This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone: as games become more and more advanced in scope and graphics, chances are it is going to take more workers, more time, and more money to make them. Simple economics: the more complex a product is, the more it costs to produce, and usually, the more it costs to buy as a consumer. Whether or not games will be more expensive for consumers to buy anytime soon remains to be seen, but for now, Jim Ryan, President of Sony Interactive Entertainment, is convinced that the production of next-gen games will be more expensive, though only slightly.
This topic was broached by Ryan in response to the Unreal Engine 5 reveal video, which featured a gameplay segment from “Lumen in the Land of Nanite.” In his own opinion, which is probably well informed, the cost of creating an entire game that looks like that reveal trailer will be quite high compared to the development cost of games right now.
“I think, to the extent that the technology enables the graphics side of it to become more interesting and life-like, the games will become slightly more human-intensive and capital intensive to produce,” Ryan told gameindustry.biz, also commenting that there will “probably will be an increase in development budgets.” That said, he apparently doesn’t think the budget increase will be that large. After all, “we don’t see it as being a massive increase,” he says.
Before now, Sony has said something along the lines of desiring a faster shift between console generations than society has ever seen before, in order to “provide a fertile install base for people who make games to be able to monetize against.” President Ryan’s hope is that the cost of these new games will be initially offset by the early adopters of the PS5 system. “If we can keep pace with a likely increase in development costs, then the industry can continue to prosper,” he says.
Naturally, Ryan is only referring to the PS5 in this scenario, but there’s no reason to believe his sentiments won’t apply to the Xbox Series X as well. With similar to identical graphics in question for the next-generation Xbox, the cost of game development on their end will undoubtedly see an increase as well. No doubt the cost of making many of those games will be offset by the initial sales of the new console, since nearly every interested individual will hop on the chance to buy.
Whether or not this means we’ll see an increase in the price of games is something that can’t be predicted. The $60 price tag of most new games has been outdated for some time, but no one has been willing to change it, or perhaps no one has been willing to accept that it might need to be changed. Either way, the games of the future are sure to bring many changes to the industry.