Both Sony and Microsoft have started teasing their 2020 game console releases, but there are precious few confirmed details. A new report claims that anxious gamers could have sticker shock when they try to pick up a PlayStation 5 later this year. The more powerful hardware in Sony’s upcoming console could amount to a hefty $470 price tag.
Sony has talked in general terms about the hardware it plans to use in the PS5. The device will have a new Ryzen-based CPU, nearly instant game loads, 8K video decoding, and ray tracing graphics. Sony has said it will have about as much raw power as a low-end gaming PC. Game consoles are often far less powerful than contemporary PCs, but developers can wring every ounce of performance out of a console. That’s why the PS4 and Xbox One X can look as good as more powerful PCs. A game console that stands on equal footing with PCs could do amazing things.
Sony’s desire to push the envelope with the PS5 has led to ballooning costs, according to Bloomberg. The cost to build each console is reportedly hovering around $450, and Sony is looking at the possibility of charging $470 when the device launches. Small profits on the hardware are par for the course with consoles — the games make much more over the long-term.
Sony is reportedly scrambling to secure DRAM and flash memory in the necessary quantities to mass-produce the PS5. The more powerful hardware also requires a more elaborate (and expensive) cooling system than past Sony consoles. The leaked developer hardware (above) sure does have a lot of grilles on it, but the finaly device probably won’t look exactly like this.
More than a decade ago, Sony released the PS3 with a whopping $499.99 starting price. The version with more storage (60GB) added $100 to that. Early sales were sluggish, and that put Sony at a disadvantage for that entire console generation. Are people more willing to accept a nearly $500 game console now? The Xbox One X launched at $500, and Microsoft has expressed confidence in its sales. However, you could play the same titles on the much cheaper Xbox One variants. There wouldn’t be a cheaper version of Sony’s console, though. $500 today is also less money than it was in 2006, due to inflation (a $500 console in November 2006 would cost $640 today, while the $600 version would cost $768).
Sony’s experience with the PS3 might even prompt it to price the PS5 below cost, just so it can build up a large player base and earn more on games sales and subscriptions like PS Plus. Sony outsold Microsoft in the current console generation, and it might want to keep that momentum going even if it takes a small hit at launch.