Microsoft is following the games industry trend and will increase the price of their upcoming Xbox Series X|S games from $60 to $70 starting in 2023. The first games to be affected by this will include Starfield, Redfall and Forza Motorsport, and the new pricing will apply across both Xbox consoles and Windows PC.
We’ve held on price increases until after the holidays so families can enjoy the gift of gaming. Starting in 2023 our new, built for next-gen, full-priced games, including Forza Motorsport, Redfall, and Starfield, will launch at $69.99 USD on all platforms. This price reflects the content, scale, and technical complexity of these titles. As with all games developed by our teams at Xbox, they will also be available with Game Pass the same day they launch.
The decision follows on from similar moves made at the start of the generation by Sony and major publishers that include Activision, Ubisoft and EA. Each company deciding that they needed to move away from the $60 price point that had been steady since the start of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 era.
There have been exceptions to this rule, with EA and Activision continuing to offer last generation versions of the game at $60, and Sony initially promising that select cross-gen titles would remain at $60 – they were then forced by a public backlash to stick with this for Horizon Forbidden West. Typically there has been some kind of upgrade price to pay the difference for those switching generations.
Microsoft was a holdout for the first couple years of this generation, launching notable games like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 as $60 cross-gen titles. However, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has recently been signalling that Microsoft will be raising the prices of its gaming products into 2023.
“We’ve held price on our console,” he said in October, “we’ve held price on games for us and our subscription. I don’t think we’ll be able to do that forever. I do think at some point we’ll have to raise some prices on certain things…”
We can expect that the Xbox Series X|S will increase in price to match the raised PS5 pricing from earlier this year, but a key factor will be if and when the price of Xbox Game Pass goes up. Spencer also recently said that Game Pass had started to saturate its potential reach on Xbox consoles, but if games like Starfield are more expensive, getting them through a subscription could be more appealing and help Microsoft continue to grow its subscriber count. On the other hand, if Game Pass increases in price by a few dollars, that could tip the value balance back the other way again.
The risk that Microsoft is facing now is that their price increase is coming during a period of financial instability, and while they can try to justify their decision with high levels of inflation we’re seeing in global economies, there’s a different tone to this when compared to the decisions made by other companies in 2020. With the cost of living going up so significantly over the past year, a $10 increase in the cost of a game can price people out.
On the other side of this, you have to wonder whether the wages of developers will also be going up by 16% to match inflation, or if this 16% increase in game prices will simply be going to pad the billions upon billions of revenue that Microsoft makes each financial quarter?