PS4 will debut below $400 says analyst

Sterne Agee's Arvind Bhatia says Sony has learned its lesson from PS3, believes Nintendo in a "tough spot."

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The PlayStation 4 will debut later this year below $400, Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia said in a note to investors today ahead of next week's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

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He said Sony was negatively impacted from launching the PlayStation 3 at an "extremely high" $600 and that the company will not repeat this pricing.

"Given that experience, we believe Sony will aim to keep the price point for PlayStation 4 below $400," Bhatia said.

He added that because Sony's PlayStation Network is free, the company is missing out on an opportunity to subsidize the next-generation system through a subscription model.

Still, he believes Sony will stick with a sub-$400 price point, even if it means losing money on the console itself.

Concerning Nintendo's showing at E3 next week, Bhatia said though the company is in a "tough spot" and expectations are low, it is unwise to bet against the Mario maker.

"Never write-off Nintendo," he said, noting the company has the potential to surprise gamers.

Last week, Deus Ex and Epic Mickey designer Warren Spector said, "You underestimate [Nintendo] at your peril."

Though Nintendo is not holding its traditional media briefing this year, the company is launching a Nintendo Direct on June 11 to discuss the future of Wii U and 3DS. The first trailer for the upcoming Wii U and 3DS Super Smash Bros. game, among other things, will be shown at the event.

Lastly, Bhatia discussed expectations for Microsoft, saying the company will use its E3 2013 showing to continue to emphasize the Xbox One as an all-in-one entertainment device. At the same time, he said he believes Microsoft will also refocus attention on the power of the device as a gaming console and will show off numerous platform exclusives.

Microsoft has 15 Xbox One exclusives in the works, eight of which are all-new franchises. The company is expected to announce some of these at E3 next week and more during Gamescom in August.

Bhatia does not believe Microsoft will share pricing information for the Xbox One at E3, instead leaving those details for a later event. A sub-$400 price point would be a "pleasant surprise," he said.

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