Both companies have had tech showcases, and game reveals. Sony stirred a bit of controversy with the unveil of its massive (in size) PlayStation 5 system (due to said size). Microsoft stirred a lot of ill will after showcasing a Halo Infinite demo that looks decidedly current generation (with pop up and all), and is still trying to mend some of the damage done to the Xbox brand by the fallout from the showcase.
What both companies refuse to do, however, is reveal the price point for their next gen machines. At this point, it should be a worrisome sign for gamers as one of the two systems is likely to debut at $499 or higher.
That is not an attractive price point, historically every console that has debuted at that price point (or higher) has either failed or struggled to succeed.
Let’s look back at a few examples:
The Sega Saturn – The Sega’s failed 32-bit system had a lot of issues, apart from pricing, but the price of the console didn’t do it any favors. Launching at a whopping $399 in the mid 90’s ( a full $100 more than the original PlayStation) parents found the system expensive, as $400 in the 90’s was the equivalent of shelling out $600 dollars today.
The 3DO, Phillips CDi, and Neo-Geo – All 3 systems that almost no 90’s kid ever played (unless your parents were rich) failed, partly because all three launched at $600, or over. In the 90’s that money was the equivalent of spending over $1000 on a home console today!
The PlayStation 3 – The cheapest PS3 model launched for $499, it made the $399 Xbox 360 look like a steal at the time. It definitely held back the console’s success for the first half of its life cycle.
The Xbox One – Launching at $499 it reversed roles with Sony in 2013 by being more expensive than the $399 PS4 thanks to the bundled (at the time mandatory) Kinect unit. Microsoft ended up losing the console sales war to both Sony and Nintendo.
Which Company Will Show its Hand First?
So, as we have learned, home console gamers, and parents have never been able to adjust to a $499 price point, but both current Next-Gen consoles seem to have the Hardware (Series X with its powerful GPU, and PS5 with its ultra fast SSD, and new ‘Haptic Feedback’ Controller) to merit such a cost at launch.
Microsoft has been rumored to be awaiting Sony’s price reveal to presumably lower theirs, but time is running out for them, as late August is sounding more and more, as the rumored time period where Microsoft is going unveil its Series X price point, forced by the rumored ‘Lockheart’ or Xbox Series S reveal.
Pricing will be key, especially for Microsoft. Out of the two companies (going by current trends) Sony will fare better at a $499 price point. Sony is predicting and preparing to ship (and sell) 10 million units of the PS5 by January 2021. Under the current climate, and Xbox Series X’s poor Halo Infinite showcase, it is hard to envision Microsoft matching that number, and by the company’s own admission, perhaps selling Series X consoles isn’t as important as increasing its Gamepass subscription numbers.
All said, I would be surprised if we reach September, and we don’t have any pricing information for either system. $399-$499 remains our expected price point for the machines.