In comments this past weekend, Capcom president Haruhiro Tsujimoto asserted that video game prices are too low, pointing to the massive increase in development costs and how game prices haven’t risen at the same rate. He suggested that increasing the price of games would be a “healthy option” for the industry.
It was only a year ago that the era of $US70 video games really began, as numerous “AAA” releases—like Gotham Knights and God of War Ragnarök—began selling for $US10 more than what players had come to expect. Now in 2023, around half of AAA games from large publishers have adopted the new $US70 price point. Yet Capcom is one of the few publishers that’s abstained from raising prices thus far. It has continued to sell new games, like Street Fighter 6, at $US60 instead of $US70. But that might be changing.
According to a September 23 report from Nikkei, Tsujimoto spoke at the Tokyo Game Show about various topics. While speaking at the event, the president of Capcom reportedly explained that he felt the price of video games was “too low.”
“Development costs are about 100 times higher than during the Famicom era, but software prices have not gone up that much,” said Tsujimoto, referring to Nintendo’s massively successful 8-bit console from the 1980s. “There is also a need to raise wages. Considering the fact that wages are rising in the industry as a whole, I think raising unit prices is a healthy option for business.”
Tsujimoto further explained that even a recession or society’s low general confidence in the business world shouldn’t matter when it comes to game prices, saying that those factors have “little to do with the game industry” and that people still bought games even during the Lehman Brothers stock collapse in 2008.
“Just because there’s a recession doesn’t mean you won’t go to the movie theater or go to your favorite artist’s concert. High-quality games will continue to sell,” said Tsujimoto.
Video game prices will likely go up, even if gamers don’t like it
There’s no doubt that in 2023 it costs a lot more to make a video game than it did in 1983. Games are bigger and more complex than ever before, requiring more people, time, and resources to create. Even many “smaller” games are still vastly bigger and more complex than any game released in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
But games today are also jam-packed with always-online requirements, cosmetic stores, and paid “battle passes.” Sometimes the argument made is that these things are needed for publishers to make money and if prices on games were raised these microtransactions and other annoyances would go away. However, looking at how many $US70 games still contain all of that stuff in 2023, I’m not so sure about that.
Regardless, the industry can’t sustain this pace forever. As games get bigger and bigger, failures become riskier, and trying something new becomes more unlikely. Something has to change. And given the choice, publishers will probably increase the price you pay for big games like the next Halo or Grand Theft Auto in the coming years, perhaps even past $US70.