The march toward a $70 MSRP for retail games seems inevitable amid a general increase in tech-related pricing. Microsoft said earlier that it wouldn’t be able to maintain its current prices forever, and this latest decision follows other major game publishers.
Microsoft told IGN this week that, starting in 2023, the company’s new first-party games will cost $70 instead of $60. The policy applies to upcoming titles like Starfield, Redfall, and the next Forza Motorsport that are designed for the Xbox Series X and S and won’t come to Xbox One.
The decision echoes how Sony charges $70 for PlayStation 5 first-party games, but $60 for PlayStation 4 titles. Ubisoft and Take-Two Interactive also made similar choices to account for the increasing costs of game development.
However, the price hike may not have the same impact on Xbox due to differences between Microsoft’s and Sony’s business strategies. Sony applies its $70 price point to cross-generation games, charging customers $10 to upgrade titles like God of War Ragnarök from PS4 to PS5.
Xbox games like Forza Horizon 5 upgrade from Xbox One to Xbox Series for free, and Microsoft’s cross-gen games still cost $60.
Furthermore, much of Microsoft’s gaming business now revolves around Game Pass which entitles subscribers to all the games falling under the new policy. Additionally, subscribers buying those games separately from Game Pass get a discount. Sony’s PlayStation Plus subscription includes discounts, but not for new first-party games.
While game prices are trending upward compared to recent years, $70 isn’t a new high. New games regularly sold for $60, $70, or more during the 1990s, and those prices don’t account for inflation.
Prices started to fall when games moved to optical discs, which are cheaper to manufacture than cartridges. Comparing the images in the tweet above, Madden 97 cost $48 on the original PlayStation and Sega Saturn, but $60 on the older Super NES and Sega Genesis consoles. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was $70 on Super NES and Genesis, but $53 on Saturn.
New game prices settled around $50 during the PlayStation 2 years, but increased to $60 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Hikes since then have become controversial due to inflation and increasingly expensive game development on one end and the rising importance of digital on the other, which lowers distribution costs and cuts out retailers.
In October, Microsoft admitted that it would eventually have to raise gaming prices, but wouldn’t do so until next year. Sony already increased the PlayStation 5’s price everywhere except the in US due to growing manufacturing costs.