2K Games has announced that it’ll sell the next-gen PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of the upcoming NBA 2K21 for $69.99, a $10 increase to the current-gen Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game. And it’s the first indication that the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 may be bringing a price increase from the standard $60 that major video games have been sold at for years when they arrive this fall.
Most video games have been sold at a $60 price since the “seventh-gen” console era of the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, and the Nintendo Wii, which was a $10 price increase from the $50 standard that had preceded it. But if NBA 2K21 is any indication, that $60 era is about to be over: assuming other game studios follow 2K Games’ lead here, the PS5 and Xbox Series X could see $70 games become the new norm for AAA titles.
The price increase isn’t out of the blue: as games become more and more complex and detailed, it becomes more and more expensive for developers to create a single title. And we’ve already started to see prices creep upward in the current generation with more expensive “deluxe” or “gold” editions of titles that include extra bonus content, cosmetics, or DLC.
But for players about to shell out hundreds of dollars on a new console, it’s not exactly exciting to see that all the new games coming out might be even more expensive, too.
Even more frustrating is the fact that, in addition to the $60 current-gen and $70 next-gen versions, 2K Games will also sell a special $99.99 “Mamba Forever Edition,” which includes cross-generation copies. As 2K’s press release explains, “purchasing Mamba Forever Edition on either current or next-generation platforms provides a copy of the standard edition game on the other generation at no additional cost, within the same console family.”
If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s virtually identical to the Smart Delivery program that Microsoft is offering for the Xbox Series X and Xbox One or the free upgrades that studios like CD Projekt Red or Bungie have promised for Cyberpunk 2077 and Destiny 2. But instead of offering those cross-gen upgrades for free, 2K Games is charging players extra for the privilege.
It’s even more restrictive than EA’s “Dual Entitlement” program for Madden 21, which offers players a free next-gen upgrade but attaches a time limit to the offer. (Players will have until the launch of Madden 22 to take advantage.)
Historically, the “Legend Edition” of NBA 2K has always been sold for $99, serving as the deluxe edition of the game that includes a variety other in-game items and content. The Mamba Forever Edition will also offer compared to the standard versions of the game. In a statement given to The Verge, an NBA 2K spokesperson explained that the company views the additional access on both console generations as an “extra convenience” included as part of the bonus content included in the $99 version “rather than view it as cross-buy.”
Update July 2nd, 3:10pm: Added 2K Games statement on additional content included in the Mamba Forever Edition.