Video games have fluctuated the price of entry for years. Video games used to cost $69.99 and I’m glad I wasn’t a part of that time. That’s a special edition these days because we live in a time where the standard for game prices is $60 for most big-budget games. For a long time, people were fine with this. For the experiences and value you get, $60 was fine. In recent times, that price tag has come under fire thanks to the rise of monetization through various means. Still, the price persisted and whether the games of today have earned it or not is up to who you ask.
A Case Study
If you ask me what type of games don’t deserve that $60 price tag, the answer would be sports games. The genre has become annualized and overly monetized trash that has no right to be $60 when all it really accomplishes is being a patch update and a new way to milk out money. I could forgive that if save files carried over. Maybe I could forgive that if they didn’t have so many microtransactions and loot boxes. I could even forgive the price if they didn’t have special editions for all these perks, coins, and crap that’ll be rendered useless when the next installment comes. Really, who cares that you got the %0.000001 chance player card if you’re gonna have to do it again in the 2021 game? Given all of that, I find it comical that a sports game is the first to reveal that the next generation is considering the $70 price tag.
I’ll be quite honest with all of you. If a good developer came out and said their game would be $70, then this wouldn’t be so funny. Any AAA game would be better than announcing 2K21 is the first game to be $70. This comes after the announcement that they have their own bastardized version of Microsoft’s Smart Delivery where buying the current-gen game guarantee’s a copy of the next-gen game. NBA 2K21 will only allow you to do this if you get the Mamba Forever edition, and even then you only get the standard edition for your PS5 or Xbox Series X. Why does that matter? Because the Mamba Forever edition also nets you all sorts of in-game bonuses such as in-game currency, various perks and boosts, and a collection of Kobe Bryant‘s gear for your premade character. All of that is stuck on the Mamba Edition, which costs $99.99 by the way.
How Special is the Special Edition
At the time of writing, I noticed that despite the next-gen standard editions are $10 more than the current-gen counterparts, but the Mamba Edition costs the same no matter what. That confuses me given 2K’s statements on why the standard edition for 2K21 price hike happened. They emphasized value. A fun drinking game would be to take a shot every time you see the word value in that statement. Yet, is that to say that the Mamba Edition is of variable value? Which would make sense because it’s loaded with garbage, but that’s neither here nor there really. I just found that interesting. Speaking of, am I the only one who hates these executives for using Kobe Bryant to push this trash?
Nickel and dime us
For all these developers talking about these leaps and bounds new games will take, are they that big of a leap to warrant another $10? While I’m skeptical, it very well could be. We haven’t seen too much of the next-gen to say. However, the game that they use to convince us is 2K21? What makes this even more laughable is the discussions around game development these days. “Microtransactions have to exist because if they didn’t, games would be more expensive.” A sound argument on the surface, but now that games will be more expensive will microtransactions go away? The extra offerings in the Mamba Forever Edition suggest not. The truth is that the only sales numbers that matter are the ones that continuously climb higher. This’ll just be heir latest scheme to make that happen.
What’s insulting about games needing monetization is the hoops publishers go through to spend less money. Activision doesn’t pay taxes and instead gets a tax rebate of $243M back thanks to their tax haven in another country. Electronic Arts regularly evades taxes despite already being in a low tax bracket. The CEOs of these companies collect millions in bonuses ranging from performance to… just because. Developers on the ground floor are constantly overworked and unable to unionize, but their wages never increase. And sometimes these companies cut more than 800 jobs to increase in revenue even when they saw “record results” that year. There is just so much evidence that this was not about paying for games. This is about lining the pockets of executives while doing the bare minimum. The $10 hike just seems like the next move to make them even richer. With all this free money being given to them from the government at the expense of hard working taxpayers, the quality of games has not increased. One would think to reinvest in the company to make better games yet that’s not the case.
$10 Is Not That Much Money…
“It’s not a big deal. It’s just an extra $10 though! If you can’t afford it, then you shouldn’t be gaming!” I hear you say. To that, I say this: most can afford the extra $10. However, if we are paying more then shouldn’t we expect more and better? If they’re going to raise the cost, then shouldn’t they decrease the ways they try to milk money out of you? We as a collective got here because we didn’t expect better. We didn’t say “Nah, that’s too far” except on extreme measures. Making games $70 isn’t the issue. What they call “value” is what gives me pause.
A Sign of the Times
If CD Projekt Red announced today that the next-gen copies of Cyberpunk 2077 would be $70, it’d be a bitter pill. But given their past of pro-consumer and the quality of their games, I’d pay up. NBA 2K21 hasn’t fostered such trust. So I wonder what “value” that extra $10 gets you. If they make the best NBA game and do something radical like yearly updates instead of yearly games, I’ll come back and eat my words. Hell, I’ll write a letter to Strauss Zelnick himself, apologizing for ever doubting his quality and value. But I got a pretty good feeling that I won’t have to do that.