The New Cost of Gaming

I worked for GameStop for over five years; two as an associate and three in management. During my time there, I learned a lot about what games sell and how to sell them. While Madden is the top selling sports game franchise, NBA 2k always dominated at my store. 2k is the one I always planned a tournament around for the midnight. Every year following release we would hear over and over “Give me that 2k for the P4.” We sold SO MUCH of the 2k currency that I had all the amounts and their UPCs, including ones not advertised, memorized.

So it comes as no surprise to me that NBA 2k21 will be the first 69.99 game to hit store shelves. This will apply to only the PS5 and XBSX titles. The PS4 and XB1 counterparts will still be 59.99 on release.

The topic of what will PS5 and XBSX games actually cost has been the question on everyone’s minds. Despite us being just months away from launch, no one is being straight forward. Everyone is dodging the question or reiterating the word “value” fifty times in their coy press statements.

Games are currently 59.99 for big budget titles with smaller releases clocking in much lower. This hasn’t always been the standard. In the PS2 days, games usually averaged $40-$50. In the days of the SNES, games would go even higher than $69.99. Pricing was all over the place. It was only at the start of the PS3 and 360 cycle that we received the standard 59.99.

This price also does not account for the micro transactions. Some games have free to play style economies with a sixty dollar price tag to entry. This also doesn’t account for the myriad of special editions than can cost you upwards of two or three hundred dollars. There’s also season passes for DLC which is the promise of more content. Some games like Mass Effect Andromeda have had their planned DLC canned due to poor reception.

Games are more expensive to make and I understand that. I would gladly pay more if it meant that harmful crunch practices were a thing of the past. I would gladly pay more if the game was a worthwhile experience and not a quick single player campaign with shoddy multiplayer. There’s also a lot of extraneous details. In Red Dead Redemption 2, no one needed horse genitalia to react realistically to cold. We don’t need unique animations for every single weapon upgrade in The Last of Us Part II.

My guess is that a lot of games want to charge more, but they don’t want to be the first. They keep waiting for someone else to take that first step. We’ve seen this before with micro transactions and loot boxes. There’s not many in a better position to take the plunge than a yearly installment of a beloved sports franchise. These games and the yearly Call of Duty title are guaranteed sellers. People will buy them for the name and to play with their friends. And, these companies hope, they’ll still buy them for the higher price.

It will all depend upon how NBA 2k21 sells. Once that game is out, you’ll see more and more titles raising their prices until it’s the new normal. The only issue I can see slowing this plan down is the pandemic, as with all things 2020. Many Americans are still out of work with no way to seek further employment. Will the economy be able to support the price boost in games? Will the economy be able to support two new systems at all?

Whatever happens, you know we’ll have the scoop here.

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