you buy, but really, it’s a dollar. Even if you only play it once, know that your lone dollar made a big difference to the person that made the game. If they’re only charging a dollar, they probably made the game because they’re gamers just trying to make fun games…and that’s something we all need to support.

Of course, if you have a few more extra dollars in your pocket, you can go all Daddy Warbucks and purchase a few $3 games. There are a lot of good ones in that price range as well.