It’s pretty rare these days for me to write something here on the site, but hey, once in a blue moon, right?
With images circulating of the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 showing $69.99 US for the standard edition, it has led to gamers all over the world wondering if this next generation of video games is going to come with a permanent $10 increase to all full price games upon release.
And I’m here to tell you, that in the end, this is the right move.
For starters, we’ve been long overdue this increase. Games today if you count inflation, still cost less than what games used to cost during the Super Nintendo/SEGA Genesis era.
Keep in mind as well that the numbers above only adjust for inflation as of 2010, this is an older table. So we can make the case that a NES game could cost more than $100 US today through inflation. It’s very clear that games were priced higher back then, than they are today. We have been very fortunate for games to have not changed drastically in price over the course over nearly 30 years, with the price only going up once in that time period. Like I said, we’ve been well overdue.
At the same time, games are becoming more and more expensive to make as each new console generation pushes forward. And yet aside from a $10 increase during the Xbox 360/PS3 generation, that’s the only change we’ve seen in 30 years, when the industry as a whole have seen the costs of producing the games more than double in that same time period.
Now at the same time, we have indeed seen different tactics used by game companies to make up for this discrepancy in cost vs return value via sales. Microtransactions, loot boxes, season passes, all the things that we as gamers throw up in our mouths a little bit every time we hear these words spoken. And yes, these are indeed terrible practices done by companies who generally don’t give a rat’s ass about their customers, and are more concerned with squeezing every last dollar they can.
But…what if ever game sale they made carried another $10 with it?
If that extra money is in their pockets with each sale, would these companies continue these shady practices? If we’re talking EA…yeah they’d probably still do it in full. But would some companies actually stop these predatory practices? Or would they ease off a bit? How much? 25%? 50%?
I believe that for some developers and publishers, there would be an incentive to easing off, or straight up stopping the various “extra paid content” strategies used in games today. By having an extra cut off of each sale game, the pressure of making a larger profit through other sources would be in theory, reduced. While some companies will seek to use this as even more profits for their CEOs making millions every year, some companies will use this as a way to look better in the eyes of gamers by being a company that doesn’t milk its fanbase with every game.
And if there is a permanent $10 increase to all game sales, gamers themselves will be holding publishers and developers further under the microscope than ever before.
$10 on paper doesn’t seem like much. But in these tough times, $10 means a lot. And if you’re a gamer who buys a lot of games regularly, it’s not just $10, it’s several instances of an extra $10. Sure, console owners can still sell their copies and make back a sizable chunk of what they spent on the game (assuming they have a disc drive version of the console), but what about digital owners? As of right now, we know of zero ways that digital-only PS5 and Xbox Series X owners can get money back for their games that they don’t play anymore, not even just in cash, but store credit. That option isn’t available, which means every dollar spent if you’re not someone with loads of money to burn, you’re going to be watching and logging every dollar you spend.
Thus, if all games are to be $70 now, companies will need to tread very carefully with how they price other content outside of their full game. Microtransactions will be scrutinized even more than before, loot boxes will be vilified even more than before, season passes will look ridiculous on a game that just cost $10 more to purchase at launch.
Fighting games for example will really have to tread carefully if there games cost $70 at launch. How ridiculous will it look if Mortal Kombat 12 now costs $70 and still has a $20 season pass for a few extra characters over the span of 6 months? Practices like this will without a shadow of doubt be looked at as even more predatory than ever before and gamers will not hesitate to make their voices heard.
Because the reality is that we as gamers for whatever reason have allowed all these practices to stick around, and in some cases, fall for those traps. Why? You can make an argument that because games have remained as cheap as they are, while offering hours and hours more of gameplay (whether it’s good value or not is besides the point) than games 10, 20, 30 years ago. We laughed off the $3 horse armor in Oblivion and here we are, with people spending hundreds of dollars in games they already spent $60 on.
But if the industry collectively raises the price of all AAA games to $70 upon release, you know there will be a shitstorm within the gaming community. People will be furious, because it’s not a gradual change and evolution like microtransactions have been. This is a single-use change that would start immediately upon its use, there’s no “getting used to it over time”, it’s just “deal with it”. Some gamers will be okay with it, but many will not take this well.
Thus every terrible practices by the gaming industry will be looked at under a microscope even harder than before. Maybe with a $10 price increase, even the average sports gamer will look at the insane pricing for Ultimate Team currency, packs and players. Maybe fighting game players will think $5-$10 characters will be ridiculous. Maybe gamers playing “games as a service” games will ask themselves why they’re paying $30 on top of the full price game they bought 6 months ago, just to get another 2 weeks worth of content.
So despite my negative thoughts about the industry itself, I do believe that in the end, a $10 price increase for games will over time lead to a positive change for gaming as a whole. And for me personally, it doesn’t affect me that much right now anyways. I generally don’t buy games full price, hell the only game I pre-ordered this year was Cyberpunk 2077, and I got a 25% discount pre-ordering it on Amazon. Generally speaking, I don’t bother much with getting games on Day 1 anymore, I have enough of a backlog that I can wait 3-6 months for any game, so it drops down at least 25% down the road.
And when a $10 increase puts the spotlight even more directly onto companies within the industry that are notorious for making bad business practices to milk their customers, this should mean that the industry will have to make some changes, some concessions, as they won’t be able to hide behind the “games are expensive to make” excuse, now that games are being charged a more fair price.
Except for EA. We know they’ll never change.