Play Life, Live Games column: Game prices could be going up
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
It looks like the cost of video games could be going up with the next generation of systems later this year.
The website Kotaku reported last week that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X version of “NBA 2K21” will have a suggested retail price of $69.99 when it releases. That’s an increase of $10 over the cost of most Triple A games released on the current systems.
While I definitely don’t want to pay more for games, I’m actually not going to complain about this increase. The price of games probably should go up.
The price of most games has held steady at $60 or less for about 15 years, when the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were released and games made the jump to high definition.
Since then, the cost to develop a game has increased dramatically as graphics have gotten better and sharper.
According to an NBC report from 2003, the average cost to develop a game for the original PlayStation was less than $1 million. That increased to $5 million to $7 million when the original Xbox and the PlayStation came out. That average cost increased to $18 million to $28 million when games moved to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the last time prices increased on store shelves.
Today, it’s not uncommon for a game to have a budget of more than $100 million, with “Grand Theft Auto 5” having an estimated budget of $275 million. But considering that game has sold more than 130 million copies, it more than made its money back.
In fact, former PlayStation executive Shawn Layden recently gave an interview in which he recommended developers go back to making shorter games (“The Last of Us” takes about 15 hours to complete while its recently released sequel takes about 25) to reduce development costs.
In the long run, I think it’s good for the industry if the retail cost of a game goes up. While $70 is a lot, when you look at how much games and systems used to cost, today’s prices are actually very affordable.
The Atari 2600 launched in 1977 for $199.99, with games costing $40 to $60 at the time. When taking inflation into account, the system cost $864 in today’s money, while the games would cost $169 to $253.
So I’m definitely not going to complain about paying $70 for a video game I’m looking forward to.
Dusty Ricketts is the editor of The Destin Log and The Walton Sun newspapers and can be reached ata firstname.lastname@example.org.