PS5 And Xbox Series X Games Will Cost $100 A Pop

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Image: Ubisoft
Image: Ubisoft

Publishers have made plenty of noise already about the cost of developing for the PS5 and Xbox Series X. And in Australia it looks like everyone’s settling in at $100 for their next-gen AAA titles.

There’s been plenty of chatter already about whether next-gen titles are going to come with a small price bump to pay for the expected increase in development. 2K were first out of the gate, announcing that the next-gen versions of NBA 2K would ship for $US69.99 – which in publisher maths translates to $100 here.

And where the juggernaut of NBA 2K goes, many follow. Checking retailer pages this morning reveals that other publishers – particularly Ubisoft – are targeting the $100 price point for their AAA titles. Games not sold as big-budget experiences, like the re-release of Planet Coaster: Console Edition, are going for a more regular $79, while Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is priced at $59,

ps5 games
Image: JB Hi-Fi

EB Games are known for their high RRPs, but The Gamesmen are following suit. The PS5 edition of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is going for a staggering $120, while the PS5 re-release of Overcooked is shipping for a sizeable $80.

ps5 games
Image: The Gamesmen

Part of the reason for the price increase is historical stagnation in the cost of new video games. Yoshio Osaki, the CEO and president of IDG Consulting, said in July that the cost of producing a game for the next-generation had soared by 200 to 300 per cent, even though game prices remained unchanged since the Xbox 360 and PS3 days.

“While the cost of development and publishing have gone up, and pricing in other entertainment verticals has also gone up substantially, next-gen software pricing has not reflected these increases,” Osaki told Gamesindustry. “$US59.99 to $US69.99 does not even cover these other cost increases completely, but does move it more in the proper direction.”

Of course, none of this comes as any comfort to people who have found themselves without a job amidst the global recession. Even in Australia, where games are typically sold for $69 – and some titles, like Fallout 76, went for closer to $50 at launch – the prospect of having to pay another $10 or $20 isn’t ideal for anyone whose budget and savings have been heavily squeezed throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s especially the case when you consider some of the games, like NBA 2K, are charging a much higher premium without dialling back the egregious, casino-like microtransactions that come with it. And that’s with NBA 2K being even more expensive by default – the base edition is going for $109.95 locally, or $149.95 if you want the “Mamba Forever” Kobe Bryant cover, and all the various virtual currencies, virtual Gatorade boosts and skill boosts to basically blaze your way through the game’s singleplayer career.

Now, of course, these prices are all operating in a bit of a vacuum. For one, there isn’t a whole lot of other titles to drive competition amongst all of the publishers, so it’s easy to charge a higher premium. But will that still be the same case come November, when Ubisoft has to push Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla up against Cyberpunk 2077? If Cyberpunk absolutely slays out of the gate – which a cursory look at CD Projekt Red’s stock price or investor reports indicates it probably will – then $US79 or $100 might not be such a reasonable price.

Alternatively, Aussie retailers might just take things into their own hands and discount PS5 and Xbox Series X games aggressively. $68 or $69 has been the standard this year, but even games like Fallout 4 were discounted to $59 before launch, which is insane when talking about a game successful enough to ship 12 million copies in a single day.

Still, at least in the initial phases, get ready for everything related to the next-gen consoles to cost a ton. We already know manufacturing costs for the consoles have spiked. And with the coronavirus pandemic forcing delays and making development even more expensive than it was already going to be, publishers and developers are going to recoup that costs one way or another. Typically, that means higher prices, microtransactions and/or battle passes, but if we’re all being realistic, it’s probably all of them at once.

Comments

  • Games have been generally the same price for a long time now. We have been far too lucky, for far too long, they havent gone up many times before.

    • Yeah that’s true. I personally dont struggle for cash but im sure this will hurt lots of people. Hopefully when the dust settles a little bit we are see prices sit around $79 – $89 mark. Just like Big W and others sell new games for approx. $69 now.

      • I don’t mind DLC when it’s a genuine expansion. I hate when it’s buy the ending.

        As for loot boxes, they can die in a fire but I think they’re here to stay.

        • Yeah i dont mind the concept of paid for DLC but sometimes i feel like they hold back 20% of the game to only charge us for it later.

    • Very lucky, in that one of the major pressures on lowering prices is the sheer volume of supply. It’s a competitive space, and there’s a reason we’ve seen some AAA marketing cost more than the game cost to develop. I have a hunch this new pricing will be a brief capitalization on novelty, rather than a new status quo.

    • Except we all know thats only if you look at it on the surface.

      Most AAA games are now sold with the expectations of being a Live Service geared towards perpetual spending on DLC and other monetisations.. add in the tiered releases and outside of indies and genuine devs like cd projekt reds stuff you are very rarely “just” paying the 70-80 bucks.

      I am more than happy to fork out for genuine complete experiences but this rarely comes out these days

      • This hasn’t been the case for anything first party on PS4. I’ve always been down for annual, good DLC like Battlefield used to do, but I also haven’t been in the market for AAA DLC machine games because they generally have poorly gameplay to accommodate power levels and other stuff I don’t care about. I’m even hitting the point where any game with numbers flying out of enemies better give me a spreadsheet of stats to play with or its no sale. Flying number games are ugly as shit.

  • “Big-budget AAA games cost too much to make!” would be a sympathetic argument if it weren’t coming from companies reporting record-breaking profits every year. Yes, they cost more… clearly they recoup more, too.

    Seems like an opening move from publishers who are placing a premium on early adoption – novelty and social currency are worth something, if the market is willing to pay for it. Remember when Microsoft told a Senate hearing that they charge, “What the market will bear?” Well, the reverse is probably true, too.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out.

    • I would pay more if AAA didnt increase microtransactions in both unscrupulous levels of saturation and price for the last decade. Seriously some MTX are more than $100 dollars now… nothing micro about them.

      Interestingly many Indie and small studios are still managing to maintain low price, high quality and no bull shit micro transactions. Best value for money.

      • To put in perspective. AC: Odyssey has over $200 AUD in microtransactions and it’s a singleplayer game. Yet they feel the need to charge $10-$20 more for the next gen version. When the only difference is load times and some graphics

        • Odyssey also has some of the least intrusive microtransactions microtransactions I’ve ever seen in a game, not to mention they’re all cosmetic items, despite the already wide variety of cosmetic items already available. If there’s a good way to integrate microtransactions, that would be it.

    • The way some of these companies are carrying on makes it sound like they are barely profitable and not at all making year on year billion-dollar profits.

      This isn’t about increasing costs, This is about greed, Pure and simple.

  • This… seems pretty reasonable to me? Back in the PS2 era I remember new release games being $120 a pop, and somehow in the decade and a half since then they fell to nearly half that price despite getting more complex to make. This feels like a pretty natural balancing.

    Of course, I’d be happier if we heard that that money was being used to better support dev teams to cut back on crunch and better compensate the people who produce them instead of all going directly into executives pockets, but… I’m not getting my hopes up.

    • In the 90s I remember that Target used to price their games at $79 for AAA games, and $57-59 for less anticipated or older titles.

      For the lower-end titles, that puts the adjusted 2020 equivalent at closer to $98-115 for the low-end titles and $135-160 for the high-end titles.

      Yeah, we definitely used to pay more for these things, 20-30 years ago.

      • Remember PC games before digital distribution? Sometimes Electronics Botique or Harvey Norman was the only local option and you’d have to eat $99 because … otherwise you didn’t get it. Plain and simple. And 56k wasn’t great for torrenting games in the late ’90s.

        Motorcross Madness was still absolutely worth $99, though. That was so much better than it had any right to be.

        • Availability and access are higher than they’ve ever been, and the market is massive, so yeah… AAA needs to watch their step. I also reckon they can’t afford to price themselves too far out of the market, because indies and AA are nipping at their heels. If AAA was the only game in town, like when the Nintendo ‘certified’ label was so highly-prized and rarely given… sure. But there are SO MANY games now. And they’re SO GOOD. So good that you can easily ignore a AAA until it drops price. And they’re competing with each other, hard. With gamepass and other moves towards subscription, and the high number of PS4/xbone free upgrades to next-gen, the premium box price seems more and more likely to be a moment’s early-adopter opportunism.

          • Nintendo certified was never a seal of how good the game was. It meant it was compatible with the hardware and had passed whatever checklist they had. Probably stuff like not corrupting your memory pak etc.

        • Even then, it was never rrp’d officially at 150, that was simply either shops who did grey imports and jacked the price up, or shops who wanted to rip people off because they could at the height of the SF2 craze because of the rarity of cartridges at the time.

          The only time in recent history that games went to an RRP of 119-129 was during the Xbox 360’s initial debut, when prices for new release games initially increased. At that point in time, there was a short period of time when they boosted over 99.95 (standard new game rrp), to this price.

          In the 90’s, the N64 had a period where *some* but not all of the games, had absurd prices, with some of them getting prices of 119 and 129, but only a few such as Conker, or those that incorporated the 4mb pack or the rumblepak charged extra. Not all of them though (although the inclusion of a pak sort of justified the increased price).

          Again, grey importing, a frowned upon practice, usually signifies why the price has been jacked right up.

    • +1 Yup, factoring inflation it’s not bad. We’ve been spoilt in the 2010s. I think as games have become more mainstream the publishers have shipped more games which means cheaper titles, thanks to economy of scale.

      My concern is having short games and it being less value for money. Fortunately, I’ve got a big backlog.

  • This reminds me of the $99 PS4 games were going for at launch but I also remember digital PS4 games were actually quite competitive before the digital tax. I won’t get any launch console or games this year, until reliablity/launch issues are sorted and game prices come down. I have enough of a back log to get through until Autumn 2021.

  • Sure they have not increased since the last generation but you also are getting less value for the standard game, with most games walling off content into the “Pay me more money edition”, having season passes that they can phone in if the game is a flop and being riddled with mircotransactions that compromise the core experience if you happen to not pay for them after ONLY buying the game for $80.

    It also seems like a strange strategy to run right now with COVID, i only have soo much money to spend and a higher price means i buy less and take less risks when i do buy, something like Watchdogs Legion for example moves from the category of “if the reviews are good i will think about it on release” to “i will get the game of the year edition when the price is in the gutter”

    • Absolutely, the DLC / microtransaction trade off means the base game (unless it’s usually a Xbox/Nintendo/Playstation first party game) has been cutdown in content – but lengthened in time it takes to complete it so it’s not as noticeable. A lot of Xbox Game Pass games are just trojan horses to deliver micro transaction revenue.

  • Absolute horseshit. The biggest AAA companies are making money hand over fist, CEO’s getting 40 million dollar bonuses whilst the devs themselves can’t even afford food at their own cafeterias.

    Give me a goddamn break.

  • It does seem somewhat backwards to me that when I was a poor uni student in 2006 living off two-minute-noodles, I was paying $99 per 360 game at EB, yet now that I’m making a stable living, I’m able to get games for $49-59 each at JB/Amazon, when inflation says I should be paying around $135. That said, as others have pointed out, that difference is often (at least, partially) made up by DLC, season passes, and other superfluous digital tat.

  • I would support this if it meant that they relied less on microtransactions and it reduced the amount of copies needed to be sold to be considered “successful” or viable. It is true that the cost of making a game has risen, and thus, the amount needed to be sold to justify its existence has also risen. In addition to that, games are more aggressively marketed and major games are designed with marketability in mind.

    If a higher price tag means that publishers are more likely to give niche titles a chance, and allows studios to cater to a smaller crowd, then I’d support this price hike.

    But that won’t happen. Most publishers will hike up the price and continue with microtransactions, meaningless DLC and changing aspects of their game to deepen its appeal to the broadest market possible, even (or especially) at the expense of artistic and creative vision.

  • The question I have is why are we still paying full price for digital distribution… when a lot of games wnd up being cheaper buying the box.

    EGS said games will be cheaper their way… NOPE still full RRP. Borderlands 3 was $15 cheaper pre-ordering from JB HiFi and is now $40 cheaper today… and its just a code in a box.

    • Been saying that for over a decade. Why are bits and bytes more expensive than manufacturing the same thing to put on a shelf? It loosely costs $20 to make a blu ray copy of a game. Thats case, disc printing, cover, transport, etc.

      Not development costs, but the process of turning the release version of a game into a shelf product. Which any way you look at it is $20 more than not making a physical version. Which should be reflected in the digital price. So why do the physical copies end up cheaper?

        • Excuse being the operative word. End of the day, its putting stores like EB out of business, part of what I was saying 10 years ago. Who’d have thought stocking less product would see less sales…

          Personally I still prefer a physical copy, but am realist enough to know thats not going to always happen. But I dread the day a service like Steam closes shop for example. Thats not saying I expect it to (I dont), but only a fool thinks it cant happen.

  • “Get ready for $100 AAA games” lol I’m getting ready to only buy AAA games years after release, when it’s been patched, all the content has been released, and it costs a reasonable amount.

    • yep as long as there are people willing to let these companies take advantage of them, there will be companies there to do it. stop paying too much for these games, theres still plenty of quality games out there that are appropriately priced. most games will come down in price as they age. call of duty being one exception to that rule, but maybe that would change if people started voting with their wallets.

    • Yeah, feels hard to complain when I can remember paying 100+ back in the SNES days. We’ve somehow dodged inflation for many, many years.

      If the price rise really bothers you, go look through your backlogs/steam libraries. There are almost certainly older games out there at cheap prices you could play instead. It’s also the best way to impact pricing…

      • its not a matter of dodging inflation. its more a matter of we have been overcharged for so long. its about time we got parity on pricing, which for the most part we have for the past ~2years. doesnt mean we should just sit back and take the $100 price tag after being gouged for decades.

        • It kind of is when the AUD vs USD are basically the same as they were in the 90s and games prices haven’t really changed here or there. I have old international gaming magazines lying around that show current day prices.

          The market is significantly more competitive today though, that’s for sure.

  • Good thing all the games I’ve pre-ordered have free PS5 upgrades, ubi is pretty good like that, so is CDPR apparently. Most games I see are usually $90, I remember PS4 games coming out at $99, a few bucks a few times a year isn’t bad, it’s when you have the compulsuion to buy every game ever made that it becomes a problem, but that’s a choice you have to make, I don’t get the big whohar, people pay $40 to watch a movie, from a disc, in their home, $100 to give you 10-infinite amount of enjoyment isn’t such a high price.

    • “People pay $40 to watch a movie, from a disc, in their home”. This is the 21st Century now mate, something called streaming exists. It’s been literally decades since this was even remotely common.

  • Can’t wait for developers/publishers to still fire massive amounts of people repeatedly despite making more money from this.

    • We saw it with blizzard already.

      They fired hundreds of people, Then announced record profits at their AGM and gave huge million-dollar bonuses to their leaders.

  • Well, will be interesting to find out how long it will take for them to realise that for some reason people have stopped buying thier games at release prices (over what it is currently), or how long until they release that the games they produce is crap. Personally at the current rate for new consoles showing, I’m just going to ignore this gen, and wait for games to be for sale online (as complete games) for a reasonable price.

  • One question to ask is whether the price is high because the consoles will be a lot more expensive than people are expecting, and the only customers will be those for whom the game prices aren’t a problem?

  • I guess the more they cost to make, the more financial risk is involved and there is probably enough market research out there that says a viable number of consumers will pay that much. However, my belief is that the market will be saturated for choice and that will undoubtedly drive prices down over time because there is always another title competing for your discretionary spend.

    (Currently waiting for RDR2 and HZD to get to a wallet friendly price on PC)

  • I don’t think I’ve bought a full price game since the PS2!

    X360 and Xbone I’ve tended to wait until they get below $50 before considering it.

    Havent even bought a game this year thinking about it, just have game pass with a steady stream of great games that I probably would previously have bought (RDR2, No Man’s Sky, Outer Wilds, The Outer Worlds, Untitled Goose Game)

    Be interesting to see if $100+ sticks, I don’t think it will for long as they’ll lose more money in the long run with lower sales and less spent on microtransactions

  • Games were regularly $100+ in 2000s, and Nintendo pushed it even past that, due to the poor exchange rate and ‘Australia tax’. Having them being somewhat more reasonably priced has been a nice change of pace.

    Perhaps we can have another global financial crash to bring the price down some more?

    • The crash will come when game makers quickly find out increasing prices for a luxury during a huge worldwide economic crisis is not the smartest idea.

      Why do you think Sony and Microsoft haven’t released prices yet?

  • Doesn’t really bother me too much since I buy very few games at launch anyway. With a few exceptions, I generally wait for AAA games to get to below $50 or less. This might just mean I have to wait an extra month or two for them to get discounted that far.

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