The PS5 price and release date are finally official, and it's hard not to feel like Sony may have won this console generation already. With a starting price of $399 for the PS5 Digital Edition, Sony has a reasonable point of entry into the next generation that undercuts the Xbox Series X by $100. And more importantly, it has the games that people are excited about right now.
Let's start by breaking down some prices. The PS5 costs $399 for the discless PS5 Digital Edition, and $499 for the PS5 with disc drive. Compare that to the $299 Xbox Series S, which is also discless but limited to 1440p gaming, and the $499 Xbox Series X, which is focused on a full 4K, 60 frames-per-second experience.
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While Microsoft has the cheapest overall next-gen console with the $299 Series S, that console can't deliver true 4K gaming. Meanwhile, the $399 PS5 Digital Edition is a full-on PS5, just without a disc drive. And considering how prominent digital downloads have become, it'll likely be the PS5 most people buy. While the $499 Xbox Series X is more powerful on paper with 12 teraflops of graphics muscle compared to the PS5's 10.2 TF, you're still getting a true 4K gaming console for $399 with the PS5 Digital.
But it's not just the price that has all but secured Sony's victory in this round — it's the games. Sony's Sept. 16 Showcase was a blistering reminder of this, showing us exciting exclusives such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon's Souls and the surprise announcement of God of War: Ragnarok. Additionally, big games like Final Fantasy XVI and Deathloop will come to PS5 well before they hit Xbox. And that alone already has the internet buzzing about the PS5 stealing the show before it even started. Here's what some people are saying around the web:
PS5 digital edition coming in $100 under Xbox Series X means they pretty much win this upcoming generation, honestly.September 16, 2020
PS5 digital edition for $400 sure seems like the ball game. Microsoft won't care (millions of people will still buy Xboxes and subscribe to Game Pass) but GameStop is toastSeptember 16, 2020
Even IGN's Executive Editor and head of all things Xbox Ryan McCaffrey admits that Sony has done a better job selling the PS5 this summer:
Bottom line: In their 2 events this summer, Sony did a great job of selling the PS5. They showed lots of timed/console exclusives & their big first-party lineup.Xbox, in their 2 events, didn't do a great job of selling their *next-gen* proposition. But they sold Game Pass well.September 16, 2020
And well before this week's big reveal, a recent survey showed that those polled are more excited about the PS5 than they are the Xbox Series X by a nearly 6 to 1 margin.
The Xbox Series X factor
That's not to say the Xbox family has nothing going for it. Microsoft has done an superb job building out Xbox Game Pass with over 100 great titles (and first-party titles on day one) for a low monthly fee, and I anticipate that the $299 Xbox Series S is going to be a super hot seller for those not tied to Sony exclusives. And thanks to Xbox All Access, you can lease a next-gen Xbox complete with Xbox Game Pass starting for just $25 a month.
But with Halo Infinite delayed to 2021 and titles such as Fable 4 and Forza Motorsport 8 still a ways out, the Xbox family lacks a killer exclusive that has got fans buzzing the way that Spider-Man, Demon's Souls and God of War have this week. The Xbox Series X might be the world's most powerful console, but these two machines will likely live and die by their software.
Ultimately, the PS5 and Xbox Series X are both looking like fantastic consoles that will offer immersive 4K gaming, instant load times, rapid framerates and gorgeous ray-tracing effects.
But if you're looking for the best combination of performance, price and killer exclusives, the $399 PS5 Digital Edition is looking like the machine to buy this holiday. And while the PS5 pre-order situation has been an absolute mess since the system went on sale unexpectedly, the fact that the console became sold out everywhere nearly instantly is telling.
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Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.