Microsoft has created a huge opportunity for the PS4, but Sony has to find the balls to take it
Microsoft kicked off E3 with a thundering presentation that showed us game after game, and we'll get to many of those titles later, but the presentation ended with the price tag: $499.99, with the system coming in November. I had previously said that anything above the $350 to $400 range is going to cause massive problems for a console, and I stand by that. It's going to be hard to convince consumers to pay that much for a system at launch, especially in the current economic climate.
What Microsoft has done is to create a huge opening for Sony to move in and take back much of the gaming mindshare in North America. Consumers have already made their displeasure at many of Microsoft's DRM policies known, and Sony has created some breathing room for itself by hanging back and seeing what its competitor is up to. So what's the killing blow?
All Sony has to do is enable unlimited game trading and a lack of an online check-in requirement, although that's highly unlikely if the publishers have their way, and release at $399.99. That's still a high price for a gaming console, and we will likely see price drops on the current generation of hardware, but a $100 difference between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is a signifcant amount of money. Keep in mind that Microsoft has not announced any subsidized models of the Xbox One in exchange for an Xbox Live subscription or some other service, a move that many were expecting.
A lower price, more giving attitude towards customers, and free online play would make the PlayStation 4 an amazing value for gamers. Let's just see if Sony is in a position to really go for the throat, or if we'll see a repeat of Microsoft's strategy. In many ways Microsoft has to be hoping for collusion, with both companies telling consumers that this will be the way gaming will be moving forward. Things could get interesting very quickly if Sony decides to give gamers a second option.
We'll be live-blogging Sony's presentation at 6 p.m. PST, and let's hope some of this information will be shared.