Out Of Touch Take-Two CEO Suggests Gamers Will Tolerate $70 Video Game Price Tags
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but if you play video games, you are apparently ready to pay a higher price for titles than what you have been. So says Straus Zelnick, the chief executive officer of Take-Take Interactive, who tripled down on the controversial notion during the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.
What publishers are evaluating is whether or not the advanced capabilities of the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 are enough to justify higher pricing for games. Zelnick weighed in on this last August after announcing that NBA 2K21 would cost $70
for the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions, saying in no uncertain terms that the "price is justified
Then last September, Zelnick offered up some additional comments
on the matter, noting that Take-Two "delivers a much, much bigger game for $60 or $70 than we delivered for $60 10 years ago."
If you thought Zelnick might have changed his mind since then, you would be mistaken.
"In terms of pricing, we announced a $70 price point for NBA 2K21. Our view was, we’re offering an extraordinary array of experiences, lots of replayability, and the last time there was a front-line price increase in the US was 2005, 2006. So we think consumers were ready for it," Zelnick said during a webcast of the conference
Take-Two may feel empowered by the popularity of its NBA 2K franchise. The latest installment has sold 8 million copies, Zelnick said. However, it's worth noting that competition in the basketball space is virtually non-existent, as EA stopped making NBA Live games (again).
Will this be the trend going forward? That remains to be seen, and Zelnick says no decision on increased pricing has been made about other games, noting Take-Two makes those decisions on a game by game basis.
"Our view is to always deliver more value than what we charge... We all know anecdotally that even if you love a consumer experience, if you feel you were overcharged for it, it ruins the experience, you don’t want to have it again. Go to a great restaurant, a really really fine restaurant, have a great meal and great service, then you get a check that’s double what you think it should be, you’re never going back," Zelnick said.
He's not wrong about that, but we're not sure the justification is there to charge more for a game like NBA 2K21. For one, the hardware inside these latest generation consoles are the same as what's available on PC. And secondly, these games make a killing on in-game purchases, otherwise known as microtransactions. It can take a long time to beef up a character's stats in the NBA 2K games without spending money on virtual currency, which in turn can be used to buy stat upgrades, in addition to custom apparel and everything else.
What's your take on this? Is Zelnick out of touch with gamers, or is a price hike to $70 no big deal? Sound off in the comments section below.