Following its reveal of the Xbox Series X last December, Microsoft finally revealed its other next-generation console, the Xbox Series S. It’s a new approach to the launch of a new console generation, where both the premium and more affordable versions of the same platform are available from day one. Coming off a generation with half-step iterations–the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro–it’s clear that Microsoft wants to give everyone some way to get in on its latest hardware. Which leaves Sony in a precarious position.
Sony has already revealed its hand with its own two versions of the PlayStation 5, albeit with a different philosophy in mind. Instead of providing two consoles that differ in terms of performance, Sony is simply giving customers the choice between having a disc drive or going all-in on digital purchases. The underlying hardware in both is identical, which suggests that their prices aren’t going to differ by much. At least, not to the degree at which Microsoft has positioned its Xbox Series X and Series S, which will retail for $500 and $300 respectively.
The Xbox Series S presents a potentially difficult marketing hurdle for Sony to overcome. At $300, it’s priced way too low for the more powerful, and more expensive to manufacture, PS5 to compete with, yet the existence of two versions of the PS5 immediately lends itself to the idea that it can. For those who understand the architectural differences between the two, this is a moot point. But for most customers who simply see two Xbox consoles and two PS5 consoles, understanding why they don’t trade blows at the same two price points could be very confusing. It’s evident already over social media, with numerous suggestions that the PS5 Digital edition should be priced to match the Series S. It’s just not feasible for Sony to make that move, never mind possible with the hardware it’s touting.