As Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X prepare for their holiday-season launch, all eyes are on games — and how much they’ll cost.
Over the past few months, industry watchers, studio executives, and hardware makers have commented on next-generation game development costs. They all agree that games will cost more to make, thanks to their more sophisticated graphics and high-powered hardware, but they’ve taken different tacks on how to price them.
Some, like Take-Two Interactive, has said that games could — and perhaps, should — cost more when the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 launch. Ubisoft, however, has claimed game prices should remain static at $60.
Ultimately, there’s no clarity into how much next-generation games may cost, and players may face a hodgepodge of prices until developers can agree.
So, in a bid to keep the facts straight and provide players with insight into how much games will cost next generation, we’ve compiled the following guide to keep track of what developers are saying and how they ultimately plan to price their games.
Read on to learn more:
Current console game costs
Generally speaking, today’s console games across the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch cost $60.
When was the last time console game prices changed?
It’s been 18 years since game companies increased their prices. In 2002, the $50 game reigned supreme, and studios started boosting their prices to $60. Started is the operative word: It took a few years before the $60 price was universal. It’s possible studios could follow the same tack this generation and ease their way to a higher price.
Why are some studios saying they may hike prices?
Development costs could drive higher game prices this year.
“I think, to the extent that the technology enables the graphics side of it to become more interesting and life-like, [the games] will become slightly more human intensive and capital intensive to produce,” Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan told GamesIndustry.biz in an interview earlier this year, adding that there “probably will be an increase in development budgets.”
Still, “We don’t see it as being a massive increase,” Ryan added.
Sony PlayStation boss Shawn Layden also chimed in on a price hike last month in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, saying “the cost of games has gone up 10 times” over the nearly two decades games have been priced at $60.
While studios themselves haven’t put a price tag on how much more it’ll cost to make games for new consoles, Take-Two Interactive chief Strauss Zelnick said development costs on high-end titles continues to rise.
“It costs a great deal more to make those titles,” Zelnick said.
Take-Two Interactive has been the first major gaming company to say it’s at least planning to move to a $70 price point. So far, the company has only announced next-generation game pricing on NBA 2K21 and said it’ll charge $70 for the title.
On a recent earnings call with investors, Zelnick stopped short of saying all of Take-Two’s games will cost $70 and said the company plans to look at prices on a “title-by-title basis.”
“The pricing has to reflect the quality of the experience,” Zelnick said.
Ubisoft, which has several major titles planned for next-generation hardware, including Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, said it will stick to a $60 price point for the foreseeable future. However, CEO Yves Guillemot told investors that the company will only commit to the $60 price tag through the holidays. Beyond that, it may reevaluate.
Microsoft hasn’t announced pricing plans for next-generation games, but the company has said that all Xbox Game Studios titles, including Halo Infinite, will be available on Xbox Game Pass when they launch. For just $10 per month, in other words, Xbox Series X owners will be able to play all Xbox Game Studios games at launch.
On a recent earnings call, Activision Blizzard chief Bobby Kotick sidestepped questions about its next-generation pricing and said the company will share its plans “soon.”
EA CEO Andrew Wilson has similarly sidestepped any talk about his company’s pricing plans and said it would evaluate its pricing model “as time goes on.”
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