The news this week that the PS5 version of NBA 2K21 would be $70 ($69.99) has sent ripples through the gaming community, with many expecting that we’ll see the standard “base” price of new releases next-gen increase from $60. Most of that conversation was educated speculation, but now industry research firm IDG Consulting says that more major publishers in addition to 2K are exploring the $10 jump.
In a conversation with GamesIndustry.biz, IDG President and CEO Yoshio Osaki talked about the increase, saying that video game pricing has been stagnant for 15 years. “The last time that next-gen launch software pricing went up was in 2005 and 2006, when it went from $49.99 to $59.99 at the start of the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation.” He adds that prices of other similar areas in media and entertainment have risen (movies, TV, etc.).
Osaki says that the price jump to $70 is only a 17% relative increase since 2005, whereas game development costs have increased about 200% in that same period of time. Movies, theater tickets, and TV subscription services have risen anywhere from 40-100%, showing that the base price of games has had the slowest rate of growth in the media industry. That’s great for consumers, but unsustainable for the industry, as former Sony executive Shawn Layden recently pointed out.
“IDG works with all major game publishers, and our channel checks indicate that other publishers are also exploring moving their next-gen pricing up on certain franchises,” Osaki said. “Not every game should garner the $69.99 price point on next-gen, but flagship AAAs such as NBA 2K merit this pricing more than others.”
With game dev costs far outpacing the rise of consumer pricing, don’t expect this price increase to suddenly make other monetization methods—like subscriptions, microtransactions, season passes, etc.—disappear, however. “$59.99 to $69.99 does not even cover these other cost increases completely, but does move it more in the proper direction,” Osaki said.