XBOX Series X vs. Playstation 5: Who Will Win?
A leak suggested that Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X has the same horsepower
- Date: February 17, 2020
XBOX Series X vs. Playstation 5: Who will win?
In the past few days, we’ve been talking about the price of the next-gen consoles. That’s thanks to a report in Bloomberg that said Sony has been struggling to get its build price for the PlayStation 5 below $450, indicating something like a $500 for either a break-even price or a moderate loss, depending on extra costs. People suspect that the Xbox Series X is slightly higher than that, but not by much, again suggesting that we might see both of these consoles come out at the $500 price point unless one company decides to do something drastic in either direction. The thing about all this talk, however, is that we’re focused on two consoles: the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. What if there’s a third? And no, not the Switch.
Ever since we heard the very first rumors about Microsoft’s next-gen “Project Scarlett”, they came with an interesting wrinkle. Microsoft, these rumors said, was not working on one next-gen console, but two: a big, fancy machine that we now know is called the Xbox Series X, and a smaller, more affordable machine known as “Lockhart”. Microsoft hasn’t said one official word about this machine yet, but the last we heard was that it was still happening, at least according to a report from Kotaku’s Jason Schreier in December.
There are still a ton of questions about this thing. Sure, it will be less powerful, but how much less powerful? Cheaper, of course, but how much? Will it come out at the same time as Series X, or the next holiday season? This is not something that any company has done before—the closest analog would be the Wii U or Xbox 360, which launched with “premium” versions. This would be something else entirely.
Let’s say it comes out at $299, putting it right in line with the Switch. $199 isn’t impossible either, particularly if Microsoft is willing to take a loss in favor of subscription revenue. That would be a significant discount compared to a $500 “premium” console, and an attractive option for holiday shoppers looking to stretch their budgets. A big reason we need so much power in new consoles is to chase 4K resolution, and it’s easy to make the argument that 4K isn’t really all that necessary.
Honestly, I can see arguments for this thing that go both ways. On the one hand, a new, next-gen console is a major investment, and it makes sense to give people a lower price point while still giving them something “new”. Lots of people wait until prices come down later in the generation before making the plunge, and this stands to scoop up some of those consumers earlier, particularly since backwards compatibility sidesteps concerns about small libraries. It would make an ideal entry point for both xCloud and Game Pass, both of which are central to Microsoft’s strategy in the future. It would mean that you now have three entry points into Microsoft’s subscription ecosystem: Series X, Lockhart, and PC.
On the other hand, the entire console market is a premium market at this point, and anyone who’s that interested in new hardware right at the outset of a generation is more likely the kind of consumer willing to plunk down extra money. Most people likely to buy brand-new hardware also likely already have a current-gen console, which removes the need to upgrade because Xbox won’t have first-party exclusives for two years or so after launch. So from that perspective, the “budget” option is just an Xbox One, either a new one or the one you already have. That’s even more true because the trade-in market will get flooded with Xbox Ones and PS4s immediately after the new machines come out.
Like I said, this is a wildcard. It could stand to upend the way we traditionally think about price on a new machine, as well as the way we think about the two-horse race between Microsoft and Sony(Nintendo does its own thing). I’m eager to hear more about one of the most interesting wrinkles in the console war yet, and now I suppose we set our clock forward to E3. Even hearing nothing about Lockhart would be news at that point, so we’ll see.
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