Since as early as 1983, the average price of a new video game has been $60. For decades, this price was unfixed, and for as far back as most Gen Z and Millennials remember, this has always been the standard. This all changed with the new generation of consoles in 2020. As game development costs increase, publishers increased prices to a base of $70 for next-gen titles, and $60 for last-gen ones.
This year, we have even seen some last-generation games cost as much as $70, including the new Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2.
MW2 costs $70 for people playing on Xbox One and PS4, or you could spend $100 on the vault edition. As we approach the holiday season and into 2023 multiple next-gen AAA $70 titles have and will release, including:
- God of War
- The Callisto Protocol
- Hogwarts Legacy
- Horizon Forbidden West
- Elden Ring
- Starfield (Likely $70)
- Skull and Bones
This price increase is more than justified. For nearly 40 years, the cost of a new game has remained relatively unchanged, however, the price of game development has skyrocketed during this time. Big AAA titles are massive projects that cost tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars.
In the past, big hits were made by teams of a dozen or so. Now they are made by teams of thousands. If we take inflation into account, a $60 game in 1983 would be $179 in 2022. Surprisingly, many video games including SNES games in the 80s and 90s cost as much.
And it is not just next-gen games moving to a $70 base price. Nintendo Switch games are now priced at $70 too, including the newest version of Skyrim. Ubisoft had also announced all of its future titles will cost $70 base. And in typical Ubisoft fashion, special editions with additional content will continue to retail for over $100.
Some publishers are still clinging to the $70 price point, but they shouldn’t be expected to forever. CD Projekt Red has famously stated next-gen titles will continue to only cost $60.
CDPR has built a reputation of being pro-consumer, but it is probably unlikely their games will continue to cost $60 5 years from now. Game development is expensive, and CDPR will want to recoup costs on its big AAA projects unless it plans to invest heavily in live service and multiplayer games.
The $70 game is here to stay, and gamers are lucky that they aren’t paying more (although many do, through special editions and microtransactions). The reality is, as game development costs continue to rise, publishers and developers need to recoup their investment into developing high-quality AAA titles.
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