Following an earnings call last Wednesday, AAA developer Ubisoft revealed that the price tag for upcoming autumnal releases will not exceed the well established $60 mark (US). This follows hot on the heels of a previous reveal by gamesindustry.biz. It discovered that popular ball-bouncing simulator NBA 2K21 would launch on PS5 and Xbox Series X at a $10 premium compared to the current-gen release.
Addressing attendees of the GameLab conference earlier this year, former PlayStation executive Shawn Layden said,
“It’s been $59.99 since I started in this business, but the cost of games has 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.”
Sweet, sweet release
So good news then, and a move that may well be followed by other publishers keen to take the top-spot on release day. But hold up on the champagne for a minute there sport. Although Ubisoft has confirmed this will be the case for both Watch Dogs Legion and Assassins Creed: Valhalla, they have as yet made no promise to continue the price cut beyond 2020. With the PS5 due for release in November, and the Xbox Series X during the holiday period, this has the unmistakable whiff of PR all over it.
As reported on Twitter by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier who attended the call, Ubisoft was unwilling to confirm whether this would be a pervasive pricing practice, continuing beyond the honey-moon launch period.
Watch Dogs are for life, not just for Christmas
On the call, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot commented,
“For the Christmas games, we plan to come with the same price as the previous generation of consoles. That’s what we’re focused on at the moment… We said earlier that for the $60 price, we are concentrating on the Christmas releases, and those games will launch at $60.”
And there, as they say, is the rub. If it was Ubisoft’s intention to keep prices down throughout the lifespan of the next-gen consoles, then why not make that clear? The only reason is that this is quite clearly not the plan.
Whether or not the price point for exceptional, “AAA” titles should be $60 or higher is beyond the scope of this article. But it’s by no means cheap, and with penny-pinching practices rife throughout the industry, a little integrity could go a lot further than a glorified two month sale.
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