Take-Two says next-generation game price hikes won’t be universal

Take-Two Interactive Software hasn’t shied away from plans to sell next-generation video games for $70. But the company’s chief executive cautioned that not every Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 title will qualify for the premium pricing.

Speaking to investors on an earnings call on Monday, Take-Two chief Strauss Zelnick said the company will consider a $10 price hike on next-generation console games on a “title-by-title basis.” Zelnick didn’t say what might ultimately dictate which games will cost $70, but in an earlier interview with GamesIndustry.biz on Monday, he offered some clues at Take-Two’s calculus.

“The pricing has to reflect the quality of the experience,” Zelnick said. He added that the industry has kept a $60 game price point for a “really long time,” despite development costs increasing.

“It costs a great deal more to make those titles,” Zelnick said of the latest games.

There’s been an ongoing debate in the gaming industry over how much next-generation games could — and should — cost. Take-Two has already said that its upcoming NBA 2K21 will cost $70, up from the standard $60 price point its games sell for now, but Ubisoft has said that it doesn’t currently plan to increase its next-generation pricing. Microsoft hasn’t announced prices but has said that it will make all of its Xbox Game Studios titles, including Halo Infinite, available through its Xbox Game Pass subscription service.

Xbox chief Phil Spencer has acknowledged that next-generation development costs will rise, and developers may initially price their games higher but told The Washington Post last month that the market may ultimately dictate final prices.

“As an industry, we can price things whatever we want to price them, and the customer will decide what the right price is for them,” Spencer said. “I’m not negative on people setting a new price point for games because I know everybody’s going to drive their own decisions based on their own business needs. But gamers have more choice today than they ever have. In the end, I know the customer is in control of the price that they pay, and I trust that system.”

Sony’s PlayStation boss Shawn Layden was a bit more supportive of a possible price hike in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz last month.

“It’s been $59.99 since I started in this business, but the cost of games has gone up 10 times,” Layden said of game prices. “If you don’t have elasticity on the price point, but you have huge volatility on the cost line, the model becomes more difficult.”

For now, speculation abounds because prices are still unknown for the vast majority of upcoming games. But publishers won’t stay silent for long — both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are slated to launch this holiday season.

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