- The next generation of consoles promises a substantial leap in graphical detail and fidelity.
- PlayStation CEO, Jim Ryan, says development costs will rise as a consequence.
- Could publishers up the cost of games to mitigate the generational transition?
The next-gen leap promised by the PS5 comes at a cost. That cost could trickle down to players in the shape of higher game prices.
PS5 to Push Game Development Costs Upwards
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO, Jim Ryan, touched on the costs associated with creating PS5 games that match the graphical detail and fidelity showcased in the Unreal Engine 5 tech demo.
Ryan widely expects development budgets to jump upwards.
I think, to the extent that the technology enables the graphics side of it to become more interesting and life-like, [the games] will become slightly more human-intensive and capital intensive to produce.
So yes, we think there probably will be an increase in development budgets. We don’t see it as being a massive increase, and that’s why we want to do more faster than we have ever done before, to provide a fertile install base for people who make games to be able to monetize against. If we can keep pace with a likely increase in development costs, then the industry can continue to prosper.
Although Ryan seems confident in early adoption mitigating the heightened cost of making games for PS5, what happens if these forecasts are off the mark?
Analysts estimate that the PS5 will cost around $500. Such a steep price, coupled with the weakened purchasing power of gamers due to the economic impact of the pandemic, means early sales aren’t guaranteed.
It isn’t unreasonable to say that publishers will want a firmer guarantee of a return on their investment. The situation could be particularly dire for publishers pushing out console exclusives that can’t dampen slow uptake with sales generated from previous-gen versions of games.
More Expensive Games
If games take longer, more money, and more skilled developers to make, there’s even more pressure for sales to recoup costs. And, what better way to do this than passing this on to the players themselves and upping the cost of PS5 games?
We could very well see a slight jump upwards from the current generation’s AAA game $60 price point to match.
It’s safe to say that what applies to the PS5, applies to Xbox Series X – if development budgets trend upwards for Sony’s console, it’s likely the same case for games made for Microsoft’s machine. As such, we could see a price bump across the board.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to publishers. Knowing the likes of EA revel in squeezing extra profit out of gamers at every turn, the draw of bumping up game prices may be too strong to ignore, especially with such ready-made, defensible justification.