This week marks the start of the new console generation, and no matter which machine you're looking at, the fact is that thousands of people throwing down a few hundred dollars on new hardware will also pay a bit more for some new games. On the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X, games like NBA 2K21 and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War cost $70 for their standard editions, a jump in price of $10 over their previous-gen counterparts
According to a report from Bloomberg, Sony discussed the possibility of raising the price even higher than $70. The exact timing of such talks is unknown, and Bloomberg points out that raising the standard price of games "has been plotted and dissected by executives for years." Later in the piece, a spokeswoman for Sony is quoted as saying that the price increase to $70 is "reflective of the growing development resources needed for these ambitious games."
Similar reasoning was cited by Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick earlier this year in reference to NBA 2K21's increase in price. For years, it's been the opinion of many in the industry that $60 has been too low given rising development costs and lack of adjustment for inflation, and now a handful of PS5 and Xbox Series S/X titles will test to see how buyers respond.
While Sony's status as a platform holder and first-party publisher means its decisions on price can have a greater effect on the industry's trajectory, it's still not quite committing to a $70 norm with the launch of the PS5. Bluepoint's Demon's Souls remake is taking the $10 bump, but smaller experiences like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure are coming in at $50 and $60, respectively.
It's quite possible that Sony and other publishers were eyeing a price higher than $70 before the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic turmoil. The $10 bump can seem particularly ill-timed this year in that context, but again, the huge move toward special editions and premium DLC seen over the last generation can be seen as a way to make up for low standard prices (also, it's not as though those trends are going away overnight with a new price tag).
Further complicating matters regarding price are Xbox Game Pass and Microsoft's push for its Smart Delivery standard with cross-gen games. The existence of a low cost subscription plan granting full access to large first-party titles undeniably exerts a bit of downward pressure on price, but the idea that purchasing an Xbox One title should also freely grant access to the next-gen version means that participating titles like Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Yakuza: Like a Dragon are staying pegged at $60 across platforms.
Right now, the upshot of all of this is that you can't assume a given title will launch at either $60 or $70. After over a decade of seeing many publishers release multiple deluxe versions of games, however, it shouldn't come as news that publishers have been cooling on the $60 norm for a while.