Game Prices Might Increase
Microsoft still haven't officially announced the Xbox 360's successor, but Gamestop reckon that it's a seriously impressive piece of kit. The major retailer is convinced that traditional retail will still have an important role to play in the next console generation, but also believes that publishers would like to see RRPs rise to absorb increasing AAA development costs.
Speaking with GamesIndustry, Gamestop CEO J. Paul Raines was extremely complimentary about Microsoft's next-gen offering without giving away any specifics.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time with Microsoft, but we have to let them take the lead on this, but it will be a very hot, compelling device,” he said. “They are doing some really cool stuff, and I’m eager to hear them start their announcements because I think the world is going to stand up and take notice.”
The more cynical amongst you will argue that Gamestop would sing the praises of a product they'd very much like to flog us, and you'd probably be right. We'll find out more when Microsoft get around to formally unveiling the new hardware, which is heavily tipped to happen in April.
Later in the interview, Raines posited that high street retail will still remain relevant over the coming years. "We don't think digital is going to replace retail," he explained, pointing to over 900,000 subscribers to the "First To Know" list regarding Sony's next-gen consoles, and suggesting that "consumers just aren't ready to go massively digital yet."
However, with development costs spiralling out of control for AAA games (not to mention marketing, shipping and price protection), Raines believes that publishers will be keen to see prices rise for new games. Apparently this will be a key topic for debate going forward.
"We think there's an opportunity [to raise prices], but that's really in the hands of Sony and Microsoft and Nintendo. Certainly, we're not waiting on that. We're selling more DLC and accessories so consumers can spend more on a title, but whether or not that title goes up in price or not.
"I think that's going to be a big debate in the next few months. I think publishers, if you ask them, wouldn't mind seeing a price increase."
Raines was also quick to defend pre-owned games as a key factor keeping prices down for consumers. "The other thing is, pre-owned games make new games cheaper. If you buy BioShock from us, you know you're going to get 20-25 bucks for it after you finish it in a few months. That makes games cheaper for people and that helps pay for new games. So whatever you want to say on price points, you have to understand that pre-owned plays a role in that."
There's a lot to take in here, and a lot to think about ahead of this summer. What are you hoping for from the next Xbox, and would you be willing to shell out more for games than you already do?