Sony and Microsoft have yet to reveal PS5 or Xbox Series X pricing, and consumers are getting worried. But this waiting game trend isn't new for the industry--Nintendo's been doing it for the last three generations of consoles.
Everyone wants to know how much the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will cost. It's September already, two months before each console should launch, and we still don't know pricing. The info relay was scattered with E3's cancellation and COVID-19 temporarily disrupting hardware production.
This small two-month window between pricing and availability is historic for both Microsoft and Sony, who typically have 4-5 month spans between price/launch date announcements and release. The shortest for both is the Xbox 360, whose pricing/availability was announced in August 2005 and subsequently released in November 2005.
This trend isn't new for the industry, however. Nintendo has been announcing pricing just 2 months ahead of a console launch for the past three generations: First with the Wii in 2006, then the Wii U in 2012, and finally the Switch in 2017.
So far we've only been able to guess next-gen console pricing.
Past reports say the PlayStation 5's memory and SSD flash alone costs $250 to manufacture, and Microsoft has warned consumers that next-gen console's specialized 7nm SoC is expensive to make due to low yields and the complexity of the 7nm Enhanced fabrication process.
Based on the hardware involved, it seems we're looking at a minimum $499 price tag. Speculation says that Sony and Microsoft are engaged in a game of chicken and no one wants to blink first, not even Microsoft who doesn't necessarily care about console hardware sales.
Sony in particular can't afford to go the high MSRP route again.
The PlayStation 3's huge $599 MSRP cost Sony the 6th generation lead, and Microsoft's subsequent blunder with the Xbox One's messaging and higher $499 price gave Sony and easy win for the 7th generation. Microsoft is less concerned about winning the 8th console generation insofar as sales as it's pivoted to a service-first company.
Sony, on the other hand, routinely generates over 20% of its revenues from the PlayStation ecosystem, compared with the ~10% that Xbox generates for Microsoft.
PlayStation made 24% of Sony's FY2019 earnings, or $18.1 billion. Xbox made 9% ($11.57 billion) of Microsoft's total yearly earnings ($125.843 billion) in FY2020.
We'll likely hear official pricing sometime this month...but then again, this year has been historic for the games industry due to the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 has been a double-edged sword for the games industry: It's sparked sales to massive new highs for Sony, who reported the best Q1 earnings in video game history with $1 billion in revenues, but it's also affected development thanks to forced work-from-home measures.
As of right now both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are due out Holiday 2020. No pricing has been revealed. Check below for spec comparisons of the two next-gen consoles: