Ever since the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, one of the prevailing discussions has been whether the prices of games should shift to accommodate the step-up in hardware. A number of Sony titles, including Spider-Man Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and Demon's Souls, saw an increase in price to around $70 apiece, with Activision quick to follow suit and mark up its 2020 releases.
It seems Ubisoft is the latest company to consider whether it should hike up the current costs of its AAA games, with the company's CFO Frederick Duguet addressing the issue during a recent earnings call. As reported by VGC, the Ubisoft higher-up claimed there have been conversations about attaching a "$70 price tag" instead of the typical $60 one fans are accustomed to, although nothing has been decided yet.
"In terms of pricing, we've been analyzing the competitive dynamics of the last quarter and we are still looking at new opportunities," Duguet said, clarifying that the team has "not made any decision." Ubisoft generally seemed to stay away from the discussion when it became a hot topic last year, deciding that Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Immortals: Fenyx Rising would all be marked at one fixed cost regardless of the version players bought. This seemed mostly due to the fact that buyers were offered free upgrades to next-generation consoles when they bought one of the publisher's titles on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
It seems it's now looking to incorporate a more permanent pricing system in the coming years. As it stands, the $70 price point has been a controversial topic. Many have argued that it's only fair, with NPD analyst Mat Piscatella claiming on the Virtual Economy podcast that players should be paying premium to access a game the day it comes out. Former SIE Worldwide Studios Chairman Shawn Layden also claimed it covers the higher development costs behind next-generation titles.
However, others have claimed that the risk players take on purchasing games at release isn't worth dropping $70, with titles like Cyberpunk 2077, Marvel's Avengers, and Anthem all driving home that there's no certainty a AAA game will be in a fully playable state at release. After all, the higher the costs of the game, the more unwilling consumers are to take a gamble on a title.
European players have also made the point that the price rise is much steeper for them, with titles jumping from £50 to £70 in the UK alone. Ubisoft will have to weigh up whether it wants its games to make the jump and join the likes of Sony and Activision, or stick to offering its titles at a lower price point.
Ubisoft is likely going to be putting less emphasis on AAA game experiences going forward. In a recent earnings call, Ubisoft describes that these types of games will not be the main focus of its business model in the future.
The AAA moniker may be somewhat informal, but it is a label that describes many of the major experiences available today. Games by well-known publishers like Activision or Nintendo tend to fall into this category. However, it typically includes video games with higher development and marketing budgets. Genre matters little, and Ubisoft has even been teasing more AAA games for 2021.
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