Pexels

Gaming is one of the most expensive hobbies out there. Not only do you have to drop hundreds of dollars on a console or a quality PC, you also need to pay up to $60 for any top tier games. Even with membership discounts and sales, those numbers can add up quickly. But the sad truth is, economically, video games should cost way more than they already do.

Let's get some perspective here. In 1990, NES cartridges were selling for $50. And in 1998, N64 games went for $70. If we adjust these prices for inflation, you would pay about $100 for these games today. One-hundred dollars. This means that your current games are underpriced by at least $40. However, the shortage is probably much more than that.

In the '90s, video games had very basic graphics and simple gameplay. Producing one of those games today probably wouldn't cost quite as much. However, as our technology has advanced, the gaming industry has had to keep up. Gamers expect more content, HD (and even 4K) graphics, involved storylines, voice acting and high-quality animations. Not to mention support and updates after launch. That's not even touching marketing budgets. It costs more to produce a game now than it ever has in the past.

But if games should cost more, why are they still $60 a pop? The market is keeping the price artificially low. Customers aren't likely to pay more than $60 for a game, even if it actually costs more money to produce one. This situation is why pre-order bonuses, DLC, and micro-transactions have become so popular and widespread. It is becoming increasingly harder to make a profit in the gaming industry. Developers have had to supplement their base game purchases with add-on content just to scrape by.

Pre-order bonuses give gamers a little something extra in-game on day one when they buy ahead of time. This often boosts profits slightly ahead of launch. They also lock in a certain percentage of sales. It gives publishers an indication of how many copies to manufacture and how many people will be downloading a digital copy.

Nowadays, almost every AAA game features some kind of extra downloadable content. Sometimes this is new weapons or maps for a shooter. Other times, it's an extended story piece. Creating DLC takes much less investment and allows developers to earn more cash on an existing property.

However, what is relatively new and unsettled territory is micro-transactions in a full-priced retail game. In the mobile market, free-to-play games that feature some kind of in-game shop are a dime a dozen. But this kind of model in a $60 game is still pretty controversial.

One example of a successful AAA game with micro-transactions is Overwatch. Players can enjoy the full cast of vibrant characters and maps with no additional charge. But to support future updates and server loads, players can purchase loot crates full of goodies. These goodies ultimately have no real impact on gameplay. They are mostly aesthetic skins and items for bragging rights. You can also slowly earn enough in-game currency to open loot crates by playing normally.

The gaming industry is struggling to keep up with constantly evolving technology and consumer purchasing habits. Developers and publishers have to sell more and more of each new title just to make a profit. This situation might explain why so many publishers re-cycle franchises into sequels so often, rather than taking the time and effort to develop new titles.

PayPath
Follow Us on

Afghan women

NBC

Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

Keep reading Show less

Stacker

Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.