“There’s just some consumer obstinacy about spending more than $300-400 on a console.”
As games get better looking and more and more technologically sophisticated, the costs of making them continue to rise. For consumers, on the other hand, this leads to not just more intrusive monetization methods in games, but also more expensive hardware needed to run those games to begin with.
This generation saw consoles launch at their highest average price yet, with the PS4 launching at $400 and the Xbox One launching at $500- and now, the Xbox One X has, yet again, come in at the $500 price point. Is this indicative that to hit the level of power necessary to get an appropriate specs and graphics bump that most gamers expect, the next gen of consoles might end up costing $500 or more at launch, too?
According to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, the answer to that is no. Speaking on his web show, Pachter said that $500 consoles have historically never done well, and that is unlikely to change- although he did say that, presuming the Xbox One X was a sufficient, sustained success, he would be proven wrong.
“I don’t think next gen consoles will be $500… though I guess the right answer is, let’s see what happens with the Xbox One X,” he said. “If Xbox One X is a phenomenal success, if it sells out, if overall Xbox sales rise to above the current level of 10 million a year, because everyone wants that power, then sure, the next gen can be more expensive. But if the Xbox One X sells 1-2 million a year, out of the 10 million Xbox sold every year, and after a couple of years, they satisfy demand and no one wants it at $500, then no.
“Look, I don’t have a lot of experience with $500 consoles, but what I have is bad. The PS3 launched at $600 and it flopped. The Xbox One launched at $500, and it didn’t work, they had to drop the Kinect and bring it to under $400 before it sold. There’s just some consumer obstinacy about spending more than $300-400 on a console. I can’t explain why, I spend that much on Halloween candy, I don’t know. Some people, they just say ‘I can buy an HDTV for $500,’ and you can, and in a couple of years, you’ll be able to get 4KTVs at that price. So a console sounds very expensive compared to that- a TV will last you 10 years, and you can use it all the time, and a console lasts you 5 years, and won’t be used that much. So my bias is no, $500 consoles won’t happen.”
He also touched briefly upon when next generation consoles might launch to begin with, stressing again that he doesn’t feel like discrete console generations will ever happen again, while stating that this would be a question to return to after the Xbox One X has had a couple of months on the market.
I agree with him on the former point- I don’t think $500 consoles will ever be mass market or palatable to the mainstream, and so, I do not see them happening. But as for there being no more discrete generations, well… look, as far as I know, I was the earliest advocate for rolling hardware generations on the internet. back when the Scorpio and Pro first leaked, and everyone either doubted the rumors, or dismissed the potential of the idea, I was talking about how they could be the wave of the future for consoles.
But the thing is, while I see Microsoft going with this plan, and I see Nintendo continuing to do their own thing, I don’t see Sony dropping discrete hardware generations, not just yet. I think there will be a full fledged PS5- but like Pachter, I don’t think it will be $500.