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Microsoft’s aggressive Xbox Series S pricing puts Sony at a disadvantage

Published Sep 8th, 2020 8:06PM EDT
Xbox Series S vs. PS5 Digital Edition
Image: Microsoft

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  • Microsoft has announced that the Xbox Series S will launch on November 10th for $299.
  • The Xbox Series S isn’t quite as powerful as the Xbox Series X and lacks a disc drive, but it will still be able to play all of the next-gen games in the years to come.
  • Sony has also announced a PS5 Digital Edition, but based on previous leaks about the PS5’s price, it seems unlikely that Sony will be able to match Microsoft at $299.

The Xbox Series S was among the worst kept secrets of the year, but that didn’t make its price point reveal any less shocking. As rumors had suggested ahead of Microsoft’s official confirmation, the Xbox Series S will cost $299 when it launches on November 10th. That’s $200 cheaper than the Xbox One was at launch, and $100 less than the PS4’s initial price. Microsoft obviously learned a lesson after getting crushed by Sony for the last seven years, but now that Xbox has finally made its move, how will PlayStation respond? Can Sony match Microsoft’s low price?

Many factors contribute to the success or failure of a game console, and it’s tough to ever pinpoint just one, but there is little doubt that the Xbox One’s $499 price tag had an impact on sales. Microsoft capitalized on Sony’s blunders in 2006 when the PS3 launched at a whopping $599, and Sony flipped the script in 2013 with its PS4, undercutting the Xbox One by $100. Microsoft wasn’t going to be caught off guard two generations in a row.

As we learned on Tuesday, the Xbox Series S is less powerful than the Xbox Series X and lacks a disc drive, but is still capable of playing all of the same upcoming next-generation video games. Unless you just can’t live without 4K resolution or physical copies of games, the Series S appears to offer everything the Series X offers, but at a fraction of the price. The same site that spoiled the Series S says the Series X will cost $499, which means you’ll save $200 and can still play every game that comes out for the next seven years. That’s not a bad deal.

Now, all eyes are on Sony. Much like Microsoft, Sony has announced two versions of its next-gen console: the PS5 and the PS5 Digital Edition. The only noteworthy difference between the two versions is that the Digital Edition, as its name suggests, lacks a disc drive. Other than that, the specifications are identical, which means it’s highly unlikely — if not totally impossible — for Sony to knock hundreds of dollars off the price to match the Series S.

Based on all of the leaks and rumors and reports that have surfaced over the last several months, the PS5 will cost at least $499. If that’s true, the Digital Edition will certainly be in the same ballpark. $450 seems reasonable. $400 would be truly surprising. Whatever the case, there’s simply no way for Sony to price a full-featured PS5 without a disc drive at $300 without taking a giant loss. Microsoft scaled back the hardware to reach such a competitive price, but unless Sony has a monumental surprise in store, the Digital Edition doesn’t accomplish the same goal.

Sony “won” the previous console generation running away, moving 110 million PS4s in seven years and beating out the Wii, Xbox 360, and PS1 on the list of best-selling consoles. Microsoft knew that it was going to have to make an aggressive play to combat Sony’s lead, and the Xbox Series S is as aggressive as it comes. Of course, Microsoft still has plenty of other questions to answer and concerns to address, such as the fact that Halo Infinite, the one and only major first-party title planned for the Xbox Series X|S launch window, has now been delayed.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.