$70 Video Games: A Fair Price at the Mercy of the Developer

By: Dylan Lepore | @dylanslegos

Since more than 15 years ago, Video Game prices are going up to $70; however, according to inflation, the cost of Video Games are at an all-time low with the current $59.99 price tag.

Kyle Orland, Gaming Editor at Ars Technica, wrote in an article, "Adjusting for inflation, we can see the actual (2020 dollar) value of top-end disc-based games plateaued right around $70 for almost a decade through in the [2000s] and early [2010s]."

"Inflation has slowly eroded that value in the last decade, though, to the point where a $10 increase like the one for NBA2K21 [a $70 game] merely gets games to the same actual price point as they enjoyed earlier in the century," Orland wrote.

Disc-based games have had their value slowly whittled away by deflation over the last 20 years, according to Ars Technica. 

Video Game Prices Adjusted for 2020 Inflation:

  • 1983 Centipede (Atari 2600) $34.99 = $91.44
  • 1988 The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo Entertainment System) $37.99 = $83.58
  • 1993 Streets of Rage 2 (Sega Genesis) $64.99 = $117.06
  • 1997 Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (Nintendo 64) $69.99 = $113.50
  • 2008 Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360) $59.99 = $72.52

The next generation of gaming is right around the corner with PlayStation 5 (PS5) and the Xbox Series X, which means machines that are more powerful and costly than their predecessors. Other rises in cost include game development and distribution.

According to Olga Kharif and Takashi Mochizuki, writers at Bloomberg, wrote in an article, "Game companies argue prices haven't kept pace with the cost of other media like a movie ticket, Netflix or cable television, said Yoshio Osaki, the head of IDG Consulting Inc., which works with most major publishers. Since 2005, the cost to develop a game has tripled or quadrupled, he said."

From Bloomberg, "'Not all publishers will launch next-gen games at $70,' Osaki wrote in an email. 'However, we do anticipate that a growing percentage of games will launch at $70, but not all at once and not uniformly across every publisher or every game franchise.'"

Target's websiteMarvel's Spider-Man: Mile Morales Ultimate Launch EditionCall of Duty: Black Ops Cold WarDemon's Souls, and Godfall for the PS5 are all $70 games except for some.

According to the Bloomberg article, "Sony executives have been deliberating over a price increase for some time, said people familiar with the discussions. A spokeswoman for Sony said the company is selling titles at launch for as little as $50 and the 'biggest games' for $70. She said the higher price is 'reflective of the growing development resources needed for these ambitious games.'"

When Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. was asked how they justify higher prices by Bloomberg, Strauss Zelnick, the chief executive officer of Take-Two, said, "We don't have a pricing strategy ... We charge much, much less than the value we deliver. That's our pricing strategy, if we have one."

On the contrary, Capcom Co., the Japanese publisher of Resident Evil and Street Fighter, who won't release software for the new systems until next year, goes about pricing its games differently, allowing the consumer to decide. 

According to Bloomberg, "
Capcom said it's taking a 'title-by-title' approach. 'We believe game software's price should be determined by how much money consumers are willing to pay for the quality, not by how much money we spend to make that game,' said Kenkichi Nomura, the chief financial officer."

What are your thoughts on the price increase for the future of gaming - for or against it? Let HC GamerLife know in the comments below, and don't forget to check out our headset for your new console of choice. 

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