Why Are PS5 Games So Expensive? Cost Increase Explained


Gaming is an enriching hobby that has recently evolved into a full-time career for many YouTubers and professional gamers, but recently, the cost to maintain this hobby appears to have reached an all-time high, particularly when it comes to purchasing new PlayStation 5 games. In the days of the original PlayStation and PlayStation 2, new video games were released for $49.99, but nowadays, a new PS5 game easily costs between $59.99-$69.99, and gamers want to know why. 

A myriad of factors contributes to the ultimate cost of a video game, but the overarching reasons why PS5 games are so expensive as of 2022 revolve around the need for companies to increase their budgets to meet consistently rising demands, to utilize revolutionary gaming technology, and cover essential development, marketing, and legal fees. 

In this article, we will detail the top five reasons why PS5 games are more expensive than ever, and why this cost is arguably justified. As you read, you will also learn how these price tags, that appear to imply the cost of PS5 and next-gen games exceed those of previous generations, can be deceiving when you consider economic factors. 

Top 3 Reasons Why PS5 Games Are So Expensive

The process of creating, marketing, and maintaining a successful video game is extensive, but this isn’t necessarily new. While modern-day gaming has certainly required gaming companies like PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo to alter their production and marketing strategies, this alone does not explain why PS5 games are slowly approaching $100 per game with every passing decade.

The most influential reasons why PS5 are so expensive are as follows:

  • Rise in popularity of gaming and, therefore, demand
  • Cost of employment
  • Cost of development resources

Of course, these are not the only factors at play, but they are arguably the ones that contribute the most to that $60-$70 price tag, and we’ll explain why below. 

Rise In Gaming Popularity and Demand

Most avid gamers know that in the 40s and 50s, founding technologies and games that set the groundwork for modern gaming first appeared, and yet, the gaming industry didn’t necessarily thrive in the decades to follow. While cherished arcade games and consoles by Sega, Taito, and Atari were highly influential, the industry crashed in 1983 until Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985.

This revolutionary console, in addition to home computers like the Commodore Vic-20, the Commodore 64 and the Apple II, sparked new interest in home gaming that only increased as portable consoles, like Game Boy, emerged along with advancements in online gaming. 

We hear you; thanks for the history lesson, but what does this have to do with the PS5? Well, it’s fairly evident that prior to the late 80s, there was minimal interest in gaming, in general, much less a community built around it. Fast forward to today, and the strides in gaming technology, game quality, and the sheer size of the gaming community has grown exponentially, and with this increase in participants on a global scale, comes the need to accommodate the overwhelming demand. 

Statistically, more than 227 million Americans say they play video games as of 2022, a figure that grew from 214 million in the previous year. Unsurprisingly, much of this increase has been contributed to individuals of all ages and walks of life playing more videos due to the social restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Source)

While this peak in gaming support is undoubtedly fortuitous for most gaming companies, as it implies increased sales, it also takes a heavy toll on their budgets, as they now have to increase production costs to create and distribute physical copies as well as maintenance costs to ensure virtual copies and online features are up-to-date and running optimally. 

Cost of Employment

This factor is fairly straightforward. Video game coding has only become more technical and demanding as software and consoles have advanced, resulting in coders requiring a significant number of skills and extensive knowledge to be successful in this field. 

Because these individuals put a lot of time and resources into their coding abilities, they do not come cheap. In fact, according to The Tech Wire “the average cost of a mid-level coder is around $120,000 per year.” Granted, this hefty salary is partially due to the rising costs of modern-day living as well as compensation for their skills. (Source)

So, not only do gaming companies pay a pretty penny for their team members, but if you’ve ever watched the end credits of the newest video games in full, like the currently relevant Elden Ring, you’ll notice the sheer number of individuals on each team as well. And not just “coders”; you also have:

  • Artists
  • Designers
  • Sound engineers
  • Programmers
  • Testers

The list goes on. Nowadays, it’s common for most video game development teams to consist of hundreds of team members, especially if the game is coming from big-budget publishers like Sony Interactive Entertainment, Electronic Arts (EA), Ubisoft, and more.

Cost of Development Resources and Legal Fees

As technology advances, PS5 games, as well as video games for other popularity consoles, require companies to have the highest quality equipment and enough room in their budget for necessary development resources in order to bring a video game from the point of conception to a complete product. 

The process of research and development along could cost anywhere between $7,500 to $50,000. This is largely because current consoles are capable of handling 128 bits, resulting in some of the most breathtaking, realistic, and vibrant graphics rendering video gaming has ever known. Of course, achieving this takes a significant amount of development and coding expertise, top-of-the-line equipment, and other resources. (Source)

This is where next-gen consoles come into play, as they consistently push the boundaries of what gaming consoles of capable of, and every time this happens, research and development costs increase to ensure gamers are receiving the optimal gaming experience. 

Of course, if these costs weren’t enough, you also have to consider legal fees like royalties into the equation. The more esteemed the actor/actress/or brand depicted and/or voiced in the game, the more these royalties will cost. The fact that many modern games are also using 3D scanning and facial recognition technology to capture an individual’s likeness opens a whole separate legal can of worms as well as increasing that person’s rate for the project (since they’re essentially acting at the point, not just voice acting).

Are PS5 Games Actually More Expensive Than Previous Generations?

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So, here comes the million-dollar question. Many gamers have likely noticed that PS5 games have increased further in cost from the once standard of $59.99 to $69.99 in most cases and might find this cost outrageous. In their minds, video games have never been more expensive, but is that necessary true?

While the figures alone imply that PS5 videos games are much more expensive than those of previous generations, the reality is that once the economic factor of inflation is considered, sources conclude that they are actually cheaper now than they would have been, value-wise, even a decade ago.

At first glance, you’d think the cheapest PlayStation video games ever were was in the later years of the PlayStation 1 when new games were released for around $40. However, once you apply inflation to that value, you’ll see how truly expensive everything was. 

Below, we’ve provided a chart of all PlayStation console and game costs as they were listed upon release versus their cost when adjusted for inflation. (Source)

ConsoleConsole Cost at LaunchConsole 2020 CostAverage Game Cost Upon ReleaseAverage 2020 Game Cost
PlayStation (1995)$299.99$509.19$49.99$84.85
PlayStation 2 (2000)$299.99$450.64$49.99$75.09
PlayStation 3 (2006)$499.99$641.55$59.99$76.97
PlayStation Vita (2012)$249.99$281.66$49.99$56.32
PlayStation 4 (2013)$399.99$444.15$59.99$66.61

As you can see, while the numbers themselves might imply gaming was a cheaper hobby back in most people’s childhood days, the reality is that it was even more of an expensive hobby then than it is today. 

Final Thoughts

It’s understandable why gamers nowadays might be a bit miffed by the continually increasing cost of their beloved PS5 games, but in reality, this cost is justified and is, in fact, cheaper than the cost of previous generations. Many gaming experts even go so far as saying that people nowadays should be grateful that video games are so cheap considering the degree of resources, marketing, media, and other factors that go into them. In reality, companies could be charging a lot more for their games, which is why gamers currently get exceptional value for their $60-$70 purchase, for now.

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