With (some) publishers raising prices of next-generation games, all eyes are on Microsoft to see if the same pricing will be adopted for Xbox Series X.
Speaking with The Washington Post in a recent interview, Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox brand, refrained from confirming if first-party games on Xbox Series X will be priced $70. He instead reminded that publishers are free to price games as necessary. However, the customers are the ones who ultimately decide if the asking price is right. Spencer further noted that he has absolute “trust” in the way customers control the pricing of games, which was perhaps a way to imply that quality Xbox Series X games will be deserving of the increased $70 price.
I’m not negative on people setting a new price point for games because I know everybody’s going to drive their own decisions based on their own business needs. But gamers have more choice today than they ever have. In the end, I know the customer is in control of the price that they pay, and I trust that system.
2K Games recently became the first publisher to announce that NBA 2K21 will cost $70 on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X while costing the same $60 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Following the announcement, many other publishers have reportedly started mulling over the new pricing model as well, and $70 does look to be becoming the de facto standard for next-generation games.
The fact is that the games industry needs to keep up with renewed development costs which have kept increasing on a regular basis. Halo Infinite, for example, one of the launch titles of Xbox Series X, is reportedly the most expensive project in the history of the games industry.
On the other side of the fence, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan has stated that the kind of jaw-dropping gameplay as shown in the recent Unreal Engine 5 demo will not come cheap on PlayStation 5. Cory Barlog, game director of God of War, recently spoke in favor of increasing retail prices as well.
The new $70 price tag will help publishers to some degree to make up for ballooning development costs by bringing those prices in line with historical inflation. The increased basic retail price will, however, not extinguish the desire of publishers to exploit further revenue opportunities. Hence, the assumption that increased retail prices of games will convince publishers to stop fleecing players by locking content behind paywalls is unfortunately wishful thinking.
Xbox Series X is scheduled to launch worldwide around the holiday season of 2020. Microsoft is yet to reveal pricing details, the complete launch lineup, and pre-order dates.