So with the next generation of consoles nearing, the discussion around upping the full price of video games has flared up… again, with 2K Sports essentially leading the charge by raising the price of NBA 2K21 by $10 for PS5 and Xbox Series X with no free next-gen upgrade, in contrast to multiple announcements before this (Cyberpunk 2077 for example).
As one would expect, the initial reactions to this possibility weren’t exactly positive, partially due to which game is first affected, but also other factors like the current economic situation, employment rates and more. Not to mention many of the big publishers haven’t exactly garnered a lot of good will in terms of how they tried to make more money from games these recent years (need I say more than Battlefront 2?). On the strictly logical level, most things are affected by inflation, so prices rise to a certain extent slowly, but surely. In contrast to that, at least at first glance, “full-price” video games have stayed at a constant $60 for a rather long time. Of course once you go into detail, a lot has changed. Season passes, microtransactions, skins, DLC of all sorts…
Taking all these changes into account, I’m not really ok with a price hike if everything else stays the same, but then again I’m not too bothered by it either personally since I rarely buy games on full price anymore anyway. I wonder how it would/will affect sales numbers though, there’s definitely a portion of gamers that will limit their Day-1 purchases due to their spending power, though of course those people will likely not pick up a new console right away either. So immediate effects on sales numbers by this change may be pretty limited.
While some outlets argue that this increase might have a positive impact on crunchtime or wages for developers, this is an aspect that I do not believe. The industry has NOT earned that trust from me AT ALL, I am NOT going to give them the benefit of the doubt here and just pre-emptively pay them more for the CHANCE that the situation might improve. Give us proof that you can and will improve and I’m sure people will reward that, but we’re not here to pre-finance the change with the probability of an 8-Ball result.
It just makes my mind wonder, if AAA titles are so high cost that you need to raise the price, why exactly are you still doing them over and over again? Very often these are also coupled with messages of “very successful lauch” / “best launch in the series” etc. which makes me think that it’s less about the successful entries in that market, but more about the risk of making a game that doesn’t sell just as well. Personally, I don’t see why we as customers should shoulder all that risk instead of developers & publishers being more reasonable in their plans, like maybe making smaller titles that, if successful, can take some of the blow while also not hurting quite as much in case of a backfire.
These are just some thoughts of a gamer / consumer without insider knowledge, so I’m sure there are things I am not thinking of right now that might not make this a perfect alternative, it just seems overly simple to claim that there is no alternative to raising the price now. Especially in the wake of several titles being offered as free upgrades for the next generation (the most recent one being Far Cry 6 which was just leaked while I was writing this text… good timing). It just… doesn’t add up.