In an earnings call with investors, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick addressed the controversial $70 MSRP for NBA 2K21 on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. While the current gen versions of the game will retail for $60, the game will cost players $70 on next-gen hardware. This has led to concerns that $70 will become the new norm for PS5 and Xbox Series X software, but Zelnick claims that prices will be decided for Take-Two's games on a case-by-case basis. However, the CEO did state that an industry-wide increase in software pricing has been long overdue.
"We're definitely announcing pricing on a title by title basis," said Zelnick. "I would just observe, there hasn't been a frontline price increase for a very long time, although costs have increased significantly. But most importantly, we believe we're delivering the highest quality titles in the business."
Gamers have been quite unhappy with NBA 2K21's price increase, but Zelnick is correct that software pricing has held steady for quite some time. In fact, the average MSRP for video games has actually decreased over the last 30 years, and that's without taking inflation into account. Meanwhile, costs related to development have been steadily increasing. The jump to next-gen hardware will lead to increased costs and longer development time.
It will be interesting to see what games will qualify for the $70 price point, and whether or not other publishers follow suit. As of this writing, it seems that most in the industry have been non-committal. Last month, Xbox boss Phil Spencer claimed that the customer will eventually set prices based on what they are willing to pay, but it's worth noting that Spencer did not reveal how much the company's first-party games will retail for.
Despite pressure from fans, it doesn't seem that Take-Two has any has any immediate plans to budge on NBA 2K21's pricing. According to Zelnick, the company will simply have to make fans feel that the value is equal to the cost.
"Games have extraordinary playability and replay-ability. And they offer many, many hours of entertainment. We think it's a great value," said Zelnick. "It does rely on our continuing to deliver amazing experiences, and that's our strategy and our goal."
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