Thursday’s PS5 launch event was quite something, with a dizzying amount of next-gen titles teased, but the elephant in the room is still present and bigger than ever. We don’t know the PS5 price, and Sony’s continued silence on the subject is beginning to get a little worrying.
Amazon got people a little spooked earlier this week with a £599.99 (~$760) listing, only for the company to later explain that it was merely a placeholder and didn’t necessarily reflect the real price. But don’t breathe a sigh of relief too quickly, because another retailer has put up a remarkably similar pre-order price on the hardware.
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Play-Asia’s PlayStation 5 listing, which now has the price removed, briefly showed a pre-order price of $699.99. On the bright side, that’s around 60 bucks cheaper than the last listing, and it is for the disc-based model. So even if it is accurate, the digital-only model should be cheaper.
Importantly, though, that remains a big “if.” It’s very possible that Play Asia fell into exactly the same trap as Amazon, and put a holding price live by mistake. Interestingly, the Dualsense wireless controller still has a price on it, selling for $80 a piece on Play-Asia.
Is a $700 PS5 plausible?
So is $700 a realistic price for the PS5? Annoyingly, you can make a convincing case for both sides of the argument.
The yes camp will tell you to simply do the math on the components we know about: A 825GB SSD could easily clear $150, a Blu-ray drive could come to $100, and the closest thing to the graphics card on PC will set you back around $350. That’s already $600, and we haven’t even talked about the CPU, mainboard, RAM or gamepad.
But – and it’s a big “but” – Sony is all too aware of how important pricing has been in recent console wars. Correlation clearly isn’t the same thing as causation, and in each generation there were other factors at play, but it’s telling that with both the PS2 and PS4 Sony undercut Microsoft by some distance.
With the PS3, the last time Sony ‘lost’ a console war, pricing was the other way around. While the 20GB Xbox 360 emerged at $399.99, a 20GB PS4 cost $499.99. And Microsoft doubly captured the market with a cheaper “Core pack” that sold without a hard disk for $299.
We already strongly suspect that the Xbox Series X will be cheaper than the PS5, and it would be suicide for Sony to make the PS5 that much more expensive than Xbox Series X. For that reason, it would be surprising if Sony launched a new console at $700 – especially in the midst of a global pandemic, mass unemployment and the subsequent recession that economists believe to be a foregone conclusion.
So will the PS5 really launch something that’s 40% pricier than the PS3 was, in far less prosperous circumstances? We’ll just have to wait and see – but expect the mystery surrounding Xbox Series X and PS5 pricing to continue for the time being. Nobody wants to show their hand first, and potentially give the opposition the first win of the next console generation.