Since Sony officially announced the PlayStation 5 back in early October, speculation has been rife about lots of things concerning the machine. What will the controller - and, indeed, the console itself - look like? What, other than the specifications which have been announced, will it be able to do? What games will launch with it? It’s safe to say that the PlayStation 5 is one of the most sought-after machines in the entertainment industry already, and it hasn’t even been released yet!
Perhaps one of the most important pieces of information regarding the PlayStation 5 is its prospective price. What will the PS5 cost? It’s not something Sony has announced yet, and that makes a lot of sense; the Japanese gaming giant will want to remain tight-lipped about the PlayStation 5’s price until we get closer to the date of release (holiday 2020, according to Sony) and people can start placing pre-orders. We’re a way off that date yet, so we’re not likely to hear anything official for a while.
Even so, we can play detective a little bit when it comes to the PlayStation 5’s pricing. There are a number of factors at play here that Sony will want to be careful of. Obviously, the company will want to price the PlayStation 5 competitively with the new Xbox console (which also doesn’t have a price yet). The price will need to be low enough not to alienate consumers, but high enough not to mean that Sony makes a massive loss on each sale.
First, it’s worth taking a look at what consoles cost throughout PlayStation history. The first PlayStation launched back in 1995 and cost £299, which works out at around £560 in today’s money. Next, it was the PlayStation 2, the console that dominated its generation and left its rivals in the dust. Again, the PS2 retailed at £299, but considering inflation that only works out at around £494 of today’s money, which is a marked decrease compared to its predecessor.
Sony stumbled slightly with the introduction of the PlayStation 3, which retailed for £425 (for the 60GB version). The PS3’s high launch price, compared with some features which weren’t present at launch, caused Sony to lag behind a little in the Xbox 360 generation. Though Microsoft arguably didn’t win - Sony had better games and a better machine, after all - it would take Sony a little time to catch up with their rivals and restore their reputation. (Don’t worry, we’re getting to the PS5’s pricing!)
For the PlayStation 4, Sony decided it would take no chances and lowered the launch price. The PS4 cost a mere £350 at launch, an amount which obviously went up a little when adding in bundles and software but is still impressive. The new slimline PS4 model costs even less, setting you back around £249 for a console and controller. The PS4 Pro is more expensive, of course, but even that won’t cost you more than about £400.
So, with all of these in mind, what can we glean about the PlayStation 5’s potential launch price? Quite a lot. Sony clearly doesn’t want to price the console too high because it could put off consumers, as it did back when the PlayStation 3 launched. The PS4’s price might have been a little low, so it’s a safe bet that given the power of the new machine, Sony will want to charge a little more for it than they did for the last generation’s machine.
We’re going out on a limb here: we think the PlayStation 5 will set you back around £450-£500 when it launches. Given that it’s several degrees more powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro, we’re expecting that Sony will want to limit its losses. In most cases, consoles are actually sold for less than it costs to build them, with the manufacturers often making up the difference with peripherals, first-party games, and other deals. The PS5 will likely continue this tradition.
Some of the parts Sony is using to build its PlayStation 5 - a solid state drive, incredible custom graphics, and a super-powerful chip - are going to set the gaming giant back a significant amount of money. It’s not unlikely that the PS5 will cost more than the PS4 for this reason, but we don’t think Sony will break the £500 barrier because that will probably put off consumers. It’s going to be a very delicate balancing act for Sony when they come to decide what the PS5 will actually cost.
One thing’s for sure: whatever the PlayStation 5 costs you, it’ll certainly be a better machine than Microsoft’s rival. With a better software library (we don’t know what the games are going to be yet, but the Xbox doesn’t have anywhere near as many great exclusives as the PlayStation) and a more solid brand, the PS5 is a surefire winner of the next console generation. If it’s prohibitively expensive, people may not buy it, but we think Sony is onto a winner and won’t jeopardise its chances.
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