God Of War Director Favours PS5 Price Increase Over 'Microtransaction Hellscape'
There's been a lot of discussion recently about the likely prospect of increased prices for next-gen games. Earlier this month, we got our first real idea of what a PlayStation 5/Xbox Series X game would cost when it emerged that NBA 2K21 will have a recommended retail price of $69.99/£64.99 when it launches on next-gen consoles later this year.
While that's only £5 more than the PS4 and Xbox One version, it's reignited an old debate regarding sustainability in the industry. How do you continue deliver increasingly ambitious video games with eye-watering graphics and massive worlds, while making sure the consumer can actually afford more than three or four games a year?
There are several schools of thought as to how approach this next-gen price increase. God Of War director Cory Barlog is one of the developers who thinks that this was inevitable, and is in fact preferable to a future in which games are sold for the same price as always - but are rammed with "cash grab microtransactions" in an effort to recoup costs.
Writing on Twitter, Barlog said: "Games need to go up in price. I prefer an initial increase in price to the always-on cash grab microtransaction-filled hellscape that some games have become."
It should be worth noting that the NBA 2K franchise, which ignited this entire debate, is infamous for shoving ridiculous microtransactions into its games. I can't imagine the increased cost of the next-gen version will have done anything to negate the upcoming game's approach to in-game purchases... but we also can't hold up NBA 2K as the industry standard, thankfully.
Regardless, I'm sure we can all see where Barlog is coming from. Bigger games demand more resources, which costs more money. How are developers and publishers supposed to make a profit?
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PlayStation boss Shawn Layden recently warned that current AAA development is "just not sustainable", referencing the fact that most AAA games currently cost anywhere between $80m and $150m to develop.
"The problem with that model is it's just not sustainable," he explained, (via GamesIndustry.biz). "I don't think that, in the next generation, you can take those numbers and multiply them by two and think that you can grow.
"It's been $59.99 since I started in this business, but the cost of games have gone up ten times. If you don't have elasticity on the price-point, but you have huge volatility on the cost line, the model becomes more difficult. I think this generation is going to see those two imperatives collide."
Layden then suggested that developers should start focusing on shorter games that cost less to make, explaining that "it's hard for every adventure game to shoot for the 50 to 60-hour gameplay milestone, because that's gonna be so much more expensive to achieve.
"And in the end you may close some interesting creators and their stories out of the market if that's the kind of threshold they have to meet... We have to reevaluate that. I think the industry as a whole needs to sit back and go, 'Alright, what are we building? What's the audience expectation? What is the best way to get our story across, and say what we need to say?'"
I know I'd rather pay an extra fiver per game or have a shorter experience than deal with a future where microtransactions are in every title. It's already bad enough as it is.
Featured Image Credit: Sony/Let'sGoDigital