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Are game prices set to rise with the launch of next-gen consoles?

Hide your wallet.

NBA 2K21 ignited discussion around the potential cost of next-gen games earlier this week.

Earlier last week, the latest installment of popular sports game, NBA 2K, became available for players to pre-order, however, what caught the attention of the gaming community was the stark difference in price between current and next-gen copies of the game, prompting discussion around the future cost of gaming.

With the next-generation of consoles soon approaching, nearly all of the games releasing on current console systems this year, will also be available on the new consoles set to release this holiday season. Until now, discussion around the pricing of next-generation revolved around the new consoles themselves, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, however thanks to the availability of NBA 2K21 pre-orders, it appears console pricing isn't the only thing to keep in mind.

NBA 2K21 is set to cost players up to £10/$10 more on next-gen platforms than current platforms, bringing the price of this title from the usual £54.99/$59.99 to roughly £64.99/$70.

Publisher 2K, has commented on the next-gen price hike of the title, telling outlet, Ars Technica, that they feel the jump in price is representative of the game's next-gen versions value:

"We believe our suggested retail price for NBA 2K21 on next-generation platforms fairly represents the value of what's being offered: power, speed, and technology that is only possible on new hardware"

This doesn't appear to be a one-off occurrence either, as it has been reported that other publishers are considering driving up the price of their next-gen titles too.

In a report from site, it was revealed that we should expect the price of next-gen titles to be priced similarly to 2K21, according to games analyst and CEO of research firm IDG consulting, Yoshio Osaki. Osaki and his firm have stated that many publishers are considering a price increase on their next-gen titles, and that a rise in video game pricing is to be expected with the next-generation of gaming platforms:

"The last time that next-gen launch software pricing went up was in 2005 and 2006, when it went from $49.99 to $59.99 at the start of the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation, during that time, the costs and prices in other affiliated verticals have gone up."

In this report, Osaki notes that video game pricing has remained flat since 2005, despite the rising production cost of new consoles and newer, higher quality games. He also stated that this price increase is minimal compared to pricing in the movie and TV industry.

"Cinema ticket prices have risen 39%, Netflix subscription costs have gone up 100%, and Cable TV packages have risen by 105%," said Osaki. "Even with the increase to $69.99 for next-gen, that price increase from 2005 to 2020 next-gen is only up 17%, far lower than the other comparisons."

Going by these statistics provided by Osaki, it is remarkable that the cost of gaming has stayed so static over the years, something many players aren't aware of. While the rise in price comes as a shock, it is hard to deny that its not entirely unexpected. Games are increasingly become more and more impressive, whether it be in story telling, world design, to sheer scope, it seems only fair that players pay more for titles of higher quality and value.

However Osaki himself stated that not all titles should meet this price mark, but large AAA titles such as NBA 2K bring enough quality to justify the cost:

"Not every game should garner the $69.99 price point on next-gen, but flagship AAAs such as NBA 2K merit this pricing more than others."

The biggest concern surrounding the next-gen price increase is the future accessibility of gaming. The price for these big titles is nearing ever closer to the £100/$100 mark, something that at a point seemed unrealistic, yet it appears that it may one day become a reality. With prices going up, many who already struggle to afford the latest game or console will be even more at a disadvantage, potentially making gaming something exclusive and affordable to few. Obviously, we haven't reached that stage yet, but from the perspective of someone who enjoys gaming and always has, I feel its important that it remains a medium available, accessible and affordable for all, as for many it isn't just a pastime or hobby, but a means of social connectivity, with friends and even family.

It is hard to tell what the future of gaming will look like, but if there is one thing we do know, it's that it's looking to be expensive.

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