AAA Games Will Get More Expensive And That Might Not Be A Bad Thing

The video game industry seems to be pushing for higher prices, with possible implementation in the near-future.

Story Highlights

  • The $60 price tag was established in 2005 and stood strong for 15 years.
  • The cost of video games continues to increase with time but the price doesn’t match it.
  • Increasing a AAA game’s price can reduce industry layoffs.

AAA games have been the cornerstone of the video game industry for as far back as I can remember. Some AAA series are considered video game royalty, whether it be Microsoft’s Forza games or Sony’s The Last of Us franchise. Most of their success is thanks to their high budget, but how many AAA games make a profit?

If you’ve been gaming for a while then the $60 price tag will likely be all too familiar. After all, it’s the price that most AAA studios adopted for their games since the 2000s. However, with the recent increase to $70 and the backlash that came with it, I think AAA games will continue to increase in price. The kicker is that this increase might be a good thing for gamers.

Is The Industry Stuck In The Past?

The $60 price tag has been around since the 90s. However, Activision was the studio to formally cement the price through its Call of Duty game series in 2005, prompting other AAA developers to follow in its footsteps.

From the Xbox 360 and PS3 era till the start of the Xbox Series S/X and PS5 era, studios had no choice but to retain that $60 price for new AAA games. For context, look at Call of Duty 4’s graphics in 2007 compared to 2020’s Black Ops Cold War when the video game industry started pushing a $70 price tag.

CoD 4 vs Black Ops Cold War │ XpertFusion
CoD 4 vs Black Ops Cold War │ Source: XpertFusion

15 years is way too long to keep the price of something the same. Take the average price of buying a movie ticket as an example. In 2005, you could buy a ticket for $6.55, while the same ticket cost $9.18 in 2020. That’s right, an approximate 40% increase in price. Then why did the average price of video games only go from $60 to $70? That too while facing much backlash?

Games Are Getting Larger In Scale – And Cost

What are some of the biggest and most ambitious video game releases? Is it Horizon Forbidden West with a total cost of $212 million? Maybe Cyberpunk 2077, which cost developer CD Projekt Red over $400 million to develop and market?

As video games continue to grow in scale to deliver mesmerizing graphics and immersive gameplay, so too does the cost of developing them. A AAA game made for the PS5 using Unreal Engine 5 will likely be more expensive than one made in 2010 using, say, Anvil. Add to this the fact that video games are more popular than ever, and demand for games is very high. 

Most expensive video games ever developed
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With so many different genres being covered and niches being explored, there’s a game for everyone. As the demand increases, the law of economics dictates that the price should increase too. However, you don’t see that happening much with AAA games. This results in the people who develop the video games we love being paid less than they deserve.

Thanks to the increase in development costs, many studios look toward other means of making more money from their games. These means include paid DLCs, special editions of games, and the microtransactions we all know and love.

Can This Be The Fix For Industry Layoffs?

Many would argue that most AAA game developers making the biggest innovative strides come from Sony’s side. However, while critically acclaimed games like The Last of Us Part 1 and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 were released in 2022 and 2023 respectively, 2024 started with Sony-owned studios Naughty Dog and Insomniac Games having to lay off a good percentage of employees.

Aside from Sony’s developer studios, other beloved AAA studios made recent staff reductions. These studios include CD Projekt Red, Ubisoft, and Riot Games. PC Gamer estimated that 11,250 people lost gaming-related jobs in 2023. 

YouTube video

In the video game industry where the best-looking video game typically makes the news, studios cut costs by firing employees. Layoffs might decrease if the prices of high-budget AAA games go up to, say, $80. It would result in a better profit margin and more breathing space for studios to be flexible with their employees.

As the video game industry continues to advance in many aspects, it’s odd that the price of an average high-budget game doesn’t get the same treatment. Although the rise from $60 to $70 was a shocker to some, I think it was the start of AAA developers realizing that it’s about time the industry started doing what other entertainment industries have been doing for years.

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Najam Ul Hassan is a News Reporter on eXputer who enjoys investing hours in his favorite video game titles. When he’s not playing games, he’s practicing Journalism. He began his career on eXputer after combining his limitless love of video games and all things geek with his considerable writing experience. He has been cited numerous times by several noteworthy publications and sites such as Game Rant, Yahoo, PlayStation LifeStyle, VGC, VG247, TheGamer, among others. Experience: 2+ Years || Education: Masters in Mass Media Communication || Written 300+ News Stories.

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