Daily Reaction: Let’s Talk About the PS5 Price, Because I Don’t Want to Talk About Sony Censorship

I was stumbling all over trying to find a good topic to talk about for Daily Reaction today. Seriously, coming up with one thing to react to per day is harder than it might seem some days, even when the news is flowing. The most obvious recent news to talk about is the PS5 information, but I covered that in yesterday’s Daily Reaction, so unless I wanted to get super granular into a specific feature, that topic was out. The next most obvious point to talk about was the Wall Street Journal report about Sony’s censorship policies, and I was just about to draft up something or another regarding my own thoughts on them.

I was going to talk about how so much of the rhetoric surrounding Sony’s censorship policies on the PS4 is hearsay and assumptions. I was going to discuss how most people are just putting the blame of censorship on Sony whether it’s confirmed to be them or not. There was a part of my thoughts that was going to wonder why it really matters if you can see cartoon girls mostly naked or not. I was then going to explore how the false equivalences between violent and sexual content do an extreme disservice to how we moderate both. That would have led into discussing how we shouldn’t be lumping violence and sex into the same pool, and pointing out that Sony’s censorship policies seem to only apply to gratuitous sexual content strictly for the sake of being gratuitous sexual content. Here I would have again pointed out that while you may bring up gratuitous violence like Mortal Kombat 11 as a counter argument, violence and sex are not the same thing at all (in fact, aggression and attraction are fundamental opposites), and that sexual deviation is proven to be empowered by sexual content and media, whereas studies linking violence in the same way are practically nonexistent.

I was going to talk about all of that but I won’t, because now I can talk about the PS5 price.

So What About the PS5 Price?

According to Cerny’s comments, the PS5 price will be “appealing in light of the advanced feature set.” I don’t see a dollar amount on that, so I’m going to attempt to break down Sony’s line of thinking here, hopefully getting pretty close to help you budget for the next-generation PlayStation console.

First off, the PS5 that’s not yet called the PS5 is impressive. Seriously. A specialized SDD with basically no loading times. A custom CPU and GPU based on the latest chips on the market. Ray tracing, which has never been a console feature, and has usually been reserved for Hollywood effects and high-end PC processors. People often spend upwards of a $100o to even get close to what Cerny claims (and proved) the PS5 can do. So our first focus is that “advanced feature set.” It’s not going to be cheap to load up a bunch of home consoles with what amounts to the kind of tech that could get a space shuttle into orbit, so immediately there is cause for con(mark)cern(y).

However, Cerny did say that the price would be appealing in light of all of that advanced tech, but what does appealing look like? And who are they trying to appeal to? To tech heads, sure, a $600 price point might seem reasonably appealing based on what the console can do, but Sony wants to sell these to general users and get them into living rooms. As they already proved with the PS3, $600 for a home console is a hard sell for all but the most hardcore of us. Sure I swallowed my pride and got a PS3 on launch, but I didn’t blame anyone who didn’t want to fork over more than half a grand for one.

The PS4 launched at $400, but it’s internals at the time weren’t nearly at the equivalent level that the PS5’s will be when it releases. $400 was also a loss for the PS4, and while it did help to move consoles, I think it’s just a little too much to hope for that the PS5 will launch at the same price. This is a console that Sony wants to revolutionize gaming as we know it, changing some of the usual tropes, and that ambition doesn’t come cheap, not even $400 cheap.

So that leaves $500, as long as Sony doesn’t try to go with a non rounded-off hundred number. $499.99 just has a nice ring to it. It’s just under half of a thousand bucks. It’s still expensive but seems “appealing,” at least where all that advanced tech inside it is concerned. I mean, honestly, we pay more for our cell phones than we do home consoles, though most of us don’t pay it all in one lump sum so it makes the price easier to swallow. Sony also has to consider that they want to sell accessories like the PSVR headset with the console, and making it price prohibitive would impair adoption of those kinds of add ons.

If we—or Sony—have learned anything from history, we know it’s not going to be that expensive. The architects need to balance the features and tech they want to load the system up with, with a price that promotes a healthy adoption rate. Honestly, no matter what kind of space age tech they have packed into it, general consumers will balk at the price if it’s too high. Sony knows this, and if they want to remain on top next generation, they are carefully crafting the PS5 price point with that in mind. Honestly, I think we’ve been spoiled with the PS4 at $400 for so long (including the PS4 Pro launch), and even if the PS5 price ends up only being $500, there will be outcry at the expense. At this point, the PS5 needs to launch at $500 or under in order to have a chance at succeeding.

With that in mind, let’s say that at the earliest, the PS5 release date lands in March 2020 (optimistic, I know, but bear with me). That gives you just 11 months to prepare for it. If you are banking on the $500 price, you’ll want to put away about $50 a month from now until it releases in order to have enough. Add a bit on top of that if you want to have some room to purchase launch games as well. Oh, and you haven’t picked up a 4K TV yet? Might need to really reanalyze how we’re budgeting for next gen. We’ve got time though, and we’ve got a good idea of where the price will land, so start your financial planning now so that you can enjoy the PS5 right on launch day.

Daily Reaction reacts daily to the video game industry. Have suggestions for the column or subjects you’d like us to react to? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to check out previous Daily Reactions for more dives beyond the headlines.