Gaming is an expensive hobby, particularly when you can’t even buy the latest consoles without paying a scalper double MSRP. The games themselves are getting more spendy, too. After several publishers have gotten on board with $70 AAA pricing, Ubisoft has admitted it’s planning to do the same, starting with the upcoming release of Skull & Bones.
Over the past 20 years, the price for a new, high-end game has gone from $50 to $60, and then to $70 starting in 2020. That’s when Take-Two released NBA 2K21 at the new $70 price point. It was followed by Activision Blizzard with Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and much of Sony’s launch lineup for the PS5.
Ubisoft has held out thus far, but the time has come to ask for that extra $10, says Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. Last year, Guillemot deflected when asked if the publisher, which is famous for franchises like Assassin’s Creed and FarCry, would bump pricing from $60 to $70. In a new interview with Axios, Guillemot confirms that Ubisoft is moving to $70 pricing for new AAA games. He framed this as meeting the price of the competition rather than a price increase, though.
Ubisoft’s first $70 launch will be the pirate-themed action-adventure Skull & Bones, which comes to the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S in November. However, it will be crawling with microtransactions just like the publisher’s $60 games. Series like Assassin’s Creed and Watchdogs have been increasingly infiltrated by these upsells to the point you’d have to spend another $60 just to unlock all the content that ships with the game. And yet, Ubisoft thinks the base price should go up. It’s also extremely interested in NFTs, which are like microtransactions on steroids.
In years past, you could at least sell a game after you finished it. That cartridge or disc wouldn’t net you a lot, but even $20 or $30 would help take the sting out of buying a new title. Today, more and more games are distributed digitally — both Microsoft and Sony make versions of their current-gen consoles that don’t even have disc drives. You can pay $70 for one of these games just like you would for a disc, but there’s no way to resell it down the road.
Ubisoft’s move leaves Microsoft as the last major $60 holdout, but that could change as soon as it completes the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. That deal is still undergoing regulatory scrutiny with Sony claiming the loss of Call of Duty would be a devastating blow to gaming on PlayStation.