Unnecessary silence from Sony and Microsoft on price for next-gen consoles is the true embodiment of anti-consumer
At the end of June, right here on Dash Gamer, I signed off my last opinion piece with a call for both Microsoft and Sony to address the elephant in the room. Of course, I was talking about price of their respective next-generation consoles. At the beginning of September, we’re no closer to having a firm understanding than we were back in June. If both companies are to be believed in their claims of launching at the end of 2020 – they’re sure cutting it close with details about how much of a hole it will leave in the pockets of gamers.
Some might say too close, and some could be forgiven for feeling that it matters more than either Microsoft or Sony realize. Much has already been said when it comes to this topic so there is probably little to add of significance here, but I also know one thing, I’m not the only one starting to lose patience and buy out of the ‘pro-consumer’ mantra that both companies keep banging on about.
The daily occurrence for anyone interested in the details is now that of hastily checking online to see if either the PS5 or Xbox Series X has decided to drop a release date, and most importantly, how much it will cost gamers.
There has been an apparent game of chicken at play between Microsoft and Sony for a long time in 2020, it doesn’t take a genius to assume that it’s highly likely that once one company drops these all-important details, the other will quickly follow suit. Of course, the COVID pandemic has played a big part in both companies likely delaying these announcements as they’ve, like the rest of us, been in a constant state of wait and see, but the game of chicken around price and date has gone on for far too long.
Sooner or later, one of these companies is going to have to pull the trigger and say something, to show a bit of respect to the consumer if nothing else. If both consoles are to be on store shelves in a mere handful of weeks from now, gamers deserve to have more of a concrete idea about what they’re looking at spending, but it goes deeper than that.
There has been a lot of talk about pro-consumer vs anti-consumer practices on the part of both Microsoft and Sony in the lead up to the launch of PS5 and Xbox Series X. With the success of GamePass, and the willingness to put all major first-party titles on that service day and date, Xbox has been hailed as the big winner in this race as of late. Not so much on the PlayStation side, where their approach seems to be that of putting a clear distinction between the PS4 and PS5 with a clear mantra of phasing out the old and convincing consumers about the new.
But who could blame Sony for such an approach? Of course, their library of first-party titles is stronger than its ever been, making the incentive for gamers that are all aboard the PlayStation train to jump off now a supremely difficult task. There is no doubt that both the PS5 and Xbox Series X will be good consoles, and whilst not forgetting that diskless versions of both will also be available, price now matters big time in the next steps for both companies, but the how and when is another key aspect to this conversation.
On the PlayStation side, gamers can go and register their interest to be what Sony calls “the first to preorder a PS5 console” via a trip to the official PlayStation website. Like all major console launches, stock availability will be extremely limited, but the risk both Sony and Microsoft are flying directly in the face of is shutting out a large portion of their player base by sticking with the current approach.
It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that launches are restricted to certain territories in the first instance, purely to keep up with expected demand if nothing else. PlayStation did a similar thing back in 2006/2007 when they launched the PS3 in what is more likely to be a similar price point to the PS5 that many dare to admit. Whatever the way it’s done, trying to justify the radio silence about price and release date of both PS5 and Xbox Series X is becoming a harder and harder exercise. If rumors are to be true and both consoles launch in November, that’s somewhere in the ballpark of two months from now, and we still don’t know the price.
It’s all very similar to how Apple operates with its year on year iPhone releases. There is an official announcement about the price and release date, and consumers can order shortly thereafter. The same may very well happen with these consoles, but you’d hope that gamers hoping to pre-order once able have the cash on hand already, because they’ll have to be in mighty quick. Right now, perhaps understandably so, maintaining radio silence isn’t pro-consumer, it’s keeping everyone in the dark. That’s about as anti-consumer as it gets.