Heading into the next-generation of game consoles, one of the big question marks is price – not just the prices of the consoles themselves, which Sony and Microsoft have both conveniently avoided talking about thus far, but also the prices of the games made for these machines. Several weeks ago, we got an indication that game prices might be on the rise in the next generation thanks to Take Two and NBA 2K21, which will be priced at $70 on both Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
That, as pretty much every gamer is already aware, is $10 more than the $60 asking price of current-generation games. That $60 price point isn’t just a product of this generation either, as games have cost $60 for a long time now. In other words, it seemed inevitable that we’d see a price increase at some point in the near future.
In a call with investors, however, Take Two CEO Strauss Zelnick indicated that his company may not be hard committing to a new $70 price point. “We’re definitely announcing pricing on a title by title basis,” Zelnick said during the call (as reported by Ars Technica). “I would just observe, there hasn’t been a frontline price increase for a very long time, although costs have increased significantly.” Zelnick went on to suggest that we’d see that $70 price point when the quality of a game “demands it.”
Similarly, Ubisoft hasn’t been willing to talk about next-generation game pricing beyond the games it has slated for launch this holiday season. Just a couple of weeks ago, Ubisoft said that its next-gen games launching in that holiday 2020 window would remain at $60, but when asked if the price would go up once we’re into 2021, the company said only that it was focusing on its Christmas releases.
While it’s true that game production costs have gone up – dramatically so in some instances – Zelnick focusing on only on a game’s upfront price when comparing development cost to potential earnings is a bit disingenuous. After all, upfront cost is rarely the only monetization method AAA games use these days, as many of them employ microtransactions and loot boxes to get players to spend more after launch.
Zelnick’s own games have come under fire for those microtransactions and loot box mechanics, with Take Two subsidiary 2K Games publishing an NBA 2K20 trailer last year that certainly had no reservations about equating loot boxes to gambling.
In short, Zelnick isn’t really giving a complete view of the situation when he only compares a game’s upfront price to its production costs, because major publishers have used a variety of monetization methods to make more money from their games. In any case, we’ll see what happens from here, but for now it seems that not all of Take Two’s games will hit that $70 price point in the next generation.