Next-gen Games May Cost $70. It’s Overdue, But Also Worrisome.

For years, it was long believed that $60 is the only price that the U.S. games market could bear (and they’re often more expensive in international markets). But industry leaders and journalists have questioned the stubborn stickiness of the sticker price in recent years. And the last three years saw an explosion of varying price tiers, anywhere from free (like “Fortnite”) to monthly subscription services, like Apple Arcade and Xbox Game Pass. And much of the industry’s total game sales are digital downloads anyway. From a report: “The shift to $69.99 should have taken place in 2013, [in my opinion],” tweeted analyst Mat Piscatella of market research firm The NPD Group. “But folks thought mobile was a threat to the console business. … Instead we got collector’s, silver and gold editions [which offer additional content or perks] that elevate above $59.99 anyway.” Big publishers like Activision, Ubisoft and EA all regularly release marked up “special editions” of games. These prices often only come with marginal bonuses (a skin or emote), but it’s essentially charging people extra on nothing but a promise that more content is coming. EA’s disastrous launch of “Anthem” in 2018 was a high-profile example of a game that charged a premium for promised content and barely delivered. Games haven’t always been $60 though. Pricing in the 1990s usually depended on your local stores. Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis games were anywhere from $40 to $100 a cartridge. It wasn’t until 2005 that a retail price was unofficially standardized.

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