As you may have noticed, along with the increase in prices for AAA games at retail, the cost of production of the games has also increased substantially. Unfortunately, these cost increases can lead to specific consequences for the gaming industry, and you may have already experienced some.
So if you’re wondering what the rising cost of game production could be, and how it could affect games, even if they cost $69.99, we can help.
1. More companies need to aggressively monetize games
Unfortunately, one of the most common effects of increased development costs for the gaming industry is increased monetization, and you’ve already experienced the problems caused by micro-transactions.
But with AAA games like Halo Infinite costing more than $500 million to develop, according to Game Rent, it’s no surprise that production companies are looking to make money through means other than physical sales.
If you take these production costs literally, then 343 Industries had a lot to prove with Halo Infinite. Unsurprisingly, the game launched with deep monetization of armor, color shaders, in-game currency, and a battle pass.
Ultimately, these potential avenues of earning make Halo Infiniti’s profitability more likely for Microsoft and 343 Industries, but at the expense of the Halo experience you’ll know and enjoy.
However, 343 Industries was hit hard by layoffs at Microsoft, so Microsoft may be unhappy with Halo Infinite despite its monetization. But it highlights the rising costs as having a curious effect on the industry: prompting developers to incorporate profitable monetization regardless of the game’s potential losses.
2. Games can change radically to appeal to a wider audience
Just as monetization needs to meet rising costs and profitability expectations, reaching a wider audience may require changing the game’s fundamentals.
According to Final Fantasy XVI developer Naoki Yoshida in an interview with Game Informer, game development has become such an ‘endeavour’ that the cost of producing a Final Fantasy game could be ‘upwards of $100 million’, and that ‘development costs To ‘compensate’, you need as many people as possible playing your game.
While you may have experienced one of the many Final Fantasy installments, Final Fantasy XVI represents a massive change for the franchise, ditching classic turn-based combat in favor of Bayonetta-like action-based gameplay.
The reasoning is that action-based gameplay is more accessible and widely played than turn-based, allowing for a larger audience of players. This, in turn, will increase the profitability of the game: with more potential players comes more potential sales.
As a result of rising production costs, franchises with long-standing expectations from fans, such as Final Fantasy, may be forced to accommodate more traditional mechanics. As development costs increase, the need for widely accessible features becomes almost essential to make the game economically viable.
3. Cost may push a sport to become a live service
Another way the rising cost of video game production could affect the gaming industry is by encouraging more games to take a live service model that allows for long-term profitability.
And while monetization can generate a profit as long as a game is popular, a live service-designed game is guaranteed to make a profit as long as the service continues.
In general, the way live service games work ensures that new content is released over a longer period of time than is usual for games. You may find yourself playing a live service game for many years as new content maintains the game’s popularity.
For profitability, this ensures that all salable parts of the game, including monetization, battle passes, expansions, and DLC, can continue for years and recoup development costs.
According to Geoff Keighley on Twitter, EA’s CEO stated that 71% of EA’s revenue comes from live service games, indicating that it is a successful way to combat the rising cost of games.
In industry terms, rising costs will push more games to incorporate profitable mechanics, features, and services. And with live service titles, in theory, allowing profitability for many years it’s no wonder the industry is turning to feature and prioritize live service games.
4. Popular gaming trends are becoming increasingly common
As well as appealing to a wider audience, increasing cost pressures may lead the industry to incorporate the most popular gaming trends available at the time of release.
Regardless of which platform you choose to play on, you will have experienced a range of games, regardless of genre, with common features and services. Whether you look at Battle Pass services, Battle Royale game modes, or even currency mechanics, they are almost universally featured in games.