Nobody knows yet, but there are arguments to be made for both ‘high’ and ‘low’
The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are coming this year, but both Microsoft and Sony have been extremely cagey about pricing, leading many to fear the worst. Neither side of the console war wants to be first with pricing, and for good reason: Microsoft announced the Xbox One’s $499 launch price and was instantly undercut by Sony’s $399 PS4.
In other words, showing your hand too early is asking for trouble, which means we’re in an amusing game of chicken. They have to reveal pricing before release, but which company will make the first move is still very much up for grabs.
In the meantime, we can but speculate. So just how much will the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X cost? Annoyingly, you can make cases for both ‘enticingly cheap’ and ‘eye-wateringly expensive’.
Why might the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 be expensive?
People fearing the worst point to the console specs and what the equivalent setup would cost if you were building a gaming PC. Both consoles come with high-capacity SSDs (1TB for Microsoft, 825GB for Sony) which could easily sell for over £100 on their own, and the closest thing to the GPU in both machines will currently set you back about £350 on its own.
That’s already £450, and we’re still missing most of the things that would make the consoles run: a CPU, motherboard, RAM, PSU, gamepads and a case. Y’know: little things.
Put it through that frame of reference and a console war in the £600+ range doesn’t seem implausible – massively eclipsing both the Xbox One (£429) and PlayStation 3 (£425) launch prices.
Why could the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 price be surprisingly low?
But – and it’s an enormous ‘but’ – you’ve got to remember what happened to those high-priced consoles after they went to market.
The best available figures show that the PS4 (launch price: £350) is hammering Xbox One (launch price: £429) on sales by 110 million to 47 million.
The Xbox 360 (£280) vs PS4 (£425) was closer over the course of a generation, with both selling around 85 million units. However, Sony rapidly discounted that launch price, and note that it had handsomely won the two previous generations it competed in.
In other words: price matters. It matters doubly so when the world is involved in an actual pandemic that’s likely to precipitate the deepest recession in living memory. Companies are used to absorbing costs to get units in home, at which point they can put customers on the hook for games and subscriptions – they might just have to do it more aggressively this time around. As former Xbox marketing chief Albert Penello tweeted: “No way this console is over $499.”
So how much will the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X cost?
So after all that, the answer to the question “how much will the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X cost” is frustratingly: we simply don’t know.
However, you’ve come all this way, so I’m going to pin my flag to the mast with a guess. The kind of guess that you can later hold against my credentials when it turns out I’m catastrophically wrong.
From the specs involved, my guess is that both consoles will be the priciest in UK history, but not by as big a margin as you might imagine. I suspect both will come in at (just) under £500, with a further big discount for getting a machine without a disk drive, because the advantages of avoiding the second-hand market for publishers are enormous.
So, cards on the table. My guesses (I’m bolding this because I must stress I have zero insider information):
- Xbox Series X: £499
- PlayStation 5: £475
- PlayStation 5 (disk-free version): £399
- Xbox Series S (the heavily rumoured 1080p version): £350
Let’s see how that goes…
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