Seems like EA had the same idea. The rampant expectation was that Family Game Night on Xbox Live Arcade would include all seven promised games for $15, maybe a budget-busting $20 at the most. So imagine our surprise and disappointment when the game was released for $10 per game, with only the first four games (Connect 4, Yahtzee, Battleship and Scrabble) available at launch.
The way it works is you download a free Family Game Night wrapper app and then purchase each game as a separate add-on. You can still get trial versions, as with every Arcade title, so at least you do have the choice to try before you buy.
On the one hand, you can't compare these directly to the board games since there are extra modes and rulesets that change the game dynamic - sort of like the "remixes" of classic arcade games we've started seeing these past few years. But you CAN compare these to retail versions of the same title.
The Wii version of Hasbro Family Game Night retails for $40, though you can find it as cheap as $30. The PS2 version will run you $16-20. Neither version includes Scrabble, but they're otherwise the same games you'll find in the Xbox Live Arcade version.
The Arcade version does include the option to redecorate your virtual game room, with the first four room themes available for free. And there's always the possibility we'll see more Hasbro games down the road (Clue and Stratego? Yes please!)
But there's still a $30-50 price differential here. I think EA/Hasbro made a grave mistake, particularly with the economy where it is. If they had made these games $5 each, there would be a lot less whining and a lot more buying. At that price, I would have even bought Microsoft points for my dad (who's on a fixed income) so he could play his grandson over Xbox Live. And possibly added copies of favorites for our 2nd Xbox 360, so we could play Battleship without having to shield our eyes while the other is placing pieces.
The point is that they could have made a lot more money on volume than what they would miss by pricing the games lower. And they'd get many more people on their Family Game Night platform who would be a lot more inclined to buy future game releases. Those of us who do buy anything will feel like we already overspent and thus be a lot less likely to purchase more games for it down the line.
It's possible (probable, I'd say) that these games will eventually see release as a retail boxed product, like they did on the Wii and PS2. I would suggest either passing on the games for now since there's likelihood of a sale, price drop or bundle. If you just can't wait (as in our case), hand pick your must-have games after trying the demos. Scrabble dropped off our must list when the demo showed it didn't have a single-player mode.
Yeah, it's better against a real opponent but it shouldn't be required - particularly at these prices.