The last few months have been a whirlwind of bad press for Sony- which feels weird to say. The PS5 has been selling like hotcakes since launch, becoming the fastest selling console in history, it’s been getting a steady stream of solid exclusives, from Demon’s Souls to Returnal to Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, and with the likes of God of War: Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West and so much else to look forward to, it’s fair to say that where the console’s lineup is concerned, the future looks bright. But with the closure of SIE Japan Studio, their sidelining of the Japanese market, Sony’s aggressive new pricing model, recent reports of Sony’s poor treatment of indies, their emphasis on cross-gen releases, their unintuitive generational transitions in the absence of something like Smart Delivery, and more, it seems like Sony has been making one bad decision after another to draw the ire of the masses.
The recent announcement of Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut should have been a break from that. Sucker Punch’s gorgeous open world epic was one of 2020’s best games, and it has enjoyed the kind of critical and commercial success that reflects that. The announcement of an expanded and improved version of that game should have been met with nothing but excitement and praise. And there’s been plenty of that, sure enough- but it’s been blotted out significantly by the fact that once again, Sony’s ugly and increasingly cynical pricing policy is rearing its head.
On PS5, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut costs $70, same as most other first party PS5 releases, which is reason enough for some to be unhappy about its price, but the aforementioned cynical pricing of the release goes far beyond that. There are absolutely no free upgrade options. If you own Ghost of Tsushima on PS4, you need to pay $30 to upgrade to Director’s Cut on PS5, but even if you want to upgrade to Director’s Cut on the PS4, you need to pay $20. And if you get Director’s Cut on the PS4, upgrading to the PS5 requires $10. It’s a carefully devised plan that requires the consumer to cough up more money at every step, it seems.
To begin with, it’s ridiculous that an expanded version of a game that came out just a year ago is charging this much money at all. It’s the definition of predatory pricing. Launch a game, sell it to millions at full price, then re-launch it with some improvements and additions a year later, and then charge even more money for it- those who’ve already purchased it previously be damned. Upgrading from the base game’s PS4 version to Director’s Cut on the console requires $20, a third of the base game’s price- and for what? The Iki Island expansion is likely going to be a meaty chunk of content, but meaty enough for an additional $20?
Then there’s the fact that a PS4 to PS5 upgrade of the Director’s Cut itself also requires $10- Sony’s just refusing to give an inch. They want that full $70 for the game on the PS5, and one way or another, they’re going to get it. And they know exactly what they’re doing. Sackboy: A Big Adventure, a game that they knew wasn’t going to be a big seller, was gladly sold at $60 on both PS4 and PS5 and offered a free upgrade path- but Ghost of Tsushima, a tentpole release that many will end up spending additional money on even when they know they’re being fleeced, is not taking that sort of an approach. Again. The definition of predatory.
Their increasingly more aggressive pricing of games with the PS5 has been getting plenty of attention over the last half year or so. The fact that Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered was locked behind a $70 edition of Miles Morales instead of being made available as a free upgrade to owners of the game’s PS4 version was noticed. The fact that Destruction AllStars, of all games, was originally going to be sold for a full $70 was noticed (though thankfully, they thought better of that and slashed the price to $20, on top of also offering it for free with PS Plus for some time). The fact that Returnal, Demon’s Souls, and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart have been sold for $70, as excellent as they all are, has been noticed. And in light of all of that, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut’s predatory pricing just seems emblematic of an increasingly worrying trend of corporate greed.
What’s frustrating is that that sort of an approach is clearly archaic. We know for a fact that there are better ways for companies to go about this stuff. Not that long ago, companies were charging – often full price – for remasters on pretty much a daily basis, but since that was an industry-wide norm, there weren’t a lot of people taking issue with that. But with the advent of this new console generation and things like Smart Delivery, the games industry as a whole has started outgrowing that stuff. Surprisingly major technical upgrades are being given to existing owners of games for free, remasters and enhanced releases – like Metro Exodus, for instance – are being released as free upgrades. And yet here’s Sony, taking every chance it can get to dive deeper into the pockets of its consumers.
Of course they want to charge money for the Iki Island expansion- that makes total sense. I’m not begrudging that. That’s DLC, for all practical purposes. I do think it’s still asking for more than it should, but even if we look past that, there’s the plain and simple fact that that’s not the only thing Sony is charging you for, evidenced by the fact that even PS4 to PS5 upgrades of the Director’s Cut itself aren’t free. Sony is charging you for the privilege of playing on a PS5, for all practical purposes, which is just so thoroughly ridiculous. If Halo: The Master Chief Collection, a game that’s nearly seven years old at this point, can give away what’s a significant next-gen upgrade for free, why can’t Ghost of Tsushima, a game that launched barely a year ago?
There is that age old argument that’s been brought up, of course- but others do it, too! And sure. Sure they do. Control: Ultimate Edition did the same thing, and that didn’t even have additional new content to fall back on as an excuse. Nintendo basically packed together three simple and extremely conservative “remasters” (if they could even be called those) of Super Mario games and sold them for $60 (and that, too, for a limited time). Activision has adopted this pricing model with Call of Duty, and EA is adopting it with Battlefield. But each of those instances is just as frustrating. “Other companies are doing equally bad things” is not exactly a good defense. Hell, it’s not even a defense. And I don’t know about you, but as industry-leading platform holders, I feel like Sony should be held to a higher standard. What they’re doing right now is exploiting their position of power, which is incredibly disappointing to see.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.