Sony and Microsoft are approaching next-gen in two markedly different ways. PlayStation 5 will launch with two SKUs, a disc version and a disc-less digital edition. Both PS5s feature the same specs aside from the disc drive. Xbox Series S, on the other hand, is a low-spec iteration of its more powerful brother–Xbox Series X. While Sony considered a Series S-style device, the manufacturer ultimately decided against it. Apparently, such an endeavor would have proven too “problematic.”
Sony Interactive Entertainment’s CEO and President Jim Ryan noted as much in an interview with AV Watch, translated by Video Games Chronicle. According to VGC, the PlayStation executive first broached the topic by making known his respect for “every competitor’s decision and their philosophies.” Still, Sony remains confident in its own next-gen strategy.
He then went on to claim “reduced spec” consoles don’t historically perform well on the market.
One thing that can be said is that if you look at the history of the game business, creating a special low priced, reduced spec console is something that has not had great results in the past. We’ve considered that option and seen other executives who have attempted this discover how problematic it is.
Sony’s research, Ryan continued, indicates that gamers who buy consoles are usually interested in “using it for four, five, six or even seven years.” Essentially, players want to believe they’re investing in a “future-proofed” product that won’t become outdated in a span of a few short years.
It’s unclear what other reduced-spec consoles Ryan is referring to here, however. Even looking at Sony’s own line of products, the standard PS4 slim continues to outsell the PS4 Pro despite its lower specs, and the Nintendo Switch, arguably the weakest of the modern-gen consoles, is outselling everyone else.
Ryan made note of something similar in another recent interview, telling GamesIndustry.biz that players should rest assured that they’re purchasing a “true next-generation console.” Time will tell which strategy works best in the end.
PlayStation 5 hits store shelves this fall on November 12th. The next-gen console’s disc version runs $499.99, while the digital edition costs $399.99.