ESPN NHL and NBA 2K5 also $19.99?

EBgames.com now lists two more sports sims as budget-priced; Visual Concepts has no official comment--yet.

Once again, it appears that an online retailer may have preempted a major announcement from a publisher. Earlier today, EBgames.com began listing both the Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions of ESPN NHL 2K5 and ESPN NBA 2K5 for $19.99. The new price point is the same as for ESPN NFL 2K5, whose discounting sent waves through the industry when it was announced last month.

However, the new price point is not official--yet. When contacted by GameSpot, representatives of Visual Concepts, the Sega-owned developer of all ESPN titles, would neither confirm nor deny the price point but promised that there "will be an announcement soon."

Last month, nearly identical wording was used to respond to inquiries about EB Games' preemptive listing of ESPN NFL 2K5 for $19.99. However, NFL 2K5's discounting was corroborated by product pages from the online store of EB's rival, Gamestop. As of this afternoon, Gamestop was still listing NBA 2K5 and NHL 2K5 for the standard $49.99.

If true, the repricing of NBA 2K5 and NHL 2K5 would mark another bold joint move by ESPN copublishers Sega and Take-Two Interactive, which executives outlined in a recent GameSpot Q&A. However, since the two titles are not nearly as complete as NFL 2K5 was when its cost fell, some industry-watchers are concerned that the price reduction could mean fewer resources will be devoted to their development.

GameSpot will have more on this developing story as details become available.

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