As we continue to move into this next console generation we’re going to see a lot of changes. More powerful games, more next-gen exclusives, and it’s looking like all of this is going to come at an added cost. The first company to break the mold and tell fans that their next-gen game was going to be $70 were the developers of the NBA 2K franchise, Take-Two Interactive. Later on, Sony announced that PlayStation 5 games were going to be $70. It became clear that a price increase was on the way.
While many gamers were expecting an inevitable price increase, with hopes that it would lead to the end of predatory practices such as loot boxes and virtual currency, it wasn’t met with open arms. Fans still felt that $70 was the line they couldn’t cross when it came to buying a new game. Take-Two CEO, Strauss Zelnick, noticed this. While he felt that gamers were ready for $70 games, he made it sounds like they may walk back that price point in the future on a recent conference call, via VideoGamesChronicle.
Speaking during the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference this week (transcribed by VGC), Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick was asked for his views on the reaction to NBA 2K21’s price point and what it means for game prices in the future.
“We announced a $70 price point for NBA 2K21, our view was that we’re offering an array of extraordinary experiences, lots of replayability, and the last time there was a frontline price increase in the US was 2005, 2006, so we think consumers were ready for it,” Zelnick replied.
“We haven’t said anything about pricing other titles so far, and we tend to make announcements on a title-by-title basis, but I think our view is [that we want to] always deliver more value than what we charge, make sure the consumer has the experience and[…] the experience of paying for it, both are positive experiences,” he explained.
“We all know anecdotally that even if you love a consumer experience if you feel you were overcharged for it, it ruins the experience, you don’t want to have it again. [If you] go to a great restaurant, a really really fine restaurant, have a great meal and great service, then you get a check that’s double what you think it should be, you’re never going back.”
This is an interesting stance for Zelnick to take because when games rise in price they rarely ever go back down. It could be that Take-Two didn’t see enough of a rise in profits to justify the increased price point, or maybe they were trying to get ahead of what felt like an inevitability. Whatever the reason they had, this sure reads like a walk back, or at the very least like they are reconsidering that new price point for future games. Of course, actions mean more than words so we’ll need to see how Take-Two is pricing their games in the future, including NBA 2K, to know how much weight these comments hold.
It’s hard to not feel like $70 games are an inevitability with the increasing costs of games, but it’s a balancing act. If enough people say $70 is the limit then that increase initial sales price just washes out with everyone who waits for the game to go on sale. Unfortunately, this is why so many developers are utilizing in-game purchasing. It’s what they feel is the best way to make a profit on their hard work, but players everywhere hate them. Striking that balance between profitability and the enjoyment of a product is an ongoing question that Take-Two and other developers have to answer.