Long ago, all you had to do was dig into your piggy bank for quarters and head up to the arcade to play a videogame. Now you can almost everywhere play fun games without paying a cent.
Still, you could spend upfront as much as $70 too. That’s what will cost blockbusters like “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War” and “NBA 2K21” on the newest consoles this fall.
The price difference represents more than just the global video game market’s growth, introducing impressive 3-D graphics and previously unimaginable social experiences. It also points to the many ways game makers are now taking revenue from you.
Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X is expected to launch on holidays. The companies would offer higher loading rates, improved graphics, and other updates. That has led some publishers to charge even more for new titles tailored for such computers than the usual $60. By comparison, playing the “Fortnite” loves doesn’t cost much, so you might quickly go broke on digital perks like player costumes and dance motions.
It has never been more challenging to understand the real expense of immersive content, from free-to-play and rentals to season passes and upfront costs. Here’s how to decode the various business models and get as much bang for your buck.
Why are some games so expensive?
Usually, largest publishers in the video game industry unleash their biggest console and computer games each fall, complete with glitzy ad promotions.
These so-called triple-A games pay a premium, and developers spend ever more sums of money to make them ten million dollars. “Cyberpunk 2077,” “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla,” and “Marvel’s Avengers” are perhaps the most awaited games.
Although the average cost for breakout games was $60, Activision Blizzard and Take-Two Interactive Tech recently reported $10 raises for Call of Duty and NBA 2K. However, these are only for compatible versions of the current consoles. Mods for older games would also cost $60.
What if I don’t want to pay that much?
Then, wait a while, as video game publishers always drop down prices for their fall releases, Black Friday or shortly after. It’s also likely that the new consoles will arrive packaged at a joint discount with certain big-budget titles, as in the past.
Electronic Arts new holiday update, “Star Wars: Squadrons,” is at least one outlier coming up. It’s a piloting game for consoles and PCs of the current generation that will cost only $40. EA’s managing and finance head of the group Blake Jorgensen said the game isn’t as beefy as games usually put out by EA around this time. Hence they gave the discount.
Also, EA is not planning to release an optimized version for the new consoles. Although Sony and Microsoft have said that their consoles will run many video games of previous generations.
Keep in mind that what you’re paying at the cash register could be just the start, as many games sell digital add-ons. Occasionally, buying a funky outfit for, say, 99 cents can be tempting. Still, that can add up over time.
Are free-to-play games ‘free?’
Yes, you can play some games on any smartphone or tablet for years without paying a cent. These games are also increasingly appearing on consoles that PCs and include hits like “Fortnite” and “Apex Legends.”
In most cases, they raise revenue by selling downloadable perks, showcasing advertisements, or both. Some reward players by giving them in-game items, which would otherwise cost money to watch video ads.
The free-to-play model concept is that people are more likely to try out a game if they don’t have to pay. While only a fraction of players splurges in-game purchases, those who open their wallets tend to spend enough to make profitable free games.
The possibilities are very complex. Yes, video games are more entertaining than ever, but they’re also theoretically more expensive. Only keep searching for game markdowns, purchasing packs, and contemplating fairly priced rentals, to protect your expenses.