The topic of next-gen game pricing has been a hot one for quite some time. In Australia, Xbox Series X games will hit as much as $120, while in the US prices are ticking over the $70 mark. For both regions, those price points are very high, and typically above the $99.99 and $50 current-gen RRP, respectively.
The likes of Sony, Take-Two and Activision have all revealed next-gen game pricing, alongside some relatively complex (and arguably anti-consumer) upgrade mechanisms in order to activate the game on next-gen hardware.
NBA 2K21 for example is essentially two different games: you can buy the current-gen version, and then invest in another copy on Xbox Series X or PS5, or alternatively buy the more expensive current-gen version, which grants you next-gen access. Call of Duty has taken a similar route.
Cyberpunk 2077 on the other hand will give gamers current-gen and next-gen access at no extra cost: you can buy the current-gen version and then simply update the game later on via your new console when the “upgraded” next-gen version is ready, or alternative simply wait until said version is released.
The Take-Two/Activision method has seen the most wrath from gamers given it effectively increases the entry price point of games but also incentivises current-gen purchases, raising doubts as to the genuine upgrade offered for Series X versions.
This dilemma was put forward to Xbox Games marketing GM, Aaron Greenberg, on the Real Deal Podcast (via gamesindustry.biz), and he didn’t mince his words when it comes to the overall value and offering presented on the Xbox Series X.
“Gaming pricing is a super-complex thing to answer,” he explained. “In the old days, every game launched at one price and that was it. But we launched Ori and the Will of the Wisps at $30, and Gears Tactics is a new title launching this holiday and it’s launching at $60 … [so] there’s not a simple answer to that except to say that Tactics we’re launching at $60.”
This might be Greenberg beating around the bush and not wanting to compare Xbox to other platforms or publishers, but the point he appears to be making is that, ultimately pricing varies depending on the type of game, the platform, and the release window.
Greenberg also pointed to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla‘s $60 price, as well as the next-gen upgrade plan for Cyberpunk 2077, that potentially suggests higher pricing is the exception rather than the norm.
“There are some exceptions of titles where we’ve seen, particularly for sports games, where they’re coming out in advance of the next generation and they don’t have smart delivery, they’re including the Gen 9 version and charging you more,” he said. NBA 2K21 is one of those sports games.
Greenberg then pointed to Game Pass and the Smart Delivery system to highlight how integral the Xbox ecosystem is to the company’s long-term plans.
“It’s a different approach,” he continued, “and they have a right to do whatever they want to do with their pricing. But for us, we’ve really taken a fan-centric approach, first with Smart Delivery, and most importantly, you get all our games at launch with Game Pass.”
Game Pass, for anyone living under a rock, is a Netflix-like subscription that grants players access to more than 100 games, as well as EA Play (from November 10), and potentially recently-release Bethesda games. On this point, Greenberg was firm.
“So does the price of a game even matter, if it’s included in your Game Pass subscription?”
What are your thoughts on next-gen pricing, as well as Greenberg’s comments? Sound off in the comments below!