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Letters from the Front

As we rapidly head towards next generation, more and more details about the next consoles keep on coming. We have the full specs of the consoles and we have the designs of the consoles. Another revelation came a couple days ago from 2K Games, who confirmed that the next generation of NBA 2K will begin at $70. I fully expect to see the games appearing both on the consoles and on PC to rise as well, as development costs continue to skyrocket and accommodate the next generation of hardware in the coming decade. This bump in price also accommodates the market, inflation, and other financial areas.

Mat Piscatella of NPD said that the $70 price increase should’ve happened 7 years ago, noting that developers, were quite jumpy about the low prices that were being offered by the mobile games in that particular era. It seems that the different areas of the market tend to overlap, rather than eat each other up as we previously believed. In my opinion, the increased price of $70 is a tough sell to many, particularly as we’re on the verge of a worldwide recession as much of the world struggles with the coronavirus and the fallout of the coronavirus when it eventually dissipates, if it all, but that’s a different take for another day. In this particular scenario, I believe that services like Xbox Game Pass would come out being the ultimate winner and here’s my hot take on this.

The first developer to break the price increase was 2K, with their upcoming title, NBA 2K21. The current generation game will still sell at your typical $59.99, but if you want the next generation version of NBA 2K21, you’ll have to shell out an extra $10 and in my opinion, this move isn’t ethical or doesn’t make sense as you can’t tell me that 2K21 isn’t a $70 game, but that’s a different take for another day. I suspect that we’ll see other companies like Electronic Arts and Bethesda make similar moves in the coming days and weeks to come, I believe that $70 will be the new base in the coming generation.

Sport games, like 2K21 and Madden, have a fair amount of overheads which includes licensing deals, but they are also massively popular. So popular that they don’t get backlash on the MTX that would literally bury any other game that isn’t a sports game, the MTX in 2K21 and Madden are a massive driver for much of the revenue that makes EA and 2K richer and richer every passing year. Still, that doesn’t take away, that developing these games are getting more and more expensive to develop as the industry gets increasingly more and more competitive with salaries to match. The argument can be made that the CEOs of these companies make too much money, for example, Bobby Kotick of Activision, he was in the spotlight recently when he was accused by his own shareholders of earning too much money. In 2019, Kotick took home $30 million when his company was flanked by layoffs and controversy. An investment group filed a motion with the US government over the criticism.

Whether or not the price of games should go up is a different topic for a different day and a different article. Whichever side you land on this hot topic debate, you can’t deny that services like Xbox Game Pass will succeed and grow as a result.

PART I: Subscriptions & Freemium Models Will Grow

In the event of all games rising to $70 in the new generation, Xbox Game Pass and other services like it would gain new followers and the services would grow as a result. Xbox Game Pass is already a massive success, lauded for its value as the Netflix of games with the cheap monthly payment of only $9.99. Microsoft rotates the service with indie titles and some of the biggest triple A games on the market, like The Witcher 3, which keeps the service fresh and exciting. I’m in a lucky position to buy all these games, but as a kid who grew up with the original Xbox and the Xbox 360, Xbox Game Pass would’ve been a godsend, and those facing hard economic hardships as a result of the current world situation or otherwise will naturally gain a lot of value from services like Xbox Game Pass.

Besides Xbox Game Pass which already offers a lot of value, we’ve already seen the riches that comes with freemium games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Battle Royale mode Warzone. If games do end up being $70 across the board in the coming generation, I predict that a lot more games will go the freemium route in the new generation.

PART II: The Landscape Will Grow In The Next Generation

At the beginning of the generation, we saw digital games and freemium games become more commonplace as opposed to the previous generation in an industry that was rapidly changing. In this upcoming generation, streaming services will be more commonplace and will have a huge role to play. Microsoft is attempting to build Xbox as a platform where you’re able to play their games anywhere and at any time through Project xCloud where Microsoft is stretching Xbox and PC quality games to devices that traditionally haven’t been powerful enough, for example like an old PC from 2013 and smart TVs alongside phones. In the event of games going to that $70 price point, streaming services will have a role to play. It’s going to be a unique ride for gaming in this new decade and I can’t wait to see where it goes. The landscape will grow in this new generation.

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