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Game Science ups the ante with RMB 268 price tag for Black Myth: Wukong

Written by KrASIA Connection Published on   4 mins read

The bold pricing move for Black Myth: Wukong signals a potential shift in China’s gaming industry.

On the evening of May 19, during the 2024 Tencent WeGame Game Night event, the gaming world was set abuzz with the announcement of the price for Black Myth: Wukong, an action role playing game. Game Science, the developer behind this highly anticipated game title, revealed that the standard PC edition of the game would retail for RMB 268, and this bold pricing decision has stirred considerable discussion, not only among gamers but also within the broader context of the domestic gaming industry in China.

From the moment Game Science first teased Black Myth: Wukong, the game has been shrouded in immense anticipation due to its high-quality visuals, innovative gameplay, and the cultural significance of its story based on “Journey to the West,” a novel that, since its release, has been adapted across various formats to widespread acclaim. The game’s promise of AAA quality from a Chinese developer has also sparked national pride and global interest.

Black Myth: Wukong has aroused a sense of excitement and curiosity not only due to the aforementioned factors, but for standing out in a market accustomed to the relatively low prices of domestic games. RMB 268 is nothing short of groundbreaking when analyzed in the historical context of China’s gaming industry, where pricing has traditionally been kept low.

Thus, Game Science’s decision to step outside this norm signals not only confidence in the quality of the title—it could also signal a potential shift in the industry, prompting discussions about the broader implications of its release on domestic game development and market expectations.

Historical context and pricing traditions

To appreciate the significance of this pricing, it’s essential to understand the traditional landscape of China’s domestic gaming industry.

Historically, domestic games have adhered to a low-price strategy, even for major projects. For example, Gujian 3 (Sword of Legends 3), a well-regarded game developed domestically, was priced at just RMB 99 when it launched in 2018. Despite its high quality and significant production costs, it couldn’t break the perceived RMB 100 ceiling. Such instances paint a picture of an industry averse to the risk of overpricing, fearing the alienation of a price-sensitive player base.

The consequence of this has been the creation of a market environment where high-quality Chinese games struggle to price themselves competitively against international titles. This has, to some extent, stifled innovation and growth, as domestic developers are hesitant to invest heavily in projects that may not see a return due to the prevailing low-cost expectations.

Economic realities and player perceptions

The pricing of video games often entails a delicate balance of economic realities and player perceptions. For buy-to-play games like Black Myth: Wukong, the upfront cost is a critical factor that influences purchasing decisions. Unlike free-to-play games, which can be monetized through in-game purchases across a spectrum of spending levels, buy-to-play games require a more straightforward but riskier proposition: pay up, or miss out.

This sensitivity is compounded by the low-price environment that has long characterized China’s domestic gaming industry. The introduction of RMB pricing on Steam in 2015, while democratizing access to games, also entrenched a low-price expectation among Chinese gamers. This has posed a significant challenge for domestic developers who wish to compete with international AAA titles but are constrained by lower price points and limited profit margins.

Furthermore, the pricing strategy for Black Myth: Wukong directly addresses a key issue: the perceived value of domestic games. By pricing the game at RMB 268, Game Science is signaling confidence in its product’s quality and aligning it with the pricing of established international titles like Dark Souls 3 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. This move challenges the notion that domestic games must be cheaper to be successful and opens the door for other developers to follow suit.

Balancing risks and rewards

Of course, this strategy is not without its risks. The success of Black Myth: Wukong at this price point is not guaranteed. The game must deliver on its promises to justify the cost and meet the high expectations of players. If it succeeds, it could pave the way for more ambitious projects and help elevate the reputation of Chinese games globally. If it fails, it may reinforce the status quo of low pricing and conservative development strategies.

However, the initial reactions suggest a strong sense of optimism. The trailer’s release and subsequent discussions across online and social media platforms indicate a high level of interest and willingness among players to embrace this new pricing model. This willingness may reflect a growing confidence in the quality of domestic games. Players are showing that they could be willing to pay more for a game that meets international standards, which might thereby encourage more developers to invest in high-quality projects.

The future of China’s gaming industry

The pricing of Black Myth: Wukong at RMB 268 could very well signal a new phase for China’s domestic gaming industry, breaking away from the tradition of low-cost, low-profit games and aiming for international AAA standards.

By taking this step, Game Science is not merely setting a price but challenging the industry to think bigger, invest more, and recognize the potential of Chinese games to compete globally.

As the game’s release approaches, both the industry and players will be watching closely. The results of this pricing decision could influence domestic developers’ strategies and aspirations, serving as a significant indicator of confidence and a potential catalyst for change in China’s gaming market.

Note: RMB 268 is the price for a digital copy of Black Myth: Wukong’s standard PC edition. Game Science also offers a digital deluxe version at RMB 328 and a RMB 60 upgrade pack for standard edition buyers to switch to the deluxe version. Limited physical copies of the PC version are available in deluxe and collector’s editions, priced at RMB 820 and RMB 1,998, respectively. The standard edition of Black Myth: Wukong will also retail on Steam for USD 60.


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