At this point, there is plenty of excitement about the next-gen consoles which arrive in just a few months. The PS5 and Xbox Series X promise to deliver incredible performance and graphics for some of the world’s most anticipated titles.
However, their pricing still remains shrouded in mystery.
While that hasn’t changed just yet, recent developments in the game world suggest that next-gen titles might be more expensive than players are used to. 2K Games’ forthcoming basketball simulator “NBA 2K21” costs $69.99 for the next-gen version. That’s a $10 price hike above what most AAA titles cost right now.
The announcement of “NBA 2K21’s” pricing structure comes as a surprise. Like most titles being released this year that plan to bridge the gap between the current generation of consoles and the next one, “2K21” has several versions.
A standard version for players that don’t plan to upgrade their console is the usual $59.99 that players have grown accustomed to. However, the standard edition for the PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles costs $69.99.
That in itself is an odd move considering the fact that the game itself doesn’t change. Rather, the next-gen version will take advantage of the newer consoles’ superior hardware to deliver a better experience.
Notably, that isn’t the only area in which “2K21” deviates from the norm. Its developer is also selling a “2K21: Mamba Forever Edition” featuring Kobe Bryant as the cover athlete for both current and next-gen consoles. It retails for $99.99 and promises buyers a copy of the standard game on the other generation. This means players can enjoy the game on their current generation hardware while having the ability to upgrade once they buy a new console. The Mamba Forever Edition also includes a host of in-game content and currency.
Regardless, the tactic differs from that of studios like CD Projekt Red and Bungie who plan to offer free cross-gen upgrades to those who purchase “Cyberpunk 2077” and/or “Destiny 2” for their current console.
Believe it or not, gamers have been paying $59.99 for AAA titles for nearly 15 years. The unspoken pricing rule dates back to the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation. Prior to that, premier titles cost $49.99.
While it isn’t a guarantee, the pricing structure for “NBA 2K21” suggests that next-gen titles could come with a cost adjustment.
NPD Group video games analyst Mat Piscatella says, “$69.99 may be the new standard pricing for next gen titles.” It would mark the first major change to video game pricing “since Activision went with $59.99 for ‘Call of Duty 2’ 15 years ago.”
Of course, the price increase isn’t entirely unwarranted. Today’s titles come with a level of detail and complexity that can’t even be measured on the same scale as games from 15 years ago.
Developers have recently tried to close this gap by selling “gold” or “legendary” versions of their games with extra content or in-game accessories. Others have chosen to take the DLC route, selling bonus levels and missions for an extra fee. Tactics like season passes and loot boxes that charge players even more have also become popular. It now seems that those changes aren’t enough to prevent an overall price increase.
Still, that doesn’t make the prospect of shelling out $70 for each new title any less painful. That’s especially true considering the fact that next-gen consoles will likely cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $500.
Again, the pricing of “2K” might not reflect what other AAA studios are planning for the PS5 and Xbox Series X. However, gamers shouldn’t be surprised if buying new games gets a little more expensive.