The PS5 is a huge hit, limited only by Sony’s ability to produce more in a turbulent production economy. It’s once again leading the sales race against Xbox for the second generation in a row, and by estimates at least somewhat similar margins.
And yet, throughout this generation, there seems to be a story that continues to take shape regarding PS5 and Sony’s attempt to squeeze consumers for extra cash. The word “greedy” has been thrown around a lot since the system’s launch, for a few different reasons, and we’ve got another one this week.
Of course, it’s somewhat redundant to call a mega-corporation “greedy” if the goal is to generate revenue. In practice, Sony is probably no more or less greedy than hundreds of other companies trying to get the most profit out of customers. And yet, once you’re branded with something in the video game space, it tends to stick. Xbox got hit with the idea that the Xbox One was “under par” and that essentially lasted the whole generation. The Wii U was a “gimmick” and it was the worst generation of hardware in modern Nintendo history.
Now the “greed” story is brought up again and again with Sony, and it feels like it sticks, justified or not. But here are the main arguments, some of which are even annoying PS fans themselves, keeping this from being an exclusive “console wars” debate.
- Sony just announced that they are raising PS5 prices by about 10% in many regions outside the US due to inflation and currency complications. Immediately faced with the same market conditions, both Nintendo and Xbox announced that they will not increase prices for their own hardware.
- Sony has been the main driving force behind trying to get the industry to accept an increase from $60 to $70 as the standard price for most new video games. This includes a huge range of games, from games that can defend that (God of War) and games that can’t (Godfall). Sony recently drew controversy over the sale of the $70 remake of The Last of Us Part I, a remake of a 9-year-old game that’s already been remastered once, and now this new version, at $70, costs more than the original ever did.
- Then there’s the nonstop comparisons to Microsoft, which has offered all of its games on Xbox Game Pass “for free” right at launch as part of that service, while Sony has said that idea is financially untenable for them and their customers. large-scale AAA games, which are sold separately for that new $70 price. And while Sony has started releasing more games on PC, unlike Microsoft, years later they try to release the same game twice on different platforms. rather than giving players a PC copy for free at launch.
There are, of course, counter-arguments to what Sony is doing here, defending their position. All Microsoft comparisons should perhaps take into account that while Sony is a big company with a market cap of $100 billion, it is not Microsoft with its market cap of $2 trillion, so they can afford to incur a lot more costs if Sony does. can not.
When it comes to game pricing, there’s the perennial debate that game prices have been stuck at $60 for centuries, well past the inflation (even before this recent hyperinflation) that should have pushed them up already, and Sony’s move makes sense. The counter-argument there is that games have much, much more revenue streams than they used to, from DLC to microtransactions, and the industry is bigger and more profitable than ever.
But the more often these problems crop up, the more Sony continues to take pricing and policy measures that seem intended to fill their wallets and the direct costs of their customers. When your product arrives this one a lot of question, you can do things like raise prices and still hit all your goals, but I see a growing frustration among even Sony fans that things like this keep happening, and only exclusively within the PlayStation ecosystem, with Microsoft and Nintendo not taking similar action, or that now on console or game prices. Sony’s goodwill may have a hard shell one day here, and they should keep an eye on that.
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