Newest video games might all see a price hike of $10—making it $70 for major releases.
Last week, 2K Sports announced that it would raise the price of NBA 2K21 by $10 for next-generation video game consoles. This jump might signal an industry-wide trend of making full-release games $70 instead of $60. And while game publishers are free to set their own pricing, full-priced video games have cost $59.99 since 2005 when the Xbox 360 set the standard.
Now, as the industry revs up for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, along with all their shiny new games, consumers might have to plan for more strain on their wallets.
Is $70 a fair price?
Video games are one of the cheaper forms of entertainment when you consider them on a bang-for-your-buck, per-hour-of-entertainment-value basis. A $60 game, enjoyed over eight to 20 hours on the low end, is still a better value than a trip to the movies (if we ever get to do that again). Even at $70, a game is still a bargain in a money-time spent ratio. And games keep getting bigger, prettier, and more detailed (and waaay more expensive because of it)—but the price for the consumer has stayed the same for a decade and a half.
Compare that to the movies again. Movie tickets have only gotten more expensive over the last 15 years.
Video games aren't cheap to make. In 2005, the most popular games cost around $25-$35 million to make. In 2020, top-shelf games cost around $75-$100 million—and the real juggernauts cost upwards of $100-$150 million.
Jockeying For Higher Profits
In response to 2K Sports' price hike, outspoken gamers shared their outrage on social media. The $60 price tag has been somewhat of a sacred cow, and many saw it as an ill omen for the future.
But consumers have also decried alternate monetization forms in games, namely microtransactions. (For those not acquainted, microtransactions are a business model where users can purchase virtual goods with micropayments of real-world money. Often, these are random loot boxes, cosmetics, pay-to-win elements, or gated content.) Microtransactions allow some of the most popular games like Fortnite, League of Legends, and Overwatch to thrive financially while being free-to-play.
What seems to really irk gamers is when a game has both a hefty price tag AND microtransactions. But often those microtransactions are a way for studios to defray mounting development costs. Would a $70 price tag put the kibosh on microtransactions in full-price games?
New consoles promise new frontiers for gaming, but this generation is promising financial innovations too. Whether a new price tag or newfangled pay model will be good for the consumer is yet to be seen, and many developers are offering next-gen upgrades for their current releases for free. The game industry, and those that consume its products, have seen growing pains and shakeups in the post-COVID world. Here's hoping the bottom line will be good for everyone.
What are your thoughts on a $70 price tag for games? Comment and let us know!