The PS5’s games unveil last Thursday added to the growing of hype of the next generation machines. We have now seen games running on both machines, and the expectations for each console will only grow as Sony and Microsoft continue to showcase their games and plans for their respective launches. The one thing that remains elusive however, is the pricing of these next gen machines.
There is an advantage in going second, Sony showed this last week, where they avoided most, if not every mistake made by Microsoft in it own previous games unveil showcase. Thus, both Sony and Microsoft continue to play the waiting game to see who unveils a price point first.
While Microsoft has been a little more flexible in terms of hinting at an affordable price point. Phil Spencer has been candid about acknowledging that the COVID-19 effect on the economy could impact Series X price point and the company’s approach at launch.
Sony has yet to make such concessions, as the company might not be as willing to take as big a loss on its Hardware as Microsoft is (Microsoft has deeper pockets).
As we scramble to guess and predict the price points for both man former Xbox (Marketing) Executive Albert Penello, a man with historical knowledge on the inner workings of console pricing surprisingly guessed a “low” estimate for the PS5’s price point on his twitter feed.
I believe in the saying "never say never"
But I gotta say never. No way this console is over $499.
— Albert Penello (@albertpenello) June 12, 2020
While the tweet is encouraging, one has to wonder and the number is along the lines of what we have predicted on this site (A $500 price point), it would be interesting if Sony did launch at that price-point, as rumors – and some analysts – indicate that Microsoft is willing to match and better whatever price point Sony establishes for its console.
The historical sweet spot for console pricing has been anywhere from $199-$399. Anything over it has been overkill and has hindered console sales at launch. Back in the mid 90’s Sega shot down the Sega Saturn right at the gates with an exorbitant $399 price point, as the Sony PlayStation was only $299. Sony itself struggled for half of the PS3’s lifecycle because of its high $599 ($499 for its 20GB version) price tag at launch. The Xbox 360 fared much better at first because it was $100 dollars cheaper than the cheapest PS3 unit at $399.
Sony learned from its mistake and placed an attractive $399 price tag on its PS4, while Microsoft priced its Xbox One at $499 (Kinect drove the price up), and we all know how that story ended. Pricing is key and there is reason to believe that Sony’s machine will be at least $100 dollars more expensive than Microsoft’s Series X.
Sony has a more advanced controller, with haptic feedback, a built-in microphone and speaker. Expensive controllers have been catalysts for pricing troubles for consoles before. The Wii U is an extreme case in point, the hardware was underpowered, but its tablet controller kept the console at a $349 price point for most of its lifecycle.
The PS5 also has a cutting edge SSD, which will drive the price of the unit up. It will be interesting to see how the pricing battle takes shape as we approach the consoles respective launches, and whether the final price points will decide who takes the early lead, or at least if Microsoft can get some of its lost hardware market share back from Sony by selling its console at a rumored lower price point.