Why $100 Video Games Could Be Possible by the End of the Decade

$100 video games by the end of the decade might sound farfetched to some, but with 2023 finally coming to a close, it’s shown us the unprecedented unsustainability of the industry. From behind-the-scenes revelations from the Insomniac hack to over 10,000 people being laid off in the industry in 2023 alone, it’s clear that the industry is at a crossroads. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s heading in the favour of the consumer either.

In November 2023, Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick recently said that longer games should cost more and Zelnick’s comments are not the first time a senior figure has said games should cost more either. Just two months prior, in September 2023, Capcom President Haruhiro Tsujimoto, went on record stressing that “game prices are too low”, and that “development costs are about 100 times higher than the Famicom era”.

Although Zelnick and Tsujimoto missed out on the fact that games have evolved over the years to be rammed with endless microtransactions, let’s take a deep dive into why $100 video games might be coming sooner than you think.

Development Costs

It’s probably one of the most obvious points that a CEO would make when it comes to increasing game prices, but yes, development prices on games have increased tenfold over the past couple of years.

Until recently, exact figures of how much a AAA game costs to develop were predictions but the recent Insomniac Games leak revealed just how much games cost. Marvel’s Spider-Man cost $315 million to develop, while Marvel’s Wolverine, which is now scheduled to release in 2026, will cost an estimated $305 million. In comparison, one of the biggest games of all time, GTA V, was released in 2013 with an approximate cost of $265 million to develop (including marketing costs).

Such high numbers are mainly attributed to development time, where development teams of a few hundred can no longer develop a AAA game in a matter of a couple of years. Five to six years are now on the low end of the norm, with some games taking closer to a decade.


Next, let’s take a good look at the topic of inflation. As consumers, we’ve seen prices increase drastically these past couple of years. Gone are the days of the 99p cheeseburger from McDonald’s and £3 Tesco Meal Deals (I live a life of luxury, I know). But have video games kept up with inflation?

The first video games that were released for the Atari 2600 in 1977 would set you back $39.99, but now, 46 years later, the same game would cost a staggering $202.62, according to this inflation calculator.

Using the same inflation calculator and my computer skills from high school, let’s take a look at how much games should cost if they follow inflation. Remember, in 2023, current generation console games (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S) cost $69.99.

In terms of the PlayStation console, which saw its first console release — PlayStation 1 — with games priced at $49.99, we can see that over the years games released on the platform have never matched inflation. If they did, we’d now be seeing games priced at the $100 price point already.

Using the starting price of $49.99 for PlayStation 1 games in 1995, we can see how much we should have been paying for each console generation.

PlayStation 1 – Released in 1995
Game Price – $49.99
Inflation Price – N/A

PlayStation 2 – Released in 2000
Game Price – $49.99
Inflation Price – $56.48
Difference – 12.98%

PlayStation 3 – Released in 2006
Game Price – $59.99
Inflation Price – $66.13
Difference – 10.23%

PlayStation 4 – Released in 2013
Game Price – $59.99
Inflation Price – $76.41
Difference – 27.37%

PlayStation 5 – Released in 2020
Game Price – $69.99
Inflation Price – $84.99
Difference – 21.43%

Game Price in 2023 – $69.99
Inflation Price in 2023 – $100.92
Difference – 44.19%

In comparison, I’ve also calculated the same for Xbox games, with the first release in 2001 for the Xbox priced at $49.99.

Xbox – Released in 2001
Game Price – $49.99
Inflation Price – N/A

Xbox 360 – Released in 2005
Game Price – $59.99
Inflation Price – $55.16
Difference – -8.05%

Xbox One – Released in 2013
Game Price – $59.99
Inflation Price – $65.79
Difference – 21.43%

Xbox Series X|S – Released in 2020
Game Price – $69.99
Inflation Price – $73.10
Difference – 4.44%

Game Price in 2023 – $69.99
Inflation Price in 2023 – $86.90
Difference – 24.16%

Digital Only Next-Generation Consoles

With the introduction of the new PlayStation 5 model, which seemingly is a natural step in the direction of all-digital games media, the question to ask is what if the next generation of consoles is for digital-only games? We’re still several years out before we get concrete details on the next generation of consoles, but unverified whispers have leaned toward the possibility of digital-only next-generation systems.

It’s a direction that the industry will inevitably go and although it doesn’t necessarily mean that game prices could increase, the move away from physical media will present some challenges. If Sony decides to make their exclusives $100 and they are successful, third-party games are likely to follow suit in price.

Microtransaction Sustainability

Microtransactions have become ever more prevalent in games these past few years, with not only their frequency increasing but their price too.

Several days ago, Call of Duty Twitter account CharlieINTEL tweeted about the microtransactions in Call of Duty.

They said, “[H]as anyone else noticed how Activision seems to be slowly increasing the price of bundles to see how high they can go in Call of Duty? We started off with 1800 COD Points for the majority of bundles, then 2400 COD Points, and now there’s 2800 COD Points bundles in the shop.”

That’s a 56% increase in the price of microtransactions in Call of Duty over a few years.

It’s not entirely clear why the cost of microtransactions is increasing exponentially, but it’s likely in retaliation to rising development costs. One caveat to this though is consumers will eventually just not pay for microtransactions because of their steep prices. With worldwide recessions hitting almost every country, consumers would rather put food on their table rather than buy the next weed camo weapon bundle.

The Next ‘Natural Step’

By the time the next generation rolls around in 2027 – 2028, past generation releases have shown us that we’ll be likely paying $80 for our games anyway. Almost every generation has seen a $10 increase in the price of games, but it feels like the next time could be a lot different.

The recent Insomniac hack has already shown us that publishers are already thinking about new ways to sell their games, with the likes of Marvel’s Spider-Man 3 being pitched to be sold in three parts at $50 each. With spiraling development costs that can see one commercial flop close a studio, it’s clear that publishers will be exploring the boundaries of selling their games. One of these, unfortunately for us, will be selling their games at a higher price.

What do you think? Do you think we could be seeing games sell at $100 by the end of the decade? Let us know in the comments below.

For more Insider Gaming coverage, check out the claim that a new Banjo-Kazooie game is coming