PS5 launches later this year, but we still don't know how much it will cost. That's where we come in.
PlayStation 5 launches this year, which means its release is no more than 3-4 months away. Despite that, Sony has still yet to announce PS5's price (or exact release date), mirroring what we've seen Microsoft do with Xbox Series X. This is despite the high-profile PS5 event in June, which focused on games and other details, but not the two concrete bits of info that everyone is clamoring to find out.
We still don't know what Sony's plan is for announcing these details. In order for PS5 pre-orders to become available, the company is going to have to make announcements or at least share these details with retailers soon, the latter of which could result in them leaking. In the meantime, we're left to wonder just how much we'll need to pay for the system--we already know that at least one game, NBA 2K21, will cost $70 on PS5 (and Xbox Series X).
It remains to be seen whether the console itself also sees an increase in price compared to what we're used to. Sony will offer both the standard PS5 and the disc-free PS5 digital edition, which is essentially the same console with the disc drive removed. The latter will likely come at some kind of discount compared to the other model, but again, this is merely guesswork right now. Sony could opt to bundle that system with something and sell it at the same price. In any event, we know PS5 comes with a free game, Astro's Playroom.
Earlier this year, GameSpot's staff looked at the landscape and made some predictions about how much we think the PS5 will cost. Below, you can see our individual guesses and our rationale behind them. You can also check out our in-depth feature highlighting the key differences between PS5 and Xbox Series X and then see how much we predict Xbox Series's price to end up being.
$500 - Michael Higham, Associate Editor
I'm a long-time PC gamer, so I know the drill when it comes to upgrading components and building new gaming rigs altogether. It has made me somewhat nonchalant about the pricing of gaming hardware--not because I'm a baller (as my bank and ViacomCBS can confirm), but because the top of the line hardware comes at a high cost.
Concerning the PS5, just thinking about its solid-state drive (SSD) capabilities has me expecting a high-end price point. Super-fast NVMe SSDs for PCs have become a bit more affordable but are still considered a luxury item. So far, the SSD has been one of the biggest flexes of the PS5, reducing 15-second load times to a fraction of a second in some cases.
Another aspect to consider is that the PS5 (and Xbox Series X) will have games that use ray tracing, which is a high-end graphics feature even on PC. You also need an Nvidia RTX graphics card to even do it properly, and while RTX cards have become more affordable, it's still not exactly cheap.
PS5 uses brand-new tech in AMD's RDNA 2 graphics that will be capable of 4K resolutions and possibly higher frame rates. Of course, it'll be up to developers on how to best take advantage of those features. But making a capable console requires a lot of power, and the recent Unreal Engine 5 showcase is indicative of that.
If games are going to look this good and run this smooth, I don't mind shelling out $500. But I will want to see an enticing lineup of games or clearer messaging on how PS4 games will benefit before making a purchasing decision.
$450 - Dave Klein, Entertainment Video Producer
I admit these days I'm in a fortunate position that--unlike the era of my childhood where I would spend months upon months saving up and working odd jobs so I could afford a system--I no longer have to worry about new console price points. But, even then, it's still a hefty investment, and I also strongly feel these systems should be priced affordably.
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While I understand the parts that go into these are expensive, and often console makers sell systems at a loss, companies still feel greedy when companies ask for too much money. It reminds me of the PS3 era when Sony was so over-bloated in their confidence, and the price point was so outrageous at the time, that it turned me off from ever buying their system.
Due to inflation over time, prices inevitably go up, so considering the last-gen systems launched at $400, I'm okay with a $500 launch price. However, that still seems like a lot to me, especially when you can buy a Switch for $300. Perhaps it's because I've never particularly cared about graphical capability, and I'm really only in it for the newest wave of fun games. Still, any specs beyond obliterating load times aren't as much of a selling point as they used to be for me. So, I'm splitting it down the middle! I'm okay with $500, would prefer $400, but will go with $450.
$500 - Tony Wilson, Video Producer
I think we all remember that disastrous $599 USD price announcement. Some years later, the PS4 launched at $399. Do you know what sits nicely between those two numbers? $499. That's a reasonable price I'm willing to pay to play next-gen games and bring over supported backward-compatible PS4 titles I already own.
Would I pay more? Yes, but not for what has currently been announced. If Sony were to magically make all PS4 (and even PS3 or earlier) games playable on the PS5, it could get away with charging more. However, a limited selection of backward-compatible games doesn't entice me as much, especially when compared to the Xbox's impressive, ever-growing library.
Any higher price than $499, and you're starting to approach meme territory again. Throw in PlayStation's incredible history of games, however, and I bet even the most prominent critics of Genji: Days of the Blade would pay it to fight another giant enemy crab in 2020.
$450 - Eddie Makuch, Editor
Video game consoles are expensive to buy brand new, and this trend is going to continue with the PlayStation 5. I would expect the next-generation console to sell for $450 to $500 USD at launch. Sony cannot go near the disastrous $600 USD launch price point for the PlayStation 3, and $400 seems too low for the PlayStation 5 given its components and other factors.
The PlayStation 4, which became the highest-selling console in years, released at $400 USD in 2013, but the market has changed. There have also been complications and uncertainties related to manufacturing and assembly due to COVID-19.
The PS5's impressive and beefy new guts come at a cost, and all that power is making the system run hot. Bloomberg reported that Sony is struggling to price the PS5 due to its costly parts, including a cooling system that the company is paying extra for to help mitigate that heating issue. Gaming consoles are often sold at a loss, with software and services revenue paying the bills until the price of components comes down. This trend is expected to continue for PS5, which is why I think a $450-$500 price point at launch is reasonable, with a $50 price cut after 18 months.
$500 - Phil Hornshaw, Editor
Video games have always seemed like a massive, hard-to-justify expense to me, even as a person who covers games for a living. I know that's the case with a lot of other people, and that's why I'd struggle to go higher than a $500 price tag. We can talk all day about the hardware under the hood of the PS5, but for a lot of people, $500 is a massive expense for entertainment (especially when it's just opening the door to more stuff you have to buy).
Here's the thing: in a lot of ways, gameplay haven't drastically changed over the last few hardware generations with the addition of more power. Occasionally we get something that feels like a serious step forward, like (somewhat) affordable virtual reality, something like Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis system, or massive player counts in multiplayer games that genuinely make them feel new. But I remember firing up my PS4 and Knack after dropping $400 on the console on the evening of its launch, only to find a relatively by-the-numbers 3D action platformer--but with more particles. The PS4 has become my most-used hardware this generation, but it was mostly a Resogun machine and an expensive Netflix box during the launch period.
The point is that there might be a lot of power in new game hardware and that the internal components might be expensive. Still, I think most people aren't especially concerned with what's under the hood of their game consoles--not having to worry about the components is the point of buying a console in the first place, as opposed to a high-end PC. They do care about fresh and novel game experiences, but the last few hardware generations have slowed in really differentiating themselves from one another. Any high price tag is tough to swallow, and while the hardware might require the PS5 to push $500 or more, I'm not sure that's a cost a lot of people will be willing to bear, at least until the console proves itself with graphics and experiences to justify the leap.
$550 - Chris Pereira, Engagement Editor
In my mind, the exotic storage device included in the PS5, along with all of its other high-end hardware, all but guarantees a high price tag. But perhaps more than what the components themselves will cost Sony, I think the company is likely to lean heavily on the momentum it's built this generation and not worry about how its price may compare with that of the Xbox Series X.
Through the streams that have taken place this year, we've seen that PS5 seems to have more consumer interest than Xbox Series X. Because of that, Sony may think it can succeed regardless of price tag, so long as that price tag doesn't end up being something like $700. That makes $550 feel like the sweet spot (with a $500 price for the digital edition).
Microsoft hasn't announced its cheaper Lockhart console yet--now likely to be named Xbox Series S--but it ensures that Microsoft has the cheapest next-gen system on the market. That's more reason for Sony to focus on its own offering instead of worrying about how the PS5's price tag may look; those seeking a cheap upgrade are more likely to pick up a Series S.
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