The PS5 will launch on November 12, 2020 at $499.99 and the Digital PS5 will launch at $399.99. Pre-orders are live at certain retailers as of this writing (this has been sitting on my desktop for a few days). Here is the launch line-up from Sony:
- Astro’s Playroom (Japan Studio) – pre-installed on PS5
- Demon’s Souls (Bluepoint Games / Japan Studio) – US$69.99/¥7,900/€79.99 (RRP)
- Destruction All Stars (Lucid Games / XDEV) – US$69.99/¥7,900/€79.99 (RRP)
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Insomniac Games) – US$49.99/¥5,900/€59.99 (RRP)
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Mile Morales Ultimate Edition (Insomniac Games) – US$69.99/¥7,900/€79.99 (RRP)
- Sackboy A Big Adventure (Sumo Digital / XDEV) – US$59.99/¥6,900/€69.99 (RRP)
Now with that sigh out of the way and it being replaced by the stress of waiting to see how preorders shake out, I want to explore the date and pricing options, because this generation is spicy.
The fact that the launch day being just two days after the Xbox Series X and S is a hoot. I believe this is the closest PlayStation and Xbox have launched new hardware to one another and it makes for an expensive week for the hardcore consumer.
As for the launch games, I am glad that Spider-Man is day one. I was surprised to see Demon’s Souls also make day one, but am stoked for my friends that love the Souls games. I can see myself snagging Sackboy since I’ll be wrapped up in the new console hype, but we shall see.
The pricing is far more intriguing. Sony hit the right price point by match Xbox at $500 for both PS5 Disc-Based and Series X. The real juicy bits come from the disc-less PS5 (aka Digital PS5) and the Xbox Series S. The digital PS5 is identical to the PS5, minus the disc drive (hence the name), but it comes in at $100 less. This allows Sony to technically undercut Xbox’s high-end offering. Sony may be eating the loss upfront, but over the course of the digital PS5, they will make more money since more, if not all sales, will go through their own store, earning them a larger cut.
The Xbox Series S on the other hand comes in at a cool $300, but has performance setbacks, mainly limiting its visuals to 1440p and Xbox One S levels of backward compatibility. There is a different amount of RAM and both a slightly less powerful CPU and GPU. Plays the same games, but not as well and for who knows how long. It’s like Xbox is launching a “phat” first gen console and the slim at the same time.
The other piece to the financial puzzle is Xbox’s installment plans (dubbed “Xbox All Access”) for the new consoles. For $25/month for the Series S and $35/month for the Series X, consumers can get the the latest console plus Game Pass, which includes all Xbox first party games and plenty of third party options. There is no up front cost and 0% APR. In two years, the console is theirs and they can chose whether or not to keep the Game Pass subscription, currently $15/month.
On store shelves, this makes for an unprecedented launch. Next gen consoles have a range of $200 from day one. Right out of the gate, consumers have four options with varying features. Not to mention the range in game prices. 4K is practically standard in all TVs these days. I’m not sure how the adoption rate compares to the jump from standard definition CRT televisions to flat-panel HDTVs, but I feel like 4K is more widely common since television prices can be dirt cheap.
Even if consumers have a 4K capable TV, do they care if their TV shows, movies, and games are in 4K? I’m not sure, millions were content with using a Wii for Netflix for years. If that’s how the mass market feels about 4K gaming, I can easily see the Series S dominating average consumer demand. On the flip-flop, Xbox actively advertises Game Pass, which now comes with xCloud. Over the next couple years, I imagine xCloud will be widely available on TVs, phones, etc. So will the average consumer simply opt for the monthly subscription service and just stream their Xbox games? Will this push people toward buying a PS5 as their dedicated gaming hardware?
The price range and slew of choices for consumers going into this console generation is unprecedented. Holiday sales may give a quick glimpse of longer term sales/market share, but I imagine supply will be low and demand high, just like it usually is for hot, new consoles.