Next-gen video games cost £70 - this is something that has become apparent in the last month.
Sony, with the in-demand PlayStation 5 near launch, has decided Demon's Souls, Destruction AllStars, and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition all cost £69.99 each. On ShopTo, Gran Turismo 7 costs £69.85 - 14 pence cheaper than RRP. So does PS5 game Returnal. Clearly, if you want to get into PS5 gaming, the true cost of next-gen is £70 games.
But Sony is not alone in selling £70 next-gen games. I've had a look around, and I can't help but feel we're being shafted. PS5 launch title Godfall, published by Borderlands developer Gearbox, costs £70 on Sony's console. The PC version, exclusive to the Epic Games Store for now, costs £50. I know PC games, which are downloads not discs, tend to be cheaper than their console counterparts. But why is Godfall £20 more expensive on PS5 than it is on PC? That doesn't seem right. I asked Gearbox for an explanation for the cost of Godfall, but it has yet to comment.
Here's another game that seems outrageously priced: Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. On GAME's website, the next-gen versions (PS5 and Xbox Series X) both cost £70 each. The current-gen versions cost £65, which seems ridiculous (they're £60 elsewhere - nice one GAME). Activision is pushing the digital-only cross-gen bundle version of the game, which costs £65 on the PlayStation Store as well as the Microsoft Store. The publisher is not offering a free next-gen upgrade, like other publishers are. It is not making use of Microsoft's Smart Delivery, like other publishers are. If you want to upgrade to next-gen from current-gen, you may have to pay an extra tenner (we've asked Activision how much it will cost, but it hasn't confirmed yet). So you should probably get the £65 cross-gen bundle, just in case. They've got us there, haven't they?
There's more: Hogwarts Legacy is £70. Gotham Knights is £70. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is £70. It's clear: £70 is the new next-gen normal.
But why? Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick defended his company's decision to hike the price of the 2K basketball game on next-gen. In an interview with Protocol, Zelnick said: "The bottom line is that we haven't seen a front-line price increase for nearly 15 years, and production costs have gone up 200 to 300 per cent.
"But more to the point since no one really cares what your production costs are, what consumers are able to do with the product has completely changed.
"We deliver a much, much bigger game for $60 or $70 than we delivered for $60 10 years ago. The opportunity to spend money online is completely optional, and it's not a free-to-play title. It's a complete, incredibly robust experience even if you never spend another penny after your initial purchase."
I get where Zelnick is coming from - to a point. I remember paying (I mean, my parents paying) north of £70 for Street Fighter 2 on the SNES in 1993. That we're getting to that point now nearly 30 years later speaks volumes that video game prices were due for a hike a long time ago.
But what we're looking at here is a hike of up to £20, and I have a big issue with that. And it gets worse when you convert currency. Demon's Souls is $70 in the US. At the time of publication, that's £55. Not £70.
I should point out that not all publishers are taking the price hike approach at the launch of the next-gen. Ubisoft and EA are offering free next-gen upgrades. Assassin's Creed: Valhalla costs £52 on all consoles, and if you get it on current-gen, you'll get a free upgrade to the next-gen version. FIFA 21 costs £50 on current-gen, and you get a free next-gen upgrade via EA's Dual Entitlement feature. CD Projekt has already promised a free Cyberpunk 2077 next-gen upgrade for whenever it's released.
But I expect most publishers will end up shooting for £70 when we've waved the current-gen behind and we're all aboard the next-gen good and proper. Assassin's Creed whatever it is, FIFA 22-through 30, The Witcher 4 - I suspect they will all cost £70 on PS5 and Xbox Series X.
I've spent some time thinking about the impact of this next-gen price hike, particularly as we spiral towards a global recession the likes we haven't seen in a generation, and I have come to the conclusion that the PS5 is beyond me, financially, and I'm sure it's the same for many others. I do not think this will have any material impact on the success of PS5 at launch of course, which is why Sony can get away with it and other publishers are following suit. The people who have the money to buy a video game console at launch tend to have the money to buy a few games to play on it. But I can't see the mainstream forking out £70 for next-gen games in the short term, at least.
It is not the same situation on Xbox, and with both the Xbox Series X and PS5 looking pretty similar in terms of power, and Sony's backtrack on PS5 exclusives meaning most of the console's launch titles are on PS4 also, the point of difference this gen as I see it is subscriptions.
Microsoft has made Xbox Series X and S available via its All Access program, which has so far been a bit of a mess but in principle is a fantastic way of making next-gen gaming more accessible at launch. And then there's Game Pass, which, in the context of £70 next-gen games, is more than a great deal to me: it is essential.
Now, I'm aware Microsoft is coming out the end of this looking good, so it's worth remembering we don't know how much Microsoft will charge for its next-gen games yet. With Halo Infinite delayed to 2021, Microsoft hasn't had to price its next big shooter because it's not coming out any time soon. I can't wait to see where it lands, given the multiplayer will be free. But what we do know is it'll be part of Xbox Game Pass day one. If I started a subscription the day Halo Infinite comes out, I could play it for a month for £1.
But what will Fallout 5 cost on Xbox Series X? What will The Elder Scrolls 6 cost on Xbox Series X? The next Doom? What about the next big RPG from Obsidian? The next Gears game? Rare's lovely-looking Everwild? It'll be fascinating to find out.
For now, I'm playing Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PlayStation 4, and I'm playing Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War on PC, where it costs £50. But I'm not playing Demon's Souls, the only genuine next-gen exclusive out this November that I am desperate to play, at all. And I'm pretty sad about that.