Recently the folks over at Take-Two Interactive came out and announced that the upcoming NBA 2k21 will cost $70 on next generation machines like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, while current generation editions will remain at $60. The two reactions I’ve encountered most have been people grousing at this price adjustment, and those who think a price hike has been long overdo. For the most part I find myself agreeing with the latter sentiment in general, but sincerely believe that NBA 2k21 should not be the game to usher in this new price tag without making massive changes to the formula that the 2K series has recently followed.
There are a ton of reasons why I don’t think NBA 2k21 can justify this new price tag, but chief among them has to be their pretty disgusting monetization practices they’ve exhibited in the past few years. I wrote all about their gross business practices alongside the overall state of the game itself a while ago, and I just cannot conceive of a world where NBA 2k21 ditches any of those micro-transactions because they got ten extra dollars upfront.
Maybe you’re like me however, and don’t engage with any of the modes that hit you up for money, surely the higher price tag is something you can live with? I suppose you could justify that approach, but as someone who exclusively plays the franchise modes in these games I can 100% tell you that you aren’t getting anything new. The franchise modes in the past few iterations have been pretty identical, offering little to nothing in terms of new features or even UI design.
The hopeful, starry-eyed version of myself that exists somewhere inside of me thinks, “well at least developers will be getting more money for their work,” which they %110 deserve, but I don’t believe they’ll see a single cent of this revenue. With the ballooning cost of game development it makes sense that games would increase in price, but not one particle of my being believes that this money will make its way to the people who are crunching for hours to make James Harden’s beard look fluffier.
Games have remained at the $60 price point for the past two generations now and definitely need to increase in price. But when you read stories about how Take-Two Interactive made a third of their revenue in three months thanks to micro-transactions, but then turns around and says that the increased price is to account for the rising costs of features like “3D audio” and 8K textures, it’s a little hard to swallow that pill.
The economics of the video game industry are complicated and I don’t claim to understand them fully, but unless this extra money is being fed directly into the development budgets or even better, into the pockets of employees, then I can’t help but feel like this is Take-Two deciding that from now on, their games will bring in at least ten more dollars per sale and not actually raising prices as a response to high development costs.
Gaming is an expensive hobby, and it’s only getting less accessible when you account for the projected high cost of the upcoming consoles and online service fees. Especially now, when a lot of people are out of work and might not have extra cash to throw around, announcing your price adjustment is an absolutely tone-deaf and utterly wild thing to do. Another wild thing to do is to not honor Vince Carter, the only NBA player to play across 4 decades, and put him on one of the 4 different versions of the game.