E3 2013 – Playing Chicken: Console Pricing Predictions

DOLLAR SIGNS

 

With E3 now upon us, video game consumers have fixed their gaze on the future of the console industry.  Every year the number of early adopters – those that buy-in on the launch lineup – gets bigger and bigger.  This makes the next several months critical for those on the fence, even if it’s simply a matter of which console they get first. 

 

NINTENDO

wiiu21-jpg

NORMAL BUNDLE:

8 GB Wii U

$200

($100 price cut)

PREMIUM BUNDLE:

32 GB Wii U

$250

($100 price cut)

These will be the only figures to actually be uttered at E3.  Nintendo needs this, bad.  Real bad.  A simple $50 won’t do either, they must go all in with a $200 Wii U model or risk losing countless folks on the fence who will simply snatch up another console.  It’s possible that the cheaper, contract subsidized Xbox could ring in at as little as $250.  They can’t afford to have their 8GB model at the same price.

Just for good measure, they’ll probably announce new colors, or maybe a cute pair of bunny ears you can rest on your console.  Game themed pad-plates aren’t far off either.

 

MICROSOFT

Xbox-One-635

PROJECTED PRICE #1:

500GB Xbox One

$449 w/ 1-Month Xbox Live Free

($435 value)

PROJECTED PRICE/PACKAGE #2:

500GB Xbox One

$299 w/ 2-Year Xbox Live Contract at $15 a month

($660 value)

There’s heavy speculation that the Xbox One will roll out with the option to cut into the steep price tag with a contract.  Like cellphones, expect the contract period to be 2 years (the current 360 deal is 2 years as well).

There are two wild cards:  1) Could they be silly enough to shake up the Gold/Silver formula, or up the cost for a Gold membership?  Unlikely, if they have a head on their shoulders. 2) Will said bundle eschew the obvious Xbox Live in favor of a cable contract? Farfetched considering the complications that would create for people living in disparate parts of the country, most notably rural areas.

But the Achilles heel for Microsoft is the Kinect: it’s expensive to produce, it commands extra R&D $$$, and it’s necessary for your Xbox to work.  Had they only kept in the processor that was stripped from the original Kinect to cut costs they might have worked it into their next-gen schemes with a simple firmware update.  But again, myopia prevails.

Microsoft has been mum on their new peripheral, but if the original retailed at $150 (steeply discounted to move units) you can imagine how much the Kinect 2 is putting them back.  Give the Kinect 2 credit for somehow rendering the original even more useless?

 

SONY

pad with logo-580-75

PROJECTED PRICE #1:

500 GB PS4

$400

(no nonsense here)

PROJECTED PRICE #2:

1TB PS4

$500 w/ 1-Year PS Plus Free

($440 value)

Sony has hinted at multiple PS4 SKU’s, hinting that the HDD would be the primary differentiating factor.  Maybe a 1TB drive is a little generous – let’s remember consoles are forever five years behind PC’s.  But if Sony wants to push day-1 downloadable games AND hold true to their live streaming/record and share aspirations they’d be wise to pack in serious space.

But something else must set the two apart.  With Microsoft further shifting the One’s center of gravity to Xbox Live and the features entailed, anticipate Sony to counter with PS Plus.  Such a move would dovetail perfectly with their strategy of re-envisioning the Vita as THE steward of Indie games.  It also folds in nicely with Harai’s frequent reminders that the Playstation stands for gaming, not watching Netflix or football.

Either way, they will try and undercut Microsoft’s face value for the comparable Xbox One by at least $50.

 

I give it a 50/50 that anyone will name a price at E3.  Nobody likes being reminded of how much high ticket tech items are, even if the purchase is enthusiastic.  E3 is about games, so expect the talking heads for the Big Three to use that as an excuse not to bring it up.

No news is good news.

Author: Wu

2 Comments

  1. well this all turned out to be way off, almost none of it is right. Nobody went for multiple packages either.

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  2. It’s true, these predictions turned out to be far more cynical in many ways. But in certain respects far more optimistic – I really did think that both Sony and Microsoft would pack in free Live/PSN service.

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