Campaign group Fairplay is asking all gamers to boycott computer and video games for one week in order to push down retail prices.

The scheme, which has been running from last Sunday and finishes this Sunday, is the group's way of encouraging buyers to hit out at the excessive costs of computer games, especially console titles which generally cost between £30 and £50.

Although on the face of it such a boycott seems unlikely to have any real impact, Fairplay points to the example set by Microsoft's Xbox which was slashed in price within a few months.

"Look at Microsoft: earlier this year it released the new Xbox console at £300, insisting it was a fair price and couldn't be sold any cheaper. Consumers refused to buy it and Microsoft quickly slashed the price — first to £200 and then to £160. In less than six months, the price of brand new game technology was halved through consumer power alone," reads the group's website.

But the main problem for the UK's software developers, which is highlighted by a DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) report, is the increasing gap between the cost of producing games and the price buyers are willing to pay for them.

"As platforms become more powerful and storage increases massively, so the expectations of consumers grow ever more demanding," says the report. "With a development project lasting up to 24 months with a team of around 20 to 30 costing £1-2m, small UK developers are increasingly stretched for both staff and funding."
The global games software industry was worth around £11bn at the end of 2001 according to figures from the DTI.