When Microsoft released the Xbox 360 on November 22, 2005, it marked the first time that console gamers would be treated to high-definition graphics in all their detailed glory. It also marked the beginning of an era where major game publishers would impose a $10 next-gen tax -- $60 per game instead of the usual $50.
The best argument for justifying $60 games is the inflation of other mass media entertainment. Since 1984, the average cost of a movie ticket has nearly doubled. A hardcover book costs 30-50 percent more than it did in the same year, and cable prices have nearly tripled for the same period. Console video games, by comparison, tarried at a steadfast $50 per game for more than 20 years.
What about a rise in development costs -- the primary argument publishers used back in 2004 when first exploring the $60 game standard? While games undoubtedly cost more to make today than they did 20 years ago (think: HD visuals, voice acting, online support, motion-capture), the application of a $10 price increase is inconsistent at best.