PS5, Xbox Series X's Prices Are A Mystery Still, But It's Not As Weird As You Think
How much will PS5 or Xbox Series X cost? We'll know soon, but the wait for that information isn't unprecedented.
Sony is now allowing fans to essentially pre-register for the chance to pre-order a PS5. By entering your PSN ID, you can indicate your interest to pre-order a PS5. This doesn't guarantee you a pre-order, and, critically, we still don't know the price, release date, or when those pre-orders will become available. The way this is being handled suggests Sony may favor its own first-party store for handling PS5 pre-orders, a possibility noted below as an explanation for why these essential details remain unknown.
Just a few months from now, next-generation consoles will be with us. The Xbox Series X has been confirmed for a November release, and Sony has repeatedly stated that PlayStation 5 will launch before the end of 2020. But how much is it going to cost to pick up a PS5 or Xbox Series X once they do finally hit? There's been much ado about the fact that Sony and Microsoft have kept key details a mystery, including release date and price, but the fact that we don't know what the systems will cost isn't as unprecedented as you might think--you only need to look a few years back to see an even more extreme example.
Nintendo Switch launched on March 3, 2017, but it wasn't until January 12--less than two months earlier--that Nintendo shared a price or release date. That's 50 days before launch! It's wild to think that news came so late in the game, but that didn't stop the Switch from selling out when pre-orders went live just hours after the date and price were announced (though there were some available at launch). Likewise, Xbox 360's price wasn't announced until mid-August, just three months before launch.
I've seen people continue to express astonishment that such critical details about PS5 or Xbox remain unknown at this late stage. And I get it: Who can forget PS3's "five-hundred and ninety-nine US dollars" at E3 2006, five months before release? We heard about pricing for PS4 and Xbox One back to back during E3 in June 2013, again, five months before they hit store shelves. While this year may not have seen an E3, we have already gotten events from both Sony and Microsoft that effectively served as substitutes for their usual E3 press conferences, and yet these details remain unknown as of mid-August.
PS5 and Xbox Series X are going to sell out at launch regardless of their exact release dates and prices. Supply constraints are always the major hurdle for a major new console launch, and that's certain to be the case once again this fall, Halo Infinite or not.
Sony and Microsoft are playing something of a cat-and-mouse game, but they are reaching a point where they'll have no choice but to announce pricing. As NPD's Mat Piscatella points out, retailers need to have this information in order to open pre-orders and to generally handle the logistics of selling a new piece of hardware. Once retailers begin to get that information, it will invariably leak, so it's likely that both companies would aim to make an announcement around the time retailers are informed.
At some point retail hardware allocations must get locked. Retailers have to know how many they'll have to sell, and how much they'll have to spend to acquire the inventory. Once that happens, prices will get out there. But we're getting late in the game, retail needs to know.— Mat Piscatella (@MatPiscatella) August 3, 2020
Unless the manufacturers want to shift hardware share to their own online storefronts, that is...………..— Mat Piscatella (@MatPiscatella) August 3, 2020
Piscatella does also intriguingly note the prospect of Sony or Microsoft wanting to focus on selling the systems through their own online stores. Of course, that might not sit well with retail partners, and there's already some question if GameStop--which famously refused to sell the all-digital Xbox One S model--will carry the PS5's Digital Edition, which lacks a disc drive and thus cuts into GameStop's lucrative used game business.
We've made our own predictions for how much Xbox Series X and PS5 will cost, with many of us here at GameSpot expecting them to come in around the $500 mark. The real wild card will be the still-unannounced Xbox Series S and just how low Microsoft decides to push its price. The goal with that system will surely be to undercut the price of both Series X and PS5, but it can only effectively make that announcement once we know what those confirmed consoles will cost.
One way or another, we'll be finding out about pricing soon, and once we do, that should set off a flurry of other announcements. Exciting times lie ahead.
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