Sony's chief financial officer, Hiroki Totoki, has suggested in the company's recent third quarter earnings call that the PlayStation 5 price has yet to be finalised, appearing to shoot down recent leaks that said a $499 / £449 cost was locked in.
Speaking to investors, Totoki stated that the Japanese company's focus was on ensuring a "smooth transition" for gamers from the PS4 to the PS5 in terms of install base, with the outgoing PlayStation 4 console seeing 108.9 million units shipped to date.
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As such, Totoki said that before a PS5 price can be set, Sony need to determine a few things, including:
"First, we must absolutely control the labour cost, the personnel cost, it must be controlled. And the initial ramp up, how much can we prepare initially, we will work on the production and the sales and we will have to prepare the right volume as we launch this."
Totoki notes that there is a problem in determining this right now, though:
"What is not very clear or visible is because we are competing in the space [against rivals such as the Xbox Series X], so it’s very difficult to discuss anything about the price at this point of time, and depending upon the price level, we may have to determine the promotion that we are going to deploy and how much costs we are prepared to pay."
And because of these unknown factors, Totoki concludes that pricing the PlayStation 5 will likely be a balancing act:
"So it’s a question of balance, and because it’s a balancing act it’s very difficult to say anything concrete at this point of time, but when I said smooth transition, we mean that we will definitely choose the optimal approach and that we will try to have the best balance so that we will be profitable in the life, during the life of this product.”
To us here at T3, these comments can be read in two ways: firstly that Sony is very much waiting until there is more clarity in the market (financial and production), as well as in its rivals plans, before it commits to a price point on the PS5. And, secondly, that Totoki is keeping his cards very close to his chest, and poker facing on the console's cost, to keep a few known unknowns for Sony's benefit.
After all, for all we know the PlayStation 5 price could be $499 / £449, and the leak could have accurately called its cost a year in advance of launch. And in speaking like this, Totoki is aiming to re-introduce doubt into Sony's competitors' minds.
Because, as Totoki states, the one thing Sony really has to nail with the PS5 launch is the transitioning of that massive, generation-winning install base. To date, Sony has sold twice as many PS4 consoles than Microsoft has sold Xbox One consoles (opens in new tab), and that has left them in a very dominant position going into the next generation.
The thing is, though, as history has shown us (just look at the fall Sony had from PS2 supremacy to PS3 firmly drubbed by Xbox 360), just because you were successful in one generation doesn't mean you will be in the next. Sony is right to focus on protecting that install base, and that is something that it can in-part do by pricing the PS5 correctly. As such, it does actually make sense for Sony to essentially play a game of wait and see for now...
We can't wait to clap our eyes on the PlayStation 5 console, and even more so to get our hands on the hot new gaming hardware. Hopefully the rumours of a late February reveal followed by a March pre-order date prove accurate, even if the final pricing ends up only dropping later in the year.
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