The price of games is going up. Sony, along with 2K Sports, may be an outlier right now, but make no mistake: other publishers will follow. It means the widely accepted price point of $59.99 in the United States is coming to an end; in Europe, you’re looking at price points of up to €79.99 for blockbuster PlayStation 5 games like Demon’s Souls. That converts to just shy of $95 on current exchange rates, although it does obviously include tax.
I’ve heard all the arguments for and against the price increases over the past few days. Obviously, I understand that development is more expensive than it’s ever been; there are credits sequences that feel as long as the campaigns they precede, with thousands of artists, programmers, and designers all contributing to a single product these days. Games are bigger than ever; Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has effectively five different fully-fledged modes.
But there’s a barrier in my brain that prevents me from purchasing games once they pass a certain price point, and it looks like publishers such as Sony are eager to position themselves on the other side of that threshold. Now I appreciate I’m in a privileged position because – hands up – I actually get a lot of games for free. I need them to do my job properly, and while I’ve always argued that advanced access to software is more important than the financial savings, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t own up to this fact.
That said, I’m also a publisher’s wet dream; I spend unfathomable sums of money on software every single year, and just because I’m the editor of a popular PlayStation website, it doesn’t mean I don’t pump my own cash into titles I want (or, indeed, need) to play. I’ve never stopped to do the sums, but I’d estimate I spend upwards of £1,000 on games and DLC every single year, which must make me a big spender in relation to the rest of the industry.
Despite all that, I’m not going to pay Sony’s new prices – no matter how much I want to play. This is nothing new: game prices in the UK has been pretty high for the entirety of the generation – particularly on the PlayStation Store. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is currently available to pre-order for £59.99 on Sony’s storefront – that’s almost $80, although again, it does include tax. Amazon UK’s currently carrying the game for the slightly cheaper £54.99, but it’s still far too much.
Those prices will increase to £69.99 with the new generation – frankly unfathomable sums of money to me. Here’s what I’m going to do instead: I’m just not going to buy the games. During my heady early-20s, I’d just allow the cash to flow, purchasing games willy-nilly with nary a care in the world. Most of these games cost half of what they do now, but I realised I never took many of them out of their wrappers. (Sorry, Max Payne 3.) These days, it’d be reckless to be so careless with game purchases when the prices are so high.
I’ve seen some granddads of the games media point out that, “Back in my day we used to pay up to a £100 for a Super Nintendo game!” I get it: games technically are cheap now – especially when you consider that they’ve been resistant to inflation for years. But, frankly, £69.99 is not an affordable price point for the vast majority of people, and in a year where publishers are recording record profits while other industries march towards economic ruin, I’d argue this isn’t even the right time to make a change.
Sony, in fact, has no excuse. Its consoles exist as a vehicle to vacuum up license costs from third-parties and subscription fees; I don’t doubt that games like Demon’s Souls cost a frightening amount of money to make, but they’re effectively there as advertisements for the hardware so that the platform holder can take obscene sums of cash from the organisations who want to take advantage of it. The price increases, particularly outside of the US, seem outrageously unfair to me.
But I’m not going to get my panties all buckled up over it; I just won’t buy the games. Here’s the thing: there will be a drop-off in sales because of this. And if the past few years has proved anything, it’s that prices fall fast. Okay, so I’m not going to be part of the zeitgeist with every new title that releases, but that’s just how it’s going to have to be. I’m not going to criticise anyone for paying full-price at launch, you’re welcome to do what you wish with your money – but this is the right approach for me.
At the end of the day, publishers can put their fingers in their ears and bump up the prices – that’s their prerogative. But we all know these companies live and breathe by selling software, and if there are more people like me, then they’re going to have to adjust fast. Sony’s high pricing on PS5 has been the biggest dampener on an otherwise good week, but it’s all okay – I’ll just wait. The prices will come down – they always come down.
How do you feel about PS5’s new software pricing? How much are you willing to pay for a new release? Cough up in the comments section below.
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