Sony (SNE) and Microsoft (MSFT) are both expected to announce their next-generation gaming consoles at the Electronics Entertainment Expo in June, or even a little before then. While we have seen rumored specs for both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox 720, one thing that has escaped us is a possible price tag. In a research note to investors on Monday, Colin Sebastian of Baird Equity Research suggested that both consoles could retail for between $350 and $400 in the U.S., Games Industry International reported. The analyst revealed that during the Consumer Electronics Show last week he spent time “with a number of companies involved in video game development and distribution,” who informed him that the next-generation consoles will be “largely built from ‘off the shelf’ high-end PC components, along with hybrid physical/digital distribution models, enhanced voice controls and motion sensing, and broad multi-media capabilities.”
Sebastian believes that “a PC-based architecture (Intel chips in the case of Xbox) should have a number of advantages over custom-developed silicon.” In his opinion, there will be less of a “learning curve” for software developers compared to completely new technology, and the cost of production and retail price points should be lower than prior console launches.
Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 in 2005 with a top end price of $399, while Sony released the PlayStation 3 a year later for $499 and $599 respectively.
“It will be easier to build online services around PC chip architecture, including flexible business models (free-to-play, subscriptions) and multi-media (over the top) content offerings,” the analyst added. “For Microsoft, this design will also allow for more integration with Windows 8 and Windows Mobile devices.”
Sebastian expects Sony to launch the PlayStation 4 in October and Microsoft to launch the Xbox 720 in November.