The fierce debate regarding the price of games rumbles on, driven almost exclusively by Returnal right now. Housemarque’s upcoming PlayStation 5 exclusive roguelike is bringing a bunch of interesting ideas to the table, but discourse surrounding the game is pointed at its $69.99 price point. In a Push Square interview, the Finnish studio stressed that it’s “doing our half of the value proposition” by making a great game; obviously the debate will rumble on, regardless of the title’s overall quality.
The first publisher to officially announce a PS5 price increase was Take-Two, with its next-gen version of NBA 2K21. And speaking as part of a conference this week, as transcribed by VGC, boss Strauss Zelnick still believes it was the right decision: “We announced a $70 price point for NBA 2K21, our view was that we’re offering an array of extraordinary experiences, lots of replayability, and the last time there was a frontline price increase in the US was 2005, 2006, so we think consumers were ready for it.”
Zelnick, however, did continue that Take-Two has not announced a price increase for its entire slate of software, and stressed that the publisher will adjust on a case-by-case basis: “We all know anecdotally that even if you love a consumer experience, if you feel you were overcharged for it, it ruins the experience, you don’t want to have it again. [If you] go to a great restaurant – a really, really fine restaurant – have a great meal and great service, then you get a bill that’s double what you think it should be, you’re never going back.”
He added that Take-Two’s policy is, effectively, to overdeliver and undercharge: “So we always want to make sure that consumers feel like we deliver much more than we ask in return, and that’s true for our current consumer spending as well. We’re an entertainment company, we’re here to captivate and engage consumers, and if we do that then monetisation follows.”
The higher price hasn’t exactly hurt NBA 2K21’s sales, as it was one of 2020’s better selling games – although it’s worth remembering that it did have a cheaper PS4 alternative. But it’ll be interesting to see how titles perform moving forwards, with Europe particularly feeling the pinch, as tax and exchange rates can push the price of some games well in excess of $100. As alluded to at the start of this article, Returnal may prove to be the real acid test here.