Sony has apparently learned its lesson from the early life of the PlayStation 3. Accordingly, analysts say, the company is planning to keep the price point of its successor console – the PlayStation 4 – as far under $400 (£257) as it possibly can.
If you tap into the memory banks for a moment and think back to the initial launch of the PlayStation 3 in 2006, the cheapest possible console one could pick up in the United States was the 20GB iteration of the PS3 for a then-whopping $499 (£321). The 60GB PS3 tacked an additional $100 (£64) onto the cost. Together, the consoles were a bit of an outlier against Microsoft's slightly less expensive Xbox 360 ($299 or $399 (£192 or £257)) and Nintendo's Wii ($249 (£160)).
A 2008 article from Business Insider said it all: "Sony's PS3 is dying on the shelves."
While it took a bit of time for Sony's Blu-ray capabilities to capture market interest – and, arguably, the games collection for the PS3 didn't initially have the huge batch of heavyweight exclusives that would attract a flock of gamers to the console – one of the chief reasons for the console's lagging sales over the first years of its existence was its price.
Or, as Eric Krangel put it at the time, "Tell yourself the PS3 has superior graphics if it makes you feel better, but a $400 console with a mediocre game library simply cannot compete against an Xbox 360 priced at $200 in this economy."
So Sony reworked the storage configurations and slashed prices on original PS3 consoles, which put an 80GB PS3 at $399 (£257) in mid-2008. The price dropped to $299 (£192) in 2009 following Sony's announcement of its "slim" variant of the PS3 console. PS3 sales in 2009, however, were up to a total of 13 million units sold, in contrast to the 10.1 million sold in 2008.
As for the PlayStation 4, analyst Arvind Bhatia of Sterne Agee said in an interview with Gamspot that Sony isn't looking to repeat its initial pricing mistakes when the PS4 launches later this year. Even if the company has to lose money on the console, Sony will push to price the PS4 in sub-$400 territory.
Bhatia also notes that Sony appears to be missing a golden opportunity for additional revenue by offering a free iteration of the company's PlayStation Network – revenue that could ultimately help subsidise the cost of the console itself, a fact worth noting before gamers start baulking at the idea of having to pay for access to multiplayer gaming, amongst other features.
While neither Sony nor Microsoft have gone on record with the costs and SKUs of the consoles they plan to release, analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities has already thrown out his predictions based on the devices' material costs: $399 (£257) for the Xbox One and $349 (£225) for the PlayStation 4.