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PS5 Games Were Almost Even More Expensive

The next generation of gaming consoles is set to put a large dent in gamers' wallets starting this week. While plenty of people are still smarting over the idea of a $10 price hike in the cost of games for the new systems, a recent report indicates that perhaps players got off lucky. 

It's been known for a few months that most exclusive AAA games for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 will cost $70. The first indication of a set standard for a higher price came in July, when video game industry analyst Mat Piscatella noted that NBA 2K21 would be sold at $69.99 for the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X|S, but not for the current-generation consoles. In September, Sony confirmed the new price standard for PS5 games, noting that its Worldwide Studios titles would cost $49.99-$69.99. Other game companies followed suit.

That's a change from the last 15 years or so of gaming, during which people have become used to paying $60 as the base price for new titles. The sad truth about the $60 price point is that it doesn't necessarily reflect how much it costs to make a game, though — it's more about consumer expectation than reality.

"$60 is essentially too little to pay for the amount of money that goes into the vast majority of blockbuster console games," Business Insider's Ben Gilbert said in 2018. "That's why there's stuff like season passes or downloadable content or loot boxes or any of the other ways that game companies have figured out how to try to make more from what they have."

Now that a new crop of games is here, it seems a natural time to levy a price increase without exciting the anger of consumers. As a result of inflation and development costs that are more burdensome than ever, Bloomberg reports that Sony considered making the cost of premier first-party exclusives for its console even higher. 

Bloomberg's report read, "At one point, Sony discussed going even higher before settling on $70. Many of the game executives requested anonymity, apparently because they recognize the move is unpopular. In many cases, companies won't acknowledge the fee increase, saying only that prices will vary by title." 

Many industry insiders believe the price increase has been a long time coming. IDG Consulting president Yoshio Osaki pointed out that costs for game production have risen by 200-300 percent during that time period, depending on the studio, genre, and IP. Meanwhile, costs for movie tickets have gone up 39 percent, Netflix subscription prices have gone up 100 percent, and cable television packages have risen by 105 percent. In contrast, the cost of video games has gone up just 17 percent, he added.

"While the cost of development and publishing have gone up, and pricing in other entertainment verticals has also gone up substantially, next-gen software pricing has not reflected these increases," Osaki said. "$59.99 to $69.99 does not even cover these other cost increases completely, but does move it more in the proper direction."