Take-Two Interactive recently listed NBA 2K21 at $70, which is a ten-dollar price hike over the standard $60 pricing convention for Triple-A games, which Bethesda set in 2006 with the launch of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The steady price over a fifteen-year time span is abnormal as natural inflation for the USD has floated around 3%, with pressure from inflation alone, one would expect the price today to be closer to $90.
The steady $60 price is more of an indicator that is the limits of the elasticity of a video game and going higher would cause the customer base to shrink as people would rather save the money. Most companies have added additional ways to monetize their games with the addition of microtransactions, season passes, and multiple editions. This is something that Take-Two Interactive has become notorious for, as microtransactions now make up over half of their last quarterly profit.
In an earnings call, Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick stated that they will be announcing the price of each game on a per-title basis, as well he noted that the industry has not seen a baseline increase in price despite the production costs being at an all-time high; Which is true, Take-Two Interactive’s research and development costs have steadily increased since 2006 and jumped 21.44% since last year and SG&A expenses have gone up 5.9%. Take-Two Interactive has also seen a 21.15% net income increase this year.
Strauss Zelnick stressed that for a game to be priced at $70 the game will need to be extraordinary in its quality and expected performance. He commented that the NBA 2k franchise has recently outperformed his expectations. “With nearly endless replay value and many new additions and improvements only possible on next-generation consoles, we believe our updated suggested retail price fairly represents the value of NBA 2K21,” a 2k representative commented.
Other publishers are planning a price hike as well with the upcoming console generation as analysts are speculating that the current pricing will be unsustainable for the Triple-A market, even with increased revenue from the additional monetization methods. Although this speculation has been happening from 2012, and there is still worry about pricing out their customer base. Ubisoft recently had an earnings call as well. in that call CEO Yves Guillemot stated that their games released in the holiday season will remain at the standard $60 pricing, but didn’t clarify if that will be the case for the whole year.