- Sony and Microsoft are engaged in a next-gen pricing stand-off.
- Microsoft is looking to remain agile, while Sony remains tight-lipped as it weathers rumored component shortages and spiking production costs.
- A known insider reports that we shouldn’t expect to hear about pricing until August at the earliest.
According to a known insider, don’t expect to hear about PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X pricing until August.
While Sony and Microsoft have treated fans to a more or less steady stream of next-gen nuggets over the past few months, the launch price of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X remains shrouded in mystery.
Whether we’re looking at the hyper-communicative Microsoft or the almost despondent Sony, the story is the same – both remain tight-lipped.
PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series X Pricing Stand-Off
And with good reason. The platform holders are engaged in a game of pricing chicken. Each waiting assiduously for the other to cave first, then adapt its pricing to undercut the other.
Of course, neither Sony nor Microsoft has come out and overtly confirmed as much, but reading between the lines: a next-gen pricing stand-off is underway.
Last month, following Mark Cerny’s PlayStation 5 technical deep dive, Xbox boss Phil Spencer noted that Microsoft is keeping a close eye on the PS5’s price point to ensure it is ‘staying agile’ on Xbox Series X pricing.
Similarly, Sony CFO, Hiroki Tokoki, when pushed for details about PS5 pricing, explained that discussing a ballpark figure was complicated given the head-to-head with Xbox.
Revealing Sony’s cards too early would give Microsoft the upper hand, the implication being that Sony is also waiting for Microsoft to blink first. Tokoki said:
What is not very clear or visible, it’s because we are competing in the space. So it’s very difficult to discuss anything about the price at this point of time. And depending upon the price level, we may have to determine the promotion that we are going to deploy and how much cost we are prepared to pay. So it’s a question of balance.
The Scars of PS4’s $100 Undercut
There’s history here, too. We can trace much of the PlayStation 4’s dominance this gen back to Sony undercutting the Xbox One’s price amid the successive blows aimed at Microsoft during the Japanese giant’s now-iconic E3 2013 showcase.
A $100 price difference is an advantage Sony will want to replicate if at all possible. Equally, Microsoft will do everything in its power to avoid a similar situation this time around.
According to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, an aggressive strategy is on the cards for camp Xbox. Pachter says Microsoft is willing to take a hit and subsidize the first batch of Series X units to undercut the PS5.
And this may be easier than you’d think. Recent rumors suggest component shortages and production costs are driving the price of the PS5 to upwards of $500. Equally, a recent report alleges that Sony will produce far fewer launch units than it did for the PS4 launch.
As such, we may be looking at a more one-sided stand-off with Microsoft waiting patiently for Sony to spill the beans first, brimming with confidence thanks to its financial might and ability to cushion the hit of selling consoles at a loss.
What’s clear is that we’re unlikely to hear a definitive price from either Sony or Microsoft any time soon. According to the increasingly vocal and credible VentureBeat reporter, Jeff Grubb, anything before August seems unlikely.
I wouldn’t expect console prices until August. When Intel, Nvidia, and AMD launch similar products, they wait until the last possible minute to set a price. It’s the one thing they *can* still change. But, of course, consoles rely more on preorders, so can’t wait forever.
In the meantime, we can sit back and enjoy the next act in what has so far been a thrilling head-to-head as the platform holders flaunt their respective next-gen games in the weeks ahead.