Is 70 dollars a fair price for PS5 games? Nope. There’s been a lot made about the price of PlayStation 5 games. For the first time since the mid-2000s, the price of video games has budged off the 60 dollar gold standard. When asked about it recently, Sony CEO Jim Ryan said he felt it was a fair price given the hours of entertainment received. I’m here to tell you that he’s wrong. The price should be higher.
An unpopular opinion
I’ll be the first to recognize my take on this is not a popular one. “How dare she shill for the gaming industry?!” I hear you yelling. Indeed, I’ve seen all manner of reporters across the industry lambast Sony’s greed for budging off the 60 dollar standard. However, that shift was beyond overdue. The inability of developers to get more than 60 dollars out of their games is what directly led to the advent of microtransactions and eventually loot boxes as we know them today.
If you hate things like season passes and DLC on release, you have that 60 dollar price point to thank for it. In the absence of being able to charge more directly for the game, developers naturally turned to other methods of making more from their game. And the reasons they need to are pretty simple. Inflation of currency, and the ballooning of development and marketing costs. Let’s take the halcyon days of 1997. A new game was typically around $50.00. Well, a quick trip to the inflation calculator shows us that fifty dollars in 1997 is the equivalent of about $81.12 in today’s currency. So even if the costs of game development had only adjusted up for inflation, games should cost at least 80 dollars.
The ballooning cost of game development
Of course, the cost of game development isn’t just increasing with inflation. Games today are much larger experiences than they were in 1997. The graphical work of modern games alone costs exponentially more than it did in the ’90s. Take a look at Midgar in Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII Remake. How much more cost and time-intensive would you imagine it was to design the graphics in the remake?
In addition, games reach a much wider audience than they did when we were growing up. This is both a good and a bad thing. While it means they will sell more copies, thus helping to off-set the ballooning development costs, it also means a marketing budget. With a wider audience comes more competition, and a need to stand out above the crowd. These issues left developers with a need to find a way to make more than sixty dollars on their games, and thus the microtransaction hellscape we live in today.
So is 70 dollars a fair price for PS5 games?
In a vacuum, I can just say no. I can say that video games should probably be priced between 90 and 100 dollars apiece, and that should be the standard. But that would come with the caveat that developers continue developing in the same way they are now and doing so for free. If I’m dropping 100 dollars on a game out the box, I better not ever have to pay for new skins or a new season of content.
But the question is can that happen? Games as a service are here to stay, and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon. The new expectation is that a game will continue to grow and evolve over time. How do you do that without charging for season passes and new DLC? I truly don’t know, I’m not sure you can. The ugly truth is, I think the standard should be $80 dollars and then DLC as we have it now. In that, I’m happy it’s only going up to $70 dollars. No, I don’t think 70 dollars is a fair price for a PS5 game, but I think it’s only right given the abuses perpetrated on consumers over the last decade.