Video games get first price increase in 15 years

Plus, remote work could mean pay cuts and an economic comeback

Oct 16, 2020 | Current events
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Next-gen consoles, next-gen prices

That’s the mantra from video game publishers, who are pushing to increase the standard price of top-end games from $60 to $70. From the publisher’s perspective, this mark-up feels like an overdue adjustment for inflation. Prices for blockbuster games haven’t gone up since 2005, when a $60 purchase felt more like $78 in today’s dollars. And now might be the perfect time for a change. Upcoming consoles from Sony and Microsoft have improved power and tech that help justify a price hike. The first AAA game to officially usher in the $70 era? Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, which hits shelves in November. It’s a fitting move for the billion-dollar franchise — Activision also signaled the shift from $50 to $60 dollar games with Call of Duty 2 15 years ago.

“Move away, we’ll cut your pay,” Silicon Valley tells remote workers

The pandemic prompted a mass temporary shift to WFH, and some tech company employees have opted to go remote permanently, trading the high rents of San Francisco for the lower cost of living available basically anywhere else in the US. But employers are reacting with cost of living adjustments of their own, decreasing the pay of employees who escape the Bay Area by as much as 15%. Employers say it's all part of a plan to decentralize long-term and are quick to point out that adjusting pay based on location is standard practice for many employers, including the federal government. But some find the move hypocritical for companies that have gone out of their way to defy business norms, raining free food, gym memberships, and various perks on their employees. Why should the buck (and bucks) stop here? Regardless, the chance to lower one’s expenses still outweighs the drop in pay for many — a survey of tech workers revealed that 44% would happily give up some pay to move out of the Bay.

From sports to the stock market...

Everyone loves a comeback story (well, maybe not everyone). And now economists can join in on some of the fun, according to wealth management firm Glenmede, which estimates that 77% of economic activity lost to social distancing has returned. But just because we’re at C+ levels of recovered participation three-quarters of the way through 2020 doesn’t mean we'll be back to 100% when 2021 begins. Ultimately, a sustained economic recovery still hinges on widespread vaccination. When will that happen? Goldman Sachs analysts believe there’s a 48% chance a vaccine will be available to treat 25 million Americans by Q2 or Q3 of 2021. Glenmeade seems to agree: it believes earnings from corporations won’t reach new highs til midway through 2021. But these estimates could be off-target — perhaps in a positive way. Goldman also says there’s a 42% chance a vaccine will be available even earlier: in Q1 2021.

Is your refrigerator running…

Out of stock? The answer’s an emphatic “yes” for many manufacturers experiencing unprecedented demand for home appliances. As people spend more time at home during the pandemic, their desire to improve their living spaces seems to have trained squarely on the old fridges, dishwashers, and laundry machines that have become daily companions. And the lack of outside entertainment or travel options competing for their dollars leaves more money to spend on an icebox upgrade. But demand alone isn’t responsible for the shortage. The pandemic has also slowed manufacturing and created shipping bottlenecks for both low and high-end appliances, leaving some people waiting on a $10,000 fridge they ordered in May. The dearth of dishwashers may even affect the holiday season. Some retailers are telling shoppers to expect fewer Black Friday appliance deals while manufacturers play catch-up.