First-party Xbox Series X games have been something of an anomaly over the past two years. While other current-gen game prices have crept up to $70, first-party Microsoft titles, from Forza Horizon 5 to Halo Infinite, have remained firmly at $60 apiece. Next year, however, that’s going to change. The company has announced its intention to charge $70 for first-party games starting in 2023, including highly anticipated Bethesda titles such as Starfield and Redfall.
Microsoft spoke to IGN to confirm the price hike, with a representative claiming that the “price reflects the content, scale and technical complexity” of the games in question. The representative also reminded readers that all first-party Microsoft titles are available day-one with Xbox Game Pass, so it’s not necessary to spend $70 on each one up-front. At present, an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription costs $15 per month right now, although that price is not set in stone, either.
Astute readers will note that Xbox head Phil Spencer has been ambivalent about raising Xbox prices over the past few months. While he’s repeatedly claimed that the Xbox Series X console will not get a price hike in the near future, he made no such promise for games. He also acknowledged that at some point, Microsoft would have to raise prices, if only because manufacturing and shipping costs have increased so much.
Back in September, Spencer said that he had ‘No plans today to raise [the] price of our consoles. We think in a time when our customers are more economically challenged and uncertain than ever, we don’t think it’s the right move.” At the same time, he did not promise to keep the price locked in place forever.
He reiterated his points a month later, when he said that Microsoft had “held price on our console, we’ve held price on games and our subscription. I don’t think we’ll be able to do that forever.” In the same interview, he promised to keep Xbox console, game and subscription prices stable for holiday 2022 — which, to his credit, is true so far.
(In fact, the Xbox Series S has seen a significant price break at many retailers, often going for as little as $240.)
In any case, Microsoft is not alone in increasing first-party game prices. Sony has been charging $70 for first-party PS5 games ever since Demon’s Souls launched, and gamers seem to have adjusted to the change with minimal grumbling. The unfortunate truth is that video games are just as subject to inflation as any other consumer good.