PS5 or Xbox Series X – which will be more expensive?
The PS5 and Xbox Series X – the follow up consoles to the PS4 and Xbox One, respectively – are now mere months away, but we’re still in the dark about many aspects of both consoles. We so far have no release date for either and, in the case of the PS5, we still have no idea what it’ll even look like, though we have had a peek at the radically re-imagined DualSense controller. Naturally, as a price comparison website, one of the questions we’re fielding most frequently about these upcoming consoles is how much they’re likely to cost. Here, we’re going to break down the key factors that are likely to make the major differences.
Cost of production
So far, the confirmed specs for the two consoles point to some pretty significant costs. As expected, both represent a jump in terms of power from their predecessors, which will inevitable entail an increase in price. However, the most significant move is in both consoles’ memory. Having relied on traditional hard drives for past consoles, both Sony and Microsoft are moving to SSDs for their new machines. This is great news for gamers, as SSDs are generally much faster to access and work with – meaning many cumbersome loading times will be eliminated entirely. The downside, though, is that SSDs are far more expensive than hard drives are.
So far, the Xbox Series X has been confirmed to have a built-in 1TB SSD, while a further 1TB can be accessed via a special memory card. The PS5, meanwhile, is going to come with an 825GB SSD – but one that is crucially almost twice as fast as the Xbox Series X’s. The PS5 will also have the option to expand the memory.
With all this in mind, it’s difficult to truly state categorically which console will cost more to make – in fact, they’re likely to cost something similar.
It’s impossible to underestimate just how important pricing is to a console’s success. Throughout gaming history, numerous consoles have been effectively dead on arrival thanks to pricing that was simply too high. Without that initial launch momentum, no amount of discounting could help them recover. While it’s not fair to use this description for the Xbox One, the console’s high launch price of $499, $100 than the PS4, was a major reason that Sony captured the early lead, a lead which they only extended over the next months and years. With hindsight, Microsoft’s decision to insist on bundling the expensive Kinect peripheral with the Xbox One was an absolutely disastrous one, demonstrated by the fact that by the time the One S launched, they didn’t even include a port to connect the Kinect.
Both the Xbox Series X and PS5 are likely to launch at some of the highest prices we’ve ever seen for home consoles. Recent analysis on the PS5’s build suggests that Sony were making around $20 profit on each PS4 they sold at launch, not including distribution and marketing costs, with the console costing around $380 to produce. The PS5 is expected to cost Sony at least $470, a huge jump. The Xbox Series X, meanwhile, is expected at a similar, if not slightly higher cost.
This generation’s performance
There’s no beating around the bush – for the current generation of consoles, Sony has soundly beaten Microsoft. The Xbox One never really recovered from the costly decision to launch with the Kinect, and by the time the mid-generation revisions launched, there was an inarguable gap in the exclusive games offered on the consoles. Microsoft have continue to flounder in this department somewhat, with games such as Crackdown 3 launching to relatively poor critical receptions, while the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn, Spider-Man and God of War have had critics seriously asking if the PS4 can be ranked among the very best consoles of all times.
Towards the end of the Xbox’s life, we’ve gotten glimpses of what Microsoft plans to do to bridge the gap. The Xbox One S All-Digital was a bold step towards a budget console that had sold solidly, while initiatives such as Game Pass have done an awful lot to help rope more gamers in with fantastic deals.
Sony, it’s fair to say, haven’t been quite so forthcoming. Both PS4 models remain more expensive than their Xbox equivalents, and Sony has attracted criticism multiple times for a perceived lack of willingness to open themselves up to player-friendly initiatives, such as cross-play, which Microsoft and Nintendo have embraced. Then again, Sony will point to their huge success with the PS4 and ask why they should do anything different.
Microsoft remain firmly committed to the Xbox ecoystem, and the onus is on them this generation to perform. They’re likely to be more aggressive when it comes to the launch.
Both consoles are fairly evenly matched in terms of specs and production costs, with the Xbox Series X coming in perhaps a little bit higher. That being said, Microsoft arguably have the edge when it comes to marketing clout, meaning the two consoles are fairly evenly matched in terms of what they’ll cost their two manufacturers.
However, we have a sneaking suspicion that the Xbox Series X may end up undercutting the PS5. It won’t be by much, but it could well result in Microsoft trading a loss on each console they sell in order to get more people on board. Microsoft have the edge on Sony in terms of company size, and are more likely to be willing to make such a trade. Add in the performance of the Xbox One compared to the PS5, and we anticipate the the Xbox Series X will be cheaper than the PS5.