With next-gen consoles right around the corner, some game publishers with soon to be released titles are trying to ease the transition by offering free upgrades to the newer hardware. It’s a nice gesture and a way to get players who may be considering getting the latest systems to buy the game now. However, other companies seem to have found it an opportunity to squeeze wallets a bit more.
On Thursday, 2K Sports unveiled more information about its next installment in the NBA 2K franchise, including box art, pricing, bundling, and pre-orders.
The packaging for both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox One will feature Portland Trail Blazers’ point guard Damian Lillard on the cover of the standard edition. As was hinted at during the PlayStation 5 reveal trailer, the PS 5 and Xbox Series X box art will host New Orleans Pelicans’ forward Zion Williamson.
NBA 2K21 will also have a deluxe version called the “Mamba Forever Edition,” commemorating the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant. On current consoles, the packaging will show Bryant in the middle of a windmill dunk in his number 8 jersey. Next-gen hardware shows the “Black Mamba” waving to the crowd in his number 24 jersey, which seemed a very fitting farewell gesture since Bryant died in a helicopter crash back in January.
Pricing is where the waters start to get murky. The standard edition will be the typical $60 on current consoles, but 2K is charging $70 on next-gen platforms. The Mamba Forever package will be $100 regardless of console. In addition to a few in-game perks, the special edition also includes cross-generation upgrades.
Square Enix recently announced that PS4 and XB1 versions of Marvel’s Avengers, which coincidentally launches the same day as NBA 2K21, would include free upgrades to the next-gen counterparts. In that light, for a sports title, it seems a bit greedy to only throw in cross-generational upgrades with the more expensive version, especially since the game already has microtransactions. But that’s just this writer’s opinion.
Could this be the next trend we see for a while—game publishers bundling cross-gen upgrades with pre-orders and deluxe versions of their games? More importantly, will it work? Even coming from the standpoint that you are getting the second game at a discount, you are still buying the game twice. Many players considering next-gen purchases might be more inclined to hold off until the holidays rather than paying for NBA 2K21 on September 4.
The new pricing scheme is also an indication that we might see an industry-wide price bump on the new hardware. If NBA 2K21 were to be the model, it would be an additional $10 for the standard versions of games and $20 more for deluxe, which typically run $80 right now. Of course, it is too early to say for sure. We’ll see how the landscape looks when the dust settles.