Video games are expensive to make, and with the relentless advancement of technology, they're only becoming pricier and pricier. And so, perhaps it's no surprise that 2K Games has revealed that NBA 2K21 will cost $69/£65 on next-gen platforms — though that doesn't make the price hike sting any less.
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To make matters worse, NBA 2K21 won't support Xbox Smart Delivery or whatever counterpart Sony whips up for PS5. That means you won't be able to pay for the Xbox One or PS4 edition when they release on September 4 and then get the next-gen version free of charge sometime during the "holiday season" when those eventually come out.
Rather, there's a separate version of NBA 2K21 for players who want the game across both generations: the Mamba Forever Edition, which, as you might guess by the name, celebrates Kobe Bryant's legacy. The Mamba Forever Edition costs $99, and grants you access to current- and next-gen versions of the game within the same platform family.
That last part — "within the same console family" — is the kicker. Owners of the Mamba Forever release will either have access to PS4 and PS5 editions of NBA 2K21 or Xbox One and Series X releases. You can't, say, buy the game on PS4 and then redeem the next-gen version on Xbox Series X; you have to choose team PlayStation or Xbox, and stick with it, which is especially frustrating.
Really, 2K should just support systems like Smart Delivery like so many other publishers are doing. But the one silver lining in avoiding Smart Delivery is that the company isn't beholden to Microsoft's system of locking current- and next-gen bundles to Xbox. Theoretically, there's nothing stopping 2K from implementing some option at the point of sale that gives you access to either current-gen console and either next-gen one, while allowing you to mix and match.
So, to recap, NBA 2K21 is not only going to be $10 more expensive than any modern game, but it's also going to be more expensive to play across generations, and infuriatingly particular about how you'll be able to carry it with you into the PS5/Series X era. While major titles such as Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Cyberpunk 2077 are already confirmed to support free next-gen upgrades, a troubling trend could emerge if more publishers decide to go the route of 2K.
And in terms of that $70 price tag, we're not entirely sure whether this will be the standard going forward for certain publishers, or the new normal across the industry. When prices hiked to $60 with the Xbox 360's release, that quickly became the status quo. We haven't seen a leap like that in 15 years, and so it's not unsurprising the companies would jump at the opportunity to take advantage of the start of a new console generation to institute one now.
At least one next-gen game, Scarlet Nexus for the Xbox Series X, has been listed for $59 on Amazon. So it's quite possible that we'll see a mix of $60 and $70 releases, until uniformity settles in over time.
If you're looking forward to NBA 2K21 and somehow not driven away by this confounding new age of cross-generational pricing structures, you can pre-order whichever version you like on the game's website right now. Just be sure you have that chart within reach to make sense of it all.