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BREAKING NEWS: Ready Player One Sequel Book Coming November + PS5 Game Box Design Revealed + Are $70 Next-Gen Games the Norm?

Image collage done by me, but individual screenshots from Amazon and PlayStation Blog. Image credit for game box to Sony, Marvel, and Insomniac. 

Hello, everyone. This is Arca, and today I will be doing a news roundup of sorts. This post was originally, as I hinted at in yesterday's post (which you should totally read here), going to focus on next-gen AAA games potentially all costing $70 rather than $60. Then, two pieces of breaking news occurred. First, yesterday at noon, the book sequel to Ernest Cline's 2011 movie-sparking phenomenon Ready Player One was given a confirmed title, cover, and release date. Then, just 3 hours ago as of the time I started typing up this post, Sony via the official PlayStation Blog showed off for the first time what PlayStation 5 games will have as their cover art design through Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Let's tackle all of those subjects, as well as my thoughts on them, in precisely that order, starting with...

Ready Player Two book is happening, likely the same week as the PS5/Xbox Series X launch.

Image Credit: Random House/Goodreads; available November 24th. Pre-order here if you'd like, or here, or anywhere else books are sold.

I really wish Ernie had gone with the title "Player Two, Press Start" instead of this obvious, a bit more obnoxious choice. I understand why it's being called this, so that way people know that this has to be a sequel to the first book, but if he really wanted to continue the arcade game reference in the title, then he had to do "Player Two, Press Start". Oh, well. Anyways, here we are, and yesterday a cover and release date was announced for Ready Player Two, the sequel to 2011's 2018's Spielberg-film-causing (now that's a confusing start to a sentence) sci-fi novel jam-packed with pop culture references and nods to gaming culture. I read Ready Player One two years ago, and I have to say, despite it obviously not being a masterpiece of literature, I'm glad it's not. (This is the association I have with literary masterworks after a certain 200-year-old novel, *cough cough* Pride and Prejudice *cough cough*, was forced upon me in a highly traumatic school experience.) It was actually very fun and I loved all the references to Internet culture and gaming history, despite most of the 80s stuff understandably going over my head and me not being as bothered by them as lots of people online seem to be. It was a rare book that I didn't want to end when I started reading it. It was fun and exciting, and I have fond memories of the summer vacation I had (my 13th annual trip to visit my family in Turkey as well as go to the beach there; my 15th one is likely getting canceled) whilst being completely absorbed in the world of that book. 

I know that Cline also made a similar novel, Armada, which online speculation claims was actually his first novel attempt that didn't get published, but I've heard more mixed things about that one. The only reason for me to read that, it seems, would be if I were longing for more RPO. But I guess I will no longer have to wait, since if the first book wasn't lightning-in-a-bottle like a great Star Wars trilogy ending or the original Sonic games, then this book should satiate my need, come this Tuesday before Thanksgiving and likely a few days after the speculated PS5 and Xbox Series X next-gen consoles launches, the 24th. 

PS5 Game Box Design!

Image Credit: Sony/Marvel/Insomniac via PlayStation Blog. Screenshot clipped and taken from that website by me. 

This particular piece of news was one that caught me off-guard when I was trying to search "PS5" in Google Images to get the console itself to show in my thumbnail for the $70-game-debate news, and I was very happy and excited to see it. Today, Sony via their official PlayStation Blog showed off what the design for the game-boxes of the upcoming PlayStation 5 (only compatible with the presumably higher-costing non-digital edition of the console, of course) would look like, using the holiday 2020 spin-off title Spider-Man: Miles Morales (my thoughts on the PS5 reveal event with this game being revealed that I watched live from last month coming in a post hopefully tomorrow!). I understand why the top stripe is white, and I think that part looks good, but I'm not sure how I feel about the box still being blue this time around. 

I understand that the color blue is closely tied with the PlayStation brand's identity, sort of like with Nintendo with red recently and Xbox always with green, but I'm not sure it quite blends in with the white stripe at the top. Black or white could have been a bit sleeker at first glance, but it's not bad by any means and I'll definitely get used to it and love it in time. But what I'm more excited about is how awesome the Miles Morales cover art is. They've ditched the bright red and realistic texture of the original PS4 game's box art, and gone for a more subdued and cartoonish cover art that I have to say, I like a lot more. Miles' pose here with his Venom Strike looks awesome, and I'm already soooo hyped for this game... it's a shame I'm probably going to make the smart decision of waiting a couple of years for an even-better-looking slim revision of the console and a price drop on the console along with all of its games. But wow, as more details like this are confirmed, it's going to get harder for me to wait. 

NBA 2K21 starts a $70 Next-Gen Games Debate

Image Credit: 2K Games

Now, I'm not one who cares about sports games that much in general. Chances are if you're reading this post, you also might not care about them. But before you click off, wait! This is very important and will impact all of gaming possibly by the end of this year. You might want to squint at that image above near the center column. Hmm, so the platforms listed are "PS5, Xbox Series X". So this is the next-gen edition of this annual sports game. Makes sense enough. But wait, take a look at the row above that one, and see the price-tag. That's right, $69.99 for the standard next-gen edition. Not a special-edition or a collector's edition or some deluxe edition. To translate that to non-marketing-speak, that's a cost of $70. Why is this a big deal? Well, for around 15 years, the standard for AAA games in terms of their price was always $60. 

$60 has, for all of these years, been the maximum price to suffice to afford you a big game release upon its launch. If a game costs less, that's since either A.) it's on sale, B.) it got a permanent price cut or a new box-art "DLC/GOTY edition later down the line, or B.) it's a smaller budget, AA or indie title. But here's the thing, for years now, game development costs have been getting more expensive. This is obvious when you take a look at how many games are getting increasingly hyper-realistic graphics and textures and bigger open worlds and more quality acting and such. So, while $60 might have covered all of the expenses of a game studio, including the salaries of often over-worked and exhausted game developers and artists, as well as marketing and distribution, with next-gen right around the corner, that might not be the case anymore. 

Now, there is a lot to be said on this topic and I won't go into all of it. To summarize, Xbox already offers a free next-gen upgrade for the Xbox Series X with enhances, so Microsoft might not have been expecting this. In other words, the Xbox Series X edition is pretty pointless for this particular cross-generational game. Also, NBA 2K games are highly monetized, so this isn't a big surprise. Also, I'm not sure how much revenue is shared with the NBA for game sales like this, but I'm assuming at least some is, and given the current financial scenario of just about every sporting league in existence right now due to the pandemic, I've seen it suggested online that maybe the NBA is trying to compensate for that since they know that kids and families will buy the game, regardless of price or if it's that different from it's predecessor (almost always recently, usually, no). I think it's probably just going to be limited to 2K, for now. 

If all next-gen games are like this, then that would actually contradict a PS5 game pre-order listing that's $59.99! Ahem, now that I've got that first piece of major panic-ending debunking final evidence on the matter, then I think that already convinces me otherwise. This Reddit post (albeit with some calls to boycott; just bear with it for the actual argument presented; does a good job of explaining why NBA is $70 and why that still might not end up being the norm. Basically, microtransactions (despite a lot of people hating them) are already a way companies make up for higher budgets, and also, you probably also know that collector's editions and special editions and season passes exist. Many games nowadays are designed to have further expenses after you first buy them, anyways, like it or not. There's still a chance for a $70 price tag to not be the norm if DLC models continue to succeed. 

I wouldn't be too upset with $70 since it would, for most games that aren't worthy of that price tag in terms of value in enjoyment, convince me to wait for a discount or sale. If I would have wanted to get a game day 1 anyways, I'd typically be fine with paying a bit more. Examples of games I've played with more than just a $60 value in enjoyment and quality despite costing that much or less include obviously Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Minecraft, and Celeste. Granted, all of those examples have smaller budgets than most AAA PS5 titles will have, but you get the idea. 


Anyways, that wraps it up for today's daily post. What did you think about the news and opinions I talked about today? Excited for Ready Player Two? What did you think about the original, if you read it? What do you think of the PS5 game box design? Would you be fine with $70 next-gen games? Leave all of that and other related things in the comments below, respectfully, if you'd like. If you enjoyed reading this or learned anything new, then sharing it with a friend or two would be appreciated. I plan to make a daily blog post every single day this summer except for weekends and possibly in August depending on how my vacation plans go (there's potentially anywhere from a 1%-50% chance of me masking up and going to Turkey anyways next month-- a big range and a potentially big risk, I know). My next post might just be about my slightly-late PS5 reveal event reaction and thoughts. 

I also have a YouTube channel where I will try to post another long-overdue edited full-length vacation vlog featuring footage and events from 1-2 years ago every week or two: Be sure to subscribe to that, as well. Anyways, until next time, this is Arca, signing off. Stay safe, and have a good one!