According to a Q&A from video game retailer GAME, EA is currently planning to retail their next generation console games for £54.99. If the report is accurate, EA is the first third-party publisher to announce a price point for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games. Both Microsoft and Sony have indicated that they are not planning on altering the standard price of games for their respective consoles but that doesn’t mean that other companies can’t raise the price on their own.
It is still not completely clear whether this will apply to all EA games or just the bigger more popular franchises such as Battlefield. So far there isn’t any information on what other third party companies plan to retail their games for. However, it would be extremely risky on EA’s part to price their games higher than competitors such as Activision and Ubisoft. If this turns out to be the case, then it wouldn’t be surprising to later find out that other publishers will be upping their prices as well.
Cliff Bleszinksi, former designer for Epic Games, in recent months has been trying to warn consumers about the collapse of the current price model for games. The cost of a producing a AAA game is so astronomical that these games usually need to sell in the millions in order to be successful. This is why many companies have been trying different price models such as free to play (with micro transactions) and pushing unpopular practices such as DRM in order combat used games and piracy which eat away at the profit needed to sustain the AAA market. To put this in perspective, the critically acclaimed reboot of Tomb Raider released this earlier year has sold over 3.4 million copies but was considered a failure by publisher Square Enix.
This increase in price might be just another way that publishers such as EA are trying to rescue the AAA market. Perhaps the extra profit created by the increase in price will offset enough of the losses produced by used game sales and piracy. With the new generation of consoles incoming, now would be the opportune time to try something different before gamers come to expect the same prices as the current generation.
It remains to be seen what will happen to the smaller A-AA titles. While self published indie games and smaller mobile type games continue to grow, companies such as Atlus that produce smaller scale and more niche types of games are growing fewer in number. Maybe there will be a new strategy for these types of games going forward, or maybe not and we will be left with higher priced AAA titles and budget priced indie and mobile titles.
What do you think the prices of games should be going forward? Is the increase in cost a small price to pay to sustain the AAA market or will you not support companies that try alter the current price model? Share your ideas and comments below.