• The prices and release dates are the biggest mysteries left for the PS5 and Xbox Series X, now that the PlayStation 5 design has been unveiled.
  • Sony and Microsoft are expected to announce availability details in the coming months, but both consoles are expected to cost more than their predecessors.
  • The new Xbox will have a considerable advantage over the PS5, a subscription program that will make the price tag easier to digest.

We finally know the designs of both 2020 consoles, as Sony a few weeks ago unveiled the PS5 versions it’ll sell in stores this fall. We’re in the final stages of this Microsoft vs. Sony marketing dance ahead of the console’s launch. Both companies will soon unveil the exact availability details for their new devices. We’ll get real launch and preorder dates, and the actual price tags of both gaming rigs.

We’ve always suspected that the PS5 and Xbox Series X will be more expensive than their predecessors. There’s just no way for either company to deliver these gaming computers for the same price as the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X. But then the novel coronavirus pandemic happened, which brought economic hardship to millions of people. The cost of the two consoles will probably be the most important factor for buyers this year, and it so happens that Microsoft has an Xbox Series X trick the PS5 should totally steal.

Recent reports have claimed that Microsoft might be looking to beat Sony on price with two separate plans. One of them involves undercutting Sony’s price. The Series X could be more affordable than the regular PS5. Sony already responded to that potential problem by announcing the PS5 Digital Edition, a PS5 version without a Blu-ray drive that will be cheaper than the full PS5 model. But Microsoft reportedly has a response in the works for that as well, an even more affordable Series S console. The cheaper Xbox could cost as low as $200, which would be a steal for a device that’s rumored to be more powerful than the Xbox One X.

But Microsoft has an even better tool at its disposal for making the Series X seem more affordable, and that’s the Xbox All Access program. Microsoft already announced plans to make it easy for existing subscribers who bought an Xbox last year to upgrade to the Series X in 2020. On top of that, Microsoft will sell the new Xbox under the Xbox All Access subscription as well.

Xbox All Access gets you a payment program for the hardware, as well as Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold access. Phil Spencer said in an interview that the subscription plan will include the new console.

“Xbox All Access is going to be critical to both our launch for Xbox Series X as well as just the overall generation,” Spencer told Seth Schiesel during a Game Lab Live keynote this week (via Games Industry).

“The response that we’ve seen where we’ve tested All Access has been great, but as you said, it’s been limited in terms of the market,” the exec added. “So you’re going to see a much broader market and retailer support for All Access. And as you said, it matches a model customers use for many other devices they buy. And if you have services attached to those devices that people love, it just becomes an easier way to bring a great product to customers.”

Spencer said in a previous interview that Microsoft is aware of the impact of the pandemic and that some people may not upgrade to the Series X this year. He said the company is going to focus on providing gamers a great experience rather than maximizing sales.

“We should also understand the global economic situation we’re going to see this year,” Spencer told Schiesel. “We’re seeing it today. And I think having more pricing options for consumers is frankly just a thoughtful thing for us as industry to think about.”

Buying Xbox on All Access plans might help Microsoft move more Series X units this year. And that could make a real difference. Sony may not have needed a similar subscription plan for the PlayStation before, certainly not before the coronavirus pandemic. But the PS5 could certainly benefit from a similar proposition, which would make it a lot easier for gamers to upgrade their hardware. Let’s not forget that at some point last year, we heard that Sony will be looking to convince as many people to upgrade to the PS5 as fast as possible. That’s where a version of Microsoft’s All Access could come in handy.

Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he's not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.