EA Reveals Its First $70 Next-Gen Game, Madden 21
EA joins Activision, Sony, and others in charging $10 more for a next-gen game.
Electronic Arts has become the latest giant gaming company to start charging $10 more for next-gen games. As part of a wider next-gen reveal for Madden NFL 21, the publisher announced a "NXT LVL" edition of the game for PS5 and Xbox Series X, and it will cost $70 USD.
This version also includes "additional high value" content for the popular card-based online mode, Madden Ultimate Team. However, the full contents were not announced.
To be clear, the NXT LVL edition is a standalone version of Madden 21 for PS5 and Xbox Series X. Anyone who bought the game for PS4 and Xbox One can receive the next-gen improvements, of which there are many, at no extra cost. The only catch is that you need to complete the upgrade by the time Madden NFL 22 launches in 2021. This version can essentially be used as either a last-gen or next-gen version of the game for a cheaper price than the next-gen-only version.
The $70 NXT LVL edition is aimed at people who are buying Madden 21 for the first time on a new-generation console.
Madden NFL 21 launches for PS5 and Xbox Series X on December 4. That's the same day that FIFA 21 releases on next-gen consoles, but it's not clear if there will also be a standalone edition of that game for PS5 and Xbox Series X or if it will cost $10 more.
Earlier in November, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen alluded to price increases for its next-gen games, saying that a higher price point might be necessary to make up for the increases in development costs. Sony and Take-Two are two other major publishers following suit.
"We've always said games are getting more expensive. The experience is getting deeper. The time that people are playing games is getting longer. One might argue that that might require a higher price point over time, but we'll address that as we get closer to more games coming into the next-gen console transition," Jorgensen said earlier in November, before the PS5 and Xbox Series X released.
Jorgensen is not the first gaming executive to point out that the cost of game development has increased, and thus a price increase for the consumer might be in order. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick defended NBA 2K21's $70 price point by saying, "The bottom line is that we haven't seen a front-line price increase for nearly 15 years, and production costs have gone up 200 to 300%."
Before that, former PlayStation executive Shawn Layden remarked that the cost of developing games has increased by 10 times, and all the while, the price of new games has stayed steady at $60 USD. "If you don't have elasticity on the price-point, but you have huge volatility on the cost line, the model becomes more difficult. I think this generation is going to see those two imperatives collide," Layden said of the new generation of consoles.
More recently, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan defended the $70 price point for the PS5 launch game Demon's Souls. Asked if $70 was a fair price, Ryan said, "Yes, yes, I do. If you measure the hours of entertainment provided by a video game, such as Demon's Souls compared to any other form of entertainment, I think that's a very straightforward comparison to draw."
While some major games have raised prices to $70 for next-gen, including Demon's Souls, NBA 2K21, Godfall, and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, it remains to be seen if others will follow suit to make $70 the new norm.
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