Whether you’re an Xbox Game Pass user or not, paying for Xbox games can be pretty expensive.
That’s especially true now that game studios are starting to charge $69.99 for their games instead of the usual $59.99.
You may wonder what’s made buying video games from Xbox so expensive.
Why Are Xbox Games So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of a new Xbox game is between $59.99 and $69.99.
Xbox games are expensive due to the length of time it takes to make them, the complex technical aspects of producing the game, Xbox’s recent spending splurge, and to encourage gamers to sign up for Xbox Game Pass.
Let’s look at these and some other factors in more detail.
1. Game Studio Popularity
You’ll often find that certain game studios tend to have higher prices than others.
Big names like Bethesda, Bioware, Xbox Game Studios, EA, and many others tend to produce AAA games.
These are usually games that push the gaming genre forward a bit more or focus on big player numbers with microtransactions.
They’re studios that have built a reputation for producing polished, high-quality games.
While studios have stumbled from time to time, by and large, their portfolios usually speak for themselves.
These studios are quite different from small or independent studios.
The studios tend to receive big budgets from their publishers and have the means of pulling off some incredible games.
However, because the studios established their reputations for making high-quality games, gamers usually feel confident in buying their expensive games.
They know that, in most cases, they’re going to receive a great experience from it.
Indie game studios, on the other hand, don’t always have that reputation built yet.
It may be working on its first game.
As such, the studio has to prove itself.
You’ll sometimes find that indie studios tend to sell their games at cheaper prices.
If the game is coming from an AAA game studio, then it’s going to be expensive.
Xbox games are expensive when they come from AAA game studios since the studio has proven its value.
2. Game Development Time And Scale
Game development can take a very long time.
Depending on the game in question, it can take several years before a game is finally ready for release.
All the while, game studios have to pay employees and other costs.
Publishers and investors will fund the initial development with the expectation of receiving money back from the game sales.
That’s why some publishers push game developers to work hard, even over time, to finish a game.
The publisher is eager to make a profit and cover its costs.
However, with how long a game can take to make, those expenses start to grow and grow.
Studios have to cover lots of expenses.
There’s the development team, but then there are also voice actors, animators, advertising costs, and numerous other costs.
The longer it takes to make the game, the higher those expenses become.
To make a profit and pay back any loans or investors, the studio has to sell its game at a high price.
That’s especially true if the studio isn’t sure whether the game is going to be a success or not.
Xbox games are expensive because they take a long time to make which increases costs.
3. Game Technical Complexity
Some Xbox games are also expensive because they feature a lot of technical complexity.
AAA game studios, in particular, like to try new things.
They usually have budgets that allow the developers to try new mechanics.
By pushing the envelope, the studio can offer a new experience.
It’s a great way to attract gamers to the game and give them something new.
It can also set the standard for the game genre moving forward.
The problem with complex, technical games is that they’re expensive to make.
It usually requires a lot of trial and error or prototyping.
That can extend the length of time it takes for the studio to finish the game.
Some studios even have to develop their own game engine to pull off the kind of mechanics it wants to pull off.
The longer it takes to develop the game, the more expensive the final price tag is going to be.
Xbox games are expensive because some of them feature incredible technical aspects that take a long time to make.
4. Matching Sony’s Prices
Xbox isn’t the only gaming console with expensive prices.
The PlayStation also has its share of expensive games.
It was also one of the first to unveil $69.99 games.
Since Sony already made $69.99 games a bit more common, Xbox realized it could get away with it as well, without upsetting its players too much.
It allows Xbox to simply point at PlayStation and claim that it raised prices, too.
This also demonstrates the monopoly that has formed in gaming.
There are really only four major companies involved in making games for players.
You have PC gamers, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo.
There isn’t much competition between the different studios at this point.
As such, each studio is more or less able to work with the others.
They can each set the prices that they want gamers to pay.
Since it’s unlikely that there are going to be any more console developers any time soon, the power remains with them.
Xbox games are expensive because Xbox is matching Sony’s prices.
5. Games Offer Longer Play Time
Another reason Xbox games are expensive is that some games offer hours’ worth of content.
A standard AAA RPG can take 80 hours or more to complete.
That’s usually because game studios fill it with collectibles and other nonsense quests.
The goal of the studio is to keep players playing its game for as long as possible.
For some companies, the game becomes a live service game.
The studio regularly updates the game over time, offering new content.
These types of games are usually involved in microtransactions as well.
A live service game essentially lasts for as long as the player base remains active.
Because a game might take several days to finish, you’re essentially receiving your money’s worth from it.
You may have paid nearly $70 for a game, but if it takes you several weeks to finish the game, then your $70 is likely well spent.
You can spread that $70 across that time to determine how much it cost you each day to play it.
For example, if you spend $70 and it takes you 14 days to finish a game, then you really only paid $5 each day.
Consider the amount of time it took the game developers to create a game that takes 14 days or more to finish.
That’s a considerable cost.
Five dollars a day compared to paying a developer each of those days is a steal.
That said, a $70 game that doesn’t last a long time could certainly be a rip-off.
You’re not receiving the amount of time with the game that the $70 price tag warrants.
In most cases, however, $70 means you can expect to play a pretty long game.
Xbox games are expensive because longer games give you more value which equates to a higher price.
6. Microsoft Is Buying Gaming Studios
The Microsoft Corporation owns Xbox.
As such, anything that Microsoft buys could impact Xbox.
In the past few years, Microsoft has been on a spending spree for game studios.
By buying the studios, there’s a good chance that those studios will only make games for Xbox and PC.
Since Xbox and PlayStation no longer compete with one another as far as hardware, they have to compete with one another with content.
To get an edge over its competition, Microsoft has started buying out studios.
Some of the studios it has recently bought include the following:
- Activision Blizzard
- 343 Industries
- The Coalition
- Ninja Theory
- Playground Games
- Undead Labs
- Compulsion Games
- Obsidian Entertainment
- InXile Entertainment
- Double Fine
- ZeniMax Media
Some of these purchases cost the company billions of dollars.
Microsoft is betting big on bringing these studios and publishers into the fold.
Because the company has been spending a lot, it has also needed to cover its costs.
Higher prices on games allow Microsoft to shore up more money to make more purchases in the future.
Xbox games are expensive because Microsoft is spending a lot of money on purchasing studios and publishers.
7. Frequent Sales
Although Xbox games are quite expensive, the company does run frequent sales.
This allows gamers to save on games that might have cost them a lot of money otherwise.
Even the $69.99 games might be discounted if gamers are willing to wait long enough.
Sales can help bolster some earnings, but because gamers aren’t paying the full price, the studio isn’t earning as much money as it normally would.
To make it worth the investment, the studio tends to put a high price tag on its game from the start.
That allows the studio to earn a lot of money on the initial sales.
It also means Xbox receives a bigger cut of the pie, too.
Xbox games are expensive because many of them go on sale which can hurt profits.
8. Pushes Gamers To Purchase A Game Pass
Xbox is very invested in its Game Pass service.
Game Pass is a subscription service.
Gamers pay a certain fee each month, and they can automatically play any game listed on the Game Pass page for free.
It can be a great way to save money if you play games often.
Otherwise, you might not be getting your money’s worth.
Because it’s a subscription service, it also means that Xbox receives a bigger cut of the pie on game sales.
The gamers are going through Game Pass to access certain games.
When gamers see the $69.99 price tag on some games, it might encourage them to buy Game Pass instead.
Since that’s what Xbox wants its players to do, it maintains high prices on new games.
Xbox games are expensive because it allows Xbox to encourage players to pay for its Game Pass service instead.
9. Funds New Consoles And Technologies
Although Microsoft isn’t quite as competitive with PlayStation regarding consoles anymore, it still puts a lot of effort into producing new technology.
It doesn’t want to fall behind in console power or features, for example.
As such, the company is always looking to invest in its console or service technology.
Since it’s investing, it needs to pull that money from somewhere.
Game profits is a suitable fund.
To ensure there’s enough profit to fund certain operations, the game’s price needs to be on the higher side.
Xbox games are expensive because some of the profits go towards funding new console designs and technology.
A final reason Xbox games are expensive is microtransactions.
A lot of Xbox games have microtransactions in them because Xbox is often focused on multiplayer or live-service games.
These types of games are ideal for microtransactions since people want to show off certain things to one another.
Microtransactions are additional payments that you make in a game.
It might be to buy an emote or skin that your character wears.
If you’re not careful, you could end up spending another $69.99 on microtransaction purchases.
Xbox games are expensive because many of the games have microtransactions in them.