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Rockstar owner argues players ‘are ready for $70 games’

Take-Two CEO defends NBA 2K21's much criticised launch price

The CEO of Take-Two has reiterated his view that the decision to charge $69.99 for the next-gen versions of NBA 2K21 was the correct one, because the public was “ready” for a price increase.

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Speaking during the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference this week (transcribed by VGC), Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick was asked for his views on the reaction to NBA 2K21’s price point and what it means for game prices in the future.

“We announced a $70 price point for NBA 2K21, our view was that we’re offering an array of extraordinary experiences, lots of replayability, and the last time there was a frontline price increase in the US was 2005, 2006, so we think consumers were ready for it,” Zelnick replied.

He did stop short, however, of suggesting that future games will cost $70 going forwards, instead suggesting that the company needs to focus on providing a level of content that justifies that price point.

Take-Two’s decision to price the next-gen versions of NBA 2K21 at $69.99 was controversial
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“We haven’t said anything about pricing other titles so far, and we tend to make announcements on a title-by-title basis, but I think our view is [that we want to] always deliver more value than what we charge, make sure the consumer has the experience and[…] the experience of paying for it, both are positive experiences,” he explained.

“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. [If you] 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.”

He added: “So we always want to make sure that consumers feel like we deliver much more than we ask in return, and that’s true for our current consumer spending as well. We’re an entertainment company, we’re here to captivate and engage consumers, and if we do that then monetisation follows.”

NBA 2K21 was the first next-gen game to be officially priced at $70. When the price was announced last August, Zelnick defended the decision, saying: “We think with the value we offer consumers…and the kind of experience you can really only have on these next-generation consoles, that the price is justified.”

The issue of next-gen prices is a divisive one, and publishers have yet to find a common ground. In November, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan defended the company’s decision to price select first-party PS5 games at $70, such as Demon’s Souls and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition.

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Speaking last July, Ubisoft said that its first wave of next-gen games wouldn’t cost more than the current-gen versions, a statement that turned out to be correct. However, the publisher didn’t rule out PS5 and Xbox Series X releases post-Christmas 2020 coming at a premium price.

Speaking to the Washington Post last year, Xbox head Phil Spencer was non-committal on the subject, stating: “As an industry, we can price things whatever we want to price them, and the customer will decide what the right price is for them.

“I’m not negative on people setting a new price point for games because I know everybody’s going to drive their own decisions based on their own business needs. But gamers have more choice today than they ever have. In the end, I know the customer is in control of the price that they pay, and I trust that system.”

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