2K was the first publisher to reveal the price of its first next-gen title, NBA 2K21, which surprised fans with the sudden price hike from $60/ £60 for the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the games, to the $69.99/ £64.99 price tag for the Xbox Series X and PS5.
But industry consultant Yoshio Osaki, CEO and president of games research firm IDG Consulting, says this is inevitable, and that gamers are actually better off than consumers of other forms of media because they haven't seen the base price of video games go up since 2005.
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"The last time that next-gen launch software pricing went up was in 2005 and 2006, when it went from $49.99 to $59.99 at the start of the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation. During that time, the costs and prices in other affiliated verticals have gone up."
Osaki compares game prices to that of cable TV packages, Netflix subscriptions, and cinema ticket prices, which have gone up by 105%, 100%, and 39% respectively over the same period of time. He adds:
"Even with the increase to $69.99 for next-gen, that price increase from 2005 to 2020 next-gen is only up 17%, far lower than the other comparisons."
Considering that the cost of making games has gone up by 200-300% since 2005, the flat rate (we're not including special editions etc) is long overdue an increase.
"While the cost of development and publishing have gone up, and pricing in other entertainment verticals has also gone up substantially, next-gen software pricing has not reflected these increases. $59.99 to $69.99 does not even cover these other cost increases completely, but does move it more in the proper direction."
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Osaki says that it's not just 2K looking to bump up PS5 and Xbox Series X games prices, saying that "other publishers are also exploring moving their next-gen pricing up on certain franchises" for the reasons outlined, and while not all of them will settle on $69.99, it's likely that this will be the new norm for big AAA titles.
It wasn't just the higher price of NBA 2K21 that ruffled feathers - the Mamba Forever Edition, which includes the game for both current and next-gen platforms in one console family, comes in at $99.99.
Some studios are offering their PS4 and Xbox One titles with free next-gen upgrades so gamers don't have to fork out twice to play the same game on the PS5 or Xbox Series X. Microsoft is also making a concerted effort to encourage this with its Smart Delivery programme, while Sony is leaving it up to the individual devs/ publishers.
While a $10 increase in the standard price of games isn't unreasonable, given they haven't gone up for over a decade, making people pay a premium to play a game they've already paid for on a current-gen platform seems to be the main sticking point. We'll have to wait and see how other publishers respond now that 2K has made the first move.
Source: GamesIndustry.biz (opens in new tab)