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I think we all saw it coming, but it doesn't sting any less. The first details on pricing for next-gen games suggests that PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X titles are going to be considerably pricier than current-gen products. And let's be honest, games aren't exactly cheap as it is.
As reported by GamesIndustry.biz, the recently announced NBA 2K21 will have a recommended retail price of $69.99/£64.99 when it launches on next-gen consoles later this year. That's only £5 more than the PS4 and Xbox One version, which has a recommended price of $59.99/£59.99, but still... it adds up, right?
This is being seen by many as the first real confirmation that next-generation games will likely have to charge more as development costs increase. This comes just days after former PlayStation boss Shawn Layden warned that current AAA development is "just not sustainable".
Referencing the fact that most AAA games currently cost anywhere between $80m and $150m to develop, Layden shared his thoughts on the future of development costs during a panel at Gamelab Live last week.
"The problem with that model is it's just not sustainable," he said, according to GamesIndustry.biz. "I don't think that, in the next generation, you can take those numbers and multiply them by two and think that you can grow.
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"It's been $59.99 since I started in this business, but the cost of games have gone up ten times. If you don't have elasticity on the price-point, but you have huge volatility on the cost line, the model becomes more difficult. I think this generation is going to see those two imperatives collide."
Layden also suggested that one way to avoid charging more for games would be to make AAA titles shorter, ultimately controlling development costs. Certainly, there are plenty of gamers out there right now who feel a lot of modern releases are way longer than they need to be.
"It's hard for every adventure game to shoot for the 50 to 60-hour gameplay milestone, because that's gonna be so much more expensive to achieve," he said.
"And in the end you may close some interesting creators and their stories out of the market if that's the kind of threshold they have to meet... We have to reevaluate that. I think the industry as a whole needs to sit back and go, 'Alright, what are we building? What's the audience expectation? What is the best way to get our story across, and say what we need to say?'"
The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are expected to launch towards the end of this year. We still don't know how much either piece of hardware will cost, but at least now we have some indication as to software prices.
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