One of the major stories coming out of E3 this year was the price difference between the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One. How that price difference was achieved will probably not surprise you, but says something about Sony’s strategy.
It’s no secret that when Sony originally uttered the words of $399 for the Playstation 4 there was a huge sigh of relief from both the crowd and enthusiasts following the stream online. Due to the high specs, which are better than those of the $499 Xbox One, there was a bit of concern over what Sony could launch with and that they may not go as low as they need to.
Now that we know that the price is indeed the case, we are left with a question. How did they get a price that’s only $50 more expensive than the notably weaker Wii U, and $100 less than the Xbox One despite being stronger than it. The answer? The camera. If you’re a fan of the Kinect sensor or other forms of motion gaming then you were probably upset to hear that Sony will not be bundling the camera with the console in every SKU.
Sony has made an interesting decision here where they’ve relegated the camera to being an optional accessory in order to keep the price of the console as low as possible. It seems to indicate that Sony values early market penetration more than they do the value proposition that a camera offers. They aren’t throwing it completely to the side, there’s no doubt we’ll see some support for it but it’s likely to always be something of a niche product because of this decision.
Microsoft meanwhile has made the Kinect a mandatory part of the package, similar to what Nintendo has done with the Wii U gamepad. Both of those decisions causing a notably higher price than they would be without them. All three companies share their own vision for gaming and entertainment in general and by choosing price over camera, Sony is emphasizing their focus on a machine that is accessible in terms of price and value for developers and core gamers alike.
With that said, the PS4 will likely be Sony’s console for 5-8 years so their vision could shift midway through similar to what Microsoft did with the original Kinect. Until the consoles launch this holiday and beyond, it’ll be hard to say which strategy pays off more.