IDG President and CEO Yoshio Osaki spoke with GamesIndustry.biz about the future of next-gen game pricing. Citing the steep rise in-game production costs, Osaki reveals that multiple publishers are considering raising prices on their PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X titles. A similar sentiment was echoed by PlayStation boss Shawn Layden when he highlighted the stagnation in-game prices compared to rapidly growing production costs. Osaki notes that not all releases will be worthy of the price increase, but that overall change to the pricing of games is overdue. He compares it to other forms of entertainment, saying “cinema ticket prices have risen 39%, Netflix subscription costs have gone up 100%, and Cable TV packages have risen by 105%.”
His interview follows the news that NBA 2K21 will be priced at $69.99 for next-gen consoles, a $10 price hike. He defends this move saying “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.” Meanwhile, game production costs have increased from 200% to 300% depending on the IP, studio, and genre. The $59.99 price tag however has not budged since 2006 at the start of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 life cycles. This relationship between the two figures is what lead Layden to call AAA game production costs “unsustainable” if things didn’t change.
The missing layer in all of this though is the very real and hefty impact microtransactions have had on the game industry’s bottom line. Where retail price lacked, microtransactions were there to pick up the slack in more ways than one. A game like NBA 2K is notorious for what’s long been perceived as a pay-to-win format, with “recurrent consumer spending” making up 54% of their parent company Take-Two’s overall revenue for the quarter that ended on March 31st. Needless to say, they haven’t exactly been hurting from the lack of whatever revenue they’ll rake in from the $10 price hike. How fans of the NBA 2K series and consumers, in general, will react to a price change on next-gen titles remains to be seen.