This is why the OP was not spouting 'socialist BS' but rather an accurate description of the world he/she lives in..
I appreciate how you feel, but 40 bucks is not much in a world where a fast food meal for 4 will be more than half of that figure.
40 bucks is not so inconsequential that it can be squandered recklessly, but anyone with the wherewithal to own a computer and a wifi connection probably has the ability to buy a few 40 dollar games per year.
Sure, sure. But ..
The personal computer market itself is shrinking (with the exception of high-end rigs, which is somewhere about 30% larger than it was ten years ago), with a lot of people skipping PCs altogether because they're an unnecessary expense in the era of iPhones and chromebooks. (source if you're interested) Far from being a sign of nuevo riche and money to spare, smartphones have become a swiss-army-knife stand-in for all sorts of good/services that unbundled costed a lot more money (TV, computer, phone (obviously), maps, and the rest). In fact, if you read any automotive blog or magazine you don't really have to read too much before you'll stumble upon an article talking about the 'problem' whereby millenials don't love cars. If you start looking into the issue on a deeper level one will find that smartphones have replaced cars - at least in the cultural sense - even though at face value the notion seems ridiculous - but the numbers speak for themselves. Phones are also much cheaper than PCs, if for no other reason than that you already have a phone because it's virtually impossible to function in society without one (unlike a car, or home internet - so long as you have a phone). Cars get you repair bills and court fees - especially if you can't really afford one, computers get you a $50/month internet bill without any benefit not already had by having a smartphone..
The fact that it costs $20 for four people to eat fast food doesn't mean that four people have an extra $20 to spend. The highest ratio of calories/dollars is found in fast food (and also junk foods at grocery stores). Sure these aren't good calories, but you have to eat something (and you also can't eat games from steam). There's a reason that poor neighborhoods are filled with fast-food restaurants - it's because this is the format that impoverished people can afford when it comes to calories. It also doesn't require the infrastructure (having a functioning kitchen for instance) or the time to cook a meal. Or the institutional knowledge of how to actually prepare food. There's a ton of literature on the problem of people who are impoverished being more or less institutionally mandated to eating fake food.. (at least in the US this is the case, I'm not sure how this all actually works in civilized countries..).
There are numerous surveys that bear out the dire and precarious nature of American's household balance sheets here and here for example, which pretty much keeps saying that the /average/ person is really poorly situated, financially (and probably shouldn't be buying computer games at all, tbh). Especially when one considers things like healthcare and college are increasingly so expensive that really, theoretically, there really shouldn't be any discretionary spending at all for a whole lot of people.
While I totally agree that a $40 expense is something that people should be able to manage here and there, those people really don't extend particularly far down the socioeconomic ladder. The whole industry is chasing the top 5% of households, because these are the ones with true disposable incomes - and it's crowded up there. Extend down the foodchain and you hit people with crap computers, then no computers pretty fast. (one of the open question I have about "high end PCs" is how much of this is an artifact of having so many totally crap PCs for sale that didn't exist in the 90's when every new PC ran things reasonably well?). There was a recent article on Bloomberg about millennials increasingly foregoing employment (I'm having trouble finding the article) - but basically the gist of it was that the (post-college) labor market is so competitive (or such crap, depending on your perspective) that they're too busy taking AP courses and the like to get a summer job. So even that top 5% with disposable income has a lot of people who aren't looking for deep immersive computer strategy games for /economic reasons/ - even though economically they're doing just fine (for now).
I mean, what's the market like for deep, immersive /board/ games these days? - I'd guess it's basically the same 100,000 people buying every single one of them on kickstarter. It's the same 100,000 people buying the cool computer games. It's really not a ton of people. Getting them to buy a $40 game is easy, same with the less well-heeled fans that already know they will like it (but may have to save up or work it into their budgets), but the marginal buyer who used buy it on a whim is increasingly scarce, and you have to try to outmaneuver everyone else in this marketplace (the AAA's with millions in advertising budgets, the consoles with their dedicated playerbase, the free games (League), etc) .
I'm really not sure what the answer is. I /wish/ more people could and would buy the types of games that I like, but it's definitely been a market in decline (apart from the recent crowdfunding and steam Renaissance, but it remains to be seen if this is a blip of pent up demand or an actual thing going forward (and I'm not even talking about SD games, my favorite games growing up were RPGs, so I was super stoked about Pillars and Torment, no one had made one of these in 10+ years)). Every market is pretty much having this problem right now. Movies all tend to lose money (I really don't understand /how/ but somehow they manage to), retail stores are all continually flirting with bankrupcy (and they're increasingly in empty malls), etc. Even successful outfits are one flop-release away from oblivion (for example, what happens to Sony if the PS5 is a total flop for some reason, or HBO can't find the next 'game of thrones' when the series wraps up?)..
Sure it seems like i9's and high end desktops are a bright spot - until you realize that the "market" for these are actually the high-end servers that the i9 customers order up at work with the corporate budget because they like their home PCs..
I really, really /want/ to agree with your sentiment - but it's just not what I see when I look out the window at the people walking by..
@tid242 It's a good thing communist countries have adopted more mixed capitalism otherwise they might have failed too.
If you actually read what I wrote, nowhere did I say that Socialism or Communism was a terrific idea that worked. What I did say was that Marx's critique of capitalism had a lot of merit, and the ideologies that we are currently married to (neoliberalism) does not have any useful answers to the mess we've made for ourselves.