Capcom’s fantasy action-RPG Dragon’s Dogma 2 will sell for $69.99 – $70, if you disregard the usual “deduct one cent to fool silly left-to-right readers into thinking it’s significantly cheaper” gambit – when it releases in March 2024. It’s the first time Capcom have sold the base edition of a game for $70 in the US and follows comments this September from a Capcom executive that videogames are priced “too low” these days, based on how much games cost to make.
That’s $70 for the base game, again – there’s also a deluxe edition of Dragon’s Dogma 2 with cosmetics and a gallery of music and sound assets that will sell for $80 on Steam. See all that for yourself on the store page.
It’s far from the first game to break the $70 barrier – Sony’s God of War Ragnarok and Warner’s Gotham Knights went for similar sums – and it sounds like Capcom have been weighing the benefits of making the jump for a while.
“Development costs are about 100 times higher than during the Famicom era, but software prices have not gone up that much,” Capcom president Haruhiro Tsujimoto asserted during this year’s Tokyo Game Show, as reported by Nikkei and passed on by Kotaku. “There is also a need to raise wages. Considering the fact that wages are rising in the industry as a whole, I think raising unit prices is a healthy option for business.”
Elsewhere in the TGS presentation, Tsujimoto suggested that publishers can get away with raising prices even during rough economic times, because people need their creature comforts. “Just because there’s a recession doesn’t mean you won’t go to the movie theater or go to your favorite artist’s concert,” he noted. “High-quality games will continue to sell.”
Is Dragon’s Dogma 2 a high-quality game? I enjoyed what I played of it a month or two back, but I also found it extremely familiar, whether in terms of aesthetics, the RPG classes or the core loop of starting unwinnable fights with griffons and letting your hapless AI pawn accomplices take the fall.
The diehard fan defence of the game’s familiarity is that it’s the game Dragon’s Dogma should have been, the one that director Hideaki Itsuno wanted to create, before he had to scale back his pitch to allay scepticism from Capcom executives. Speaking as somebody who loved the original Dragon’s Dogma – its Dark Arisen expanded edition is still one of my Switch regulars – I’m less convinced by this argument. I’d rather play something that feels like a sequel to the wonderful game Itsuno did work on than its overdue redemption arc. I certainly wouldn’t pay $70 for Dragon’s Dogma 2, based on what I’ve seen to date.
That’s a judgement of one game, of course, rather than a commentary on the broader point about pricing versus production costs, which – where to start. Game Developer published a feature on the subject in December last year, arguing that the key problem is diminishing returns from exorbitantly costly new graphics techniques. One way of making savings could be to cut some executive salaries: according to a January 2022 report, Activision Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick earned compensation equivalent to the average cost of paying 1,560 employees during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.