Eight years ago, not only was the PS3’s $600 price tag a major obstacle for consumers but there were also manufacturing shortages of the systems that prevented shoppers the opportunity to even look at the box before putting their wallets back in their pockets. Despite that, just a few months after their launch, Sony delivered multiple hard drive sized systems or bundles that came with movies like Spider-man 3. The system underperformed at retail and Sony had to make the decision to get out of the race or try to salvage this venture by dropping their price. So about twenty months after its release the PS3 saw its first price drop of many.
Sony rebuilt its goodwill amongst gamers over the past year and that has translated into the beginnings of a successful console launch for the PS4. In addition to a lower launch price tag, Sony focused their inventory into one territory at a time. The US will get the bulk of the output of game systems right now and when PS4 launches in other territories, domestic numbers might see a slight decrease in inventory. A great strategy to help ensure that everyone worldwide who wants a PS4 at launch has the opportunity to purchase one, but maybe not for the 2 million people Gamestop claims are still waiting to get their orders filled.
The Playstation 4, which launched in the US on November 15, has now reportedly sold over a million units. What makes this number even more unprecedented is that the system has only launched in the US. Europe and other markets still have to wait a bit for Sony to hit their shores. Eight years ago when the PS3 and Xbox 360 launched those systems scratched a number less than 500,000 in their first weekend. After eight years a new generation of consoles is upon us; but what does, an expanded gaming audience, manufacturing lessons, and outrageous price tags mean for those who want to wait for a price drop? Don’t count on it for Christmas 2014.
So when will gamers see a PS4 price drop? Well that depends on two factors; Sony’s lead in the console race and new games. Amazon has reported record pre-sales for the Xbox One, what that will culminate into remains to be seen this week when XB1 is available to the public. But we know the Xbox One has a $499 price tag at launch, which is $100 more than the PS4. If this factor doesn’t hurt Xbox One sales, then there’s no reason for Microsoft to make the first move in price drop. But if it does, the Xbox One would have to drop price by more than $100 to steal thunder from Sony and make them have to drop their price.
However, The Xbox One would most likely see the first price drop because they have the most wiggle room with the Kinect camera. Making an XB1 sku that doesn’t include the camera could already cut the consumer price by the initial hundred-dollar price difference, but it remains to be seen if Microsoft is willing to budge on that. Price drops also depend on how urgently Sony and Microsoft need to get these next-gen systems to an audience that goes beyond the hardcore gamer. While we know TitanFall and Infamous: Second Son are on the way, there isn’t much else as far as next-gen exclusives go, just yet. But we know multiple 3rd party studios are all working on next-gen games and when they’re ready for players, Sony and Microsoft will have to find a way for gamers to play these or risk developers going to mobile platforms for simplicity and savings on overhead production cost.
If both these consoles are a launch success and neither company needs to drop price based on a reaction to their competitor; gamers may not see a price drop till around March of 2015. At that point the launch window will have long ended and both companies will get a better idea of what their long-term success will look like. Meaning they can now drop prices to open up the field and go after the early resistors.
Should you wait to buy your Xbox One or PS4? If you don’t call yourself a gamer, then yes you absolutely can wait. Both systems have so much potential for their unique experiences but it will take some time for that plateau to be reached. If you are a gamer, then you’re already at the Coinstar and dropping hints to your family for gift cards. These systems have shown how cool next-gen gaming could be and being the first on your block isn’t a bad thing.