console war

PS5 price leak indicates a troubling trend with next-gen consoles

Gamers, prepare your wallets.

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Sony has yet to confirm how much the PlayStation 5 will cost despite revealing most of the console’s specs and features already, but a Canadian retailer already taking pre-orders may have leaked the gaming system’s launch price. If true, the cost might seem exciting to gamers at first glance, but it could also be indicative of a glaring problem we might see with both next-gen consoles.

Tech publication Notebookcheck reported Monday that Play N Trade Vancouver Island began letting customers reserve PS5s Monday for $559 Canadian dollars. Based on current conversation rates, that works out to approximately $395 USD. This could mean Sony's upcoming console might be even cheaper than the PS4’s $399 launch price, but assuming this leak is accurate, it's also possible this means the price in the U.S will also be $399. The company has yet to reveal an official price, so these deposits could be subject to change as the console’s Holiday 2020 release.

This kind of bargain price tag for the PS5 will probably come as a relief to gamers who heard the console might be substantially more expensive than the PS4 at launch thanks to a scarcity of necessary parts. But such an affordable price might be a troubling sign that players will be required to shell out extra cash for additional features if they want to make the most of their PS5. Specifically, gamers might have to pay a premium for extra storage on Sony's new console.

The PS5's expandable storage feature could cost gamers

The PS5 was revealed to come with a 825 GB solid-state drive, which consumers can expand by buying external SSDs. Sony reassured gamers that they’ll eventually be able to upgrade their PS5 storage with off-the-shelf drives that have been certified compatible with the PS5.

That means PS5 players will have more options to expand their console’s storage compared to the Xbox Series X, which will require proprietary cards. However, even run-of-the-mill 1 TB SSDs can cost between $100 to $200 on Amazon.

While some consumers won’t need to make use of the PS5’s expandable storage capability, it’ll essentially be a requirement for people with sizable game libraries. Online games like Call of Duty: Warzone weigh in between 80 to 100 GB and massive open-world games like Red Dead Redemption 2 clock in at 100 GB, which would already be an eighth of the PS5’s total storage for the PS4 versions. It's possible that PS5 versions could be even larger. Around 93 GB of the standard PS4's 500 GB drive is taken up by the console's operating system, and we can safely assume the PS5's might be even larger. Also factor in backward compatibility with all PS4 digital purchases, and that SSD is looking smaller and smaller.

Players will either need to continuously uninstall their old games to play new games or pick up an external SSD which would raise the cost of their PS5 by $100 or $200. These extra costs would take the PS5’s final price to $400 to $500 if Play N Trade’s pre-order price is accurate. If that $399 price tag pans out, then it'll presumably lead to increased sales for the console in the short-term but frustrate gamers in the long term.

Previously, a report published by Bloomberg revealed that manufacturing each PS5 costs Sony around $450. The company could try to make up for selling the console at a loss by offering gamers smaller SSD in the console to cut down costs for both the company and the consumer.

In short, Sony's next-gen console might be a bargain up-front but be an expensive console to own over time. The same could also be said for the Xbox Series X based on what Microsoft has revealed about memory expansion cards.

No matter which console gamers choose, they'll probably have to spend a lot more than that initial price tag.

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