Now that we have pricing information for next-gen games as well as the reveal that at least some Gen 9 releases will be $70, I figured it was time to update my pricing graphs. As the thread title indicates, this is purely about U.S. prices. Your results may vary if you live outside the U.S.
Notes: Everything is adjusted to Aug. 2020 dollars. The "Nov. 2020" in the hardware chart is a placeholder, and while I'll update it again in November, given the scale of the chart (about $2.18 per pixel) another three months of inflation will likely only nudge the bars up a couple of pixels at most. As for the software chart, that's also Aug. 2020 dollars, and each title is adjusted to the price of its release month. The smaller scale of the chart means that a November update will result in a more pronounced shift in the position of the data points (even a 50-cent change in the value of a dollar will be noticeable), but everything should be proportional.
The XSX and standard PS5 are only about $50 more expensive than the PS2 and PS4 in adjusted terms, and noticeably less than many other systems. Given their power, it seems like a perfectly reasonable price. The digital-only PS5 is the least expensive PlayStation ever at launch, with a price comparable to that of the Genesis, 360 "Core" (the one without the HDD), and Wii U Deluxe. Finally, the XSS is the third-least expensive major console at launch ever, with only the NES Control Deck (the basic bare bones SKU with just the system, two controllers, and I think also SMB) and GameCube being less expensive.
This raises some interesting questions as to what the more popular SKUs will be. Will most gamers be willing to pay a premium for a disc drive (and greater power in the case of the Series X)? Or will the lower price models draw a larger audience? How many gamers care about physical copies and/or native 4K? We've never had systems released before where we have multiple launch SKUs distinguished not by what games and/or accessories are included, but rather purely by what hardware features they possess. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, assuming we get details on what percentage of sales are represented by each model (something we've seen little of in regards to the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X).
This one is probably going to be more controversial. The $70 price point has returned to gaming for the first time since the 90s, when certain cartridge-based titles could hit that mark. I knew it had to happen eventually. I think we all did. But looking at the data, it's not surprising. Aside from Wii games and a few Wii U games, $60 has been the standard for the past two generations. The last time we saw a major price hike was in 2005-2006 when Xbox & PlayStation games jumped from $50 in Gen 6 to $60 in Gen 7.
Not many people are going to like paying $70 for most games, but looking at how much the base price of a new game has declined since 16-bit era it's actually not that bad. How much we will be paying for certain PS5 & XSX games this holiday season will be about on par with how much we were paying for 360 & PS3 games circa late 2010/early 2011, or how much we were paying for PS2 & OXbox games back in 2003. I personally don't mind paying $70 for a new game if it's one I want badly enough. And besides, it's not like you have to buy every game new. Most games I don't consider day-one purchases I wait a few months for. By that time, the price has often dropped at least $20 (well, except for Nintendo games).
Now, there is a caveat here. Various sorts of DLC, especially microtransactions in the current gen, have added to the cost of a game. Of course, such DLC is technically optional in most cases (although how optional is up for debate depending on how manipulative it is, as Jim Sterling would argue). Still, DLC can add up to some $10-20 or more should you choose to get it.
Another thing I've noticed is that, at least for now, the $70 price point isn't yet an absolute standard for AAA releases like what $50 was in Gen 6 or what $60 was for PlayStation & Xbox these past two generations. There are still some $60 games, and even the Miles Morales game is only $50. Could we see less standardization in the new generation? Back in the 80s & 90s, prices were far less standardized, ranging from $35 to $50 on the NES, $50 to $70 on the SNES & Genesis, $40 to $60 on the PS1, and $60 to $70 on the N64. But for the past three generations we've seen more or less standardized pricing for AAA games, with exceptions being relatively rare. If pricing is less standardized, I think gamers may be more accepting of the $70 price point. We could use more smaller-scale single-player experiences that aren't 60-hour open worlds, and $50-60 would be a good target price for them. And games making heavy use of monetization (esp. MTX and "battle passes") should arguably remain at $60 at most.
So, will price be a factor with you in Gen 9? Add your thoughts or just respond in the poll.