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What PS5's Different Versions Could Mean for Price

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BatmanH

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After months of piecing together information about the upcoming Sony PlayStation 5, we’ve finally gotten a look at the console’s unique design – along with the reveal that a disc-less “Digital Edition” will also be in tow. We didn’t, however, get any more hints about the PS5’s price, though the presence of a digital edition is promising.

First, let’s clear up one misconception: it’s unlikely that these two consoles will be hugely different in terms of performance. So don’t expect a base-model PS5 and a high-powered PS5 Pro at launch – if Sony decides to do a PS5 Pro model, we’d expect it to come in the form of a mid-generation refresh, as the PS4 Pro did.

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Instead, we’re assuming the disc-less PS5 will be more akin to the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, which launched for $250 last year—$50 cheaper than the disc-enabled Xbox One S cost at the time. Given that the PS5’s optical drive is a UHD Blu-ray player, like the Xbox One S, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar price difference between the two models. (UHD Blu-ray drives are more expensive in the PC space – closer to $100 or more – but I wouldn’t lean too heavily on that. Those drives often have Blu-ray burning capabilities, and Sony isn’t paying retail prices for their optical drives anyway. I’d be surprised if the Digital Edition came with more than $50 savings.)

We still don’t know what the consoles’ final price tags will be, though – and it’s possible Sony hasn’t landed on a final number either. We have, however, been given a few clues along the line. Bloomberg reported in February that Sony’s manufacturing costs lie around $450 per unit. Given that the PS4 was estimated to cost $381 to manufacture (with a list price of $400 at launch), a sub-$500 price point for the PS5 isn’t out of the question – depending on how much a loss Sony wants to take.

A low price is not guaranteed, though. Another Bloomberg report said that Sony was expecting a list price of $499 to $549, which may be more realistic. On the higher end, a recent Amazon UK listing for the PS5 showed a £599.99 price tag (about $746 USD), though Amazon claims that was an error.

Couple all that with COVID-19-related component scarcity, and your guess is as good as mine. Sony may still be skittish after the PS3 launched at too-high a price, and given the advanced tech going into this year’s consoles, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a $500+ machine – but I’d love to be proven wrong.

Assuming those rumors are all discussing the disc-based version, that means we could see the Digital Edition coming in at a slightly more palatable $450, if we’re lucky. If the optical version costs more than that – I’ve heard some “hope for the best and expect the worst” folks estimate as high as $600 – that extra $50 in savings even more welcome. Even if you still have to sell a kidney to afford the PS5 on day one.

Keep in mind the long-term consequences of your choice, though. If you already get all your games digitally, then you can grab the Digital Edition without a second thought. But if you’re still split between discs and digital, consider that buying games on disc can often be cheaper than buying them digitally, at least for the games you aren’t itching to play at launch. (Middle-Earth: Shadow of War’s Definitive Edition, to pick a current example, is $60 on the PlayStation Store right now, while the disc version can run as cheap as $11). A couple deals like that, and you could easily save more in the long run with a disc-based PS5, provided you have the cash up front to pay for it.

I haven’t decided on one or the other just yet, but I’m excited nonetheless – all this choice and competition can only be a win for gamers.

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