In the past two weeks it’s become pretty clear that the PS5 and Xbox Series X aren’t just going to be expensive games consoles, but rather their gaming ecosystems will come at a cost too. From the time NBA 2K21 was revealed going for US$70, one thing has become clear about the next generation of gaming; it’s going to be even MORE expensive. And I wonder just how most Zimbabweans will cope with that.
Now let’s clear the air here, I know a of you are wondering why I would be writing about video game prices in the middle of a pandemic, and you have a fair point. Honestly, this article should have come out about a week ago when the NBA announcement was made. But even if it wasn’t, this following point would still remain: these games and these consoles are being released at very expensive prices in the middle of the aforementioned pandemic as well. Both Sony and Microsoft aren’t relenting in releasing the PS5 or Xbox Series X, and fans don’t seem to mind that too much. And yes, this probably should bring up some thoughts about people’s collective numbness to the growing pains of the world in a time like this, but that’s a discussion for another time. The discussion for now however, is simple. How are any of us supposed to buy and play these games?
Well let’s start with explaining why these games are becoming more expensive. The easiest answer is of course the generational switch. The PS5 and Series X are both coming out as premium gaming machines, capable of new features and games that the PS4 and Xbox one simply can’t achieve. And since these consoles can demand top tier pricing for these new features, the game studios behind them are also convinced it’s the best time to get a price increase on the games they deliver, which is actually something they have been aiming to do for a long time. Game development costs have been rising year over year for the past decade, with games like Destiny having budgets comparable to big-time blockbuster movies (i.e. the hundreds of millions) and of course high sales can help make up that cost but so does a higher price or more steady revenue streams. This is why games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 became infamous for predatory loot boxes and other microtransactions meant to essentially suck the profit out of every player. One can hope (as shown in the above IGN discussion video) that the coming higher price might cause a drop in microtransactions for these new games, but that’s also yet to be seen as many video game studios are of the predatory lot as well.
So will Zimbabweans be able to buy these games? Well, that question probably winds back to whether most of us can even afford the PS5 or Series X. After all this would mean you buy a US $500-550 console, which in Zim will likely get sold at a minimum of $800, and maybe have to buy these games starting at $100, especially if they are brand new. Which honestly, doesn’t work for most people, especially when buying a PS4 or Xbox would actually still be a pretty lucrative option for at least the next 3 or 4 years. In fact, on the Xbox side of things Microsoft pretty much plans to make the Xbox One and One X reliable machines for a while, with the Series X being the cutting edge of a variated product line, hence there’ll be no exclusives for the Series X for at least a year apparently. Sony isn’t taking a similar stance however, but both it and Microsoft are planning to leverage subscription services to help gamers deal with the rising costs. Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass has actually gained quite the worthy praise from gamers as it gives you access to 200+ games from across the Xbox product line for a subscription as low as US$4 per month, including brand new exclusive games like the latest Forza, Halo, or Assassin’s Creed. Unfortunately these services are also a little niche, as despite the price differences, they essentially require a user to almost always be online to download the games and authenticate their account when playing, which is not the common Zimbabwean situation. However, there could be some leeway here as chances are anyone with a PS5 or Series X in their home by the end of this year should have the money for solid unlimited home internet. Let’s just hope they can take the 100GB downloads for the games too.
And that pretty much wraps up our thoughts on this whole price increase debacle. For now, most of us might have to sit the PS5 and Series X out. Is that fun? No. But almost every Zimbo knows there’s more important things to deal with right now. To whoever gets thePS5 or Series X early though, please let us come over to play FIFA review the device. That’s what I meant, review the device.