Will the PS5 Tempt People to Upgrade?

New games play on old models

Key Takeaways

  • The PS5’s launches on November 12, and is priced at $499.99 for the Blu-ray equipped version, and $399.99 for the digital-only edition.
  • Sony gamers might have less reason to upgrade after it was reported that some PS5 games will also be release for the PS4.
  • The PS5’s reported virtual reality (VR) capabilities could make it a particularly attractive purchase, said one video game analyst.
The PS5, DualSense controller, and Pulse headset

Sony’s upcoming Playstation 5 is a tempting upgrade despite its high price tag during a sluggish economy, experts say. 

The PS5’s November 12 launch date and price was confirmed at Wednesday’s Sony event as $500 for the Blu-ray equipped version or $400 for the digital-only edition. The new console will compete with Microsoft’s soon-to-be released Xbox Series X. However, some Sony gamers may pause before clicking the pre-order button after it was reported that some games for the PS5 will also be released for the PS4.

"With the economy the way it is, people are very price conscious and so there will be a bunch of people that will delay the purchase of upgraded hardware," said Joost van Dreuenen, author of the book One Up: Creativity, Competition, and the Global Business of Video Games, in a phone interview. "What it just means is that it will just gain momentum a little slower. So the people who want to buy it, they'll buy it in the holiday season."

Necessary Details

After Wednesday’s event, some developers told The Washington Post that PS5 games, including Horizon: Forbidden West and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, will also be released for the PS4.

"We want to give gamers clarity, we want to give them certainty," Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO and President Jim Ryan told the Post. "We want to future proof them so that they know the console they buy will be relevant in several years’ time. It’s a considerable capital outlay, and we want to make sure people know they are buying a true next-generation console."

Microsoft beat Sony by announcing the rival Xbox Series X and Series S earlier this month. The Xbox Series X and Series S will arrive on Nov. 10 for $500 and $300, respectively. There’s a bigger performance difference in Microsoft’s lineup, however. The disc-less PS5 will have the same chips and performance of the Blu-ray-equipped model, but Microsoft's Xbox Series S is less powerful than the Series X.

Shortly after Wednesday’s event, Sony also revealed the prices of accessories, including $70 for a standalone DualSense wireless controller and $100 for its Pulse 3D wireless headset. Games for the PS5 will range from $50 to $70. 

Virtual Reality

The PS5’s VR capabilities could make the PS5 a particularly attractive purchase, said video game analyst Jennifer "Narz" Vargas, in a phone interview. While not officially announced, Sony is reportedly working on a next-generation VR headset designed exclusively for operation on the PS5. 

"Sony’s virtual reality accessories are eventually going to get there," Vargas said. "I don't know if it's going to be anytime soon, but I definitely can say that they're on the right track."

Visitors wearing PlayStation VR headsets during the Tokyo Game Show 2017
Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images 

Sony is also rushing to compete in the bundling department. The company on Wednesday announced the PlayStation Plus Collection, a bundle of popular PS4 games, including 2018’s God of War. Subscribers of Sony’s gaming service will be able to access the included titles for $9.99 per month. Meanwhile, Microsoft's $14.99 per month Xbox Games Pass Ultimate subscription competes by offering new titles that can be streamed or downloaded to the console or a PC.

The More Things Change

Backwards compatibility is also a point in the PS5’s favor with Sony officials saying that most PS4 games will run directly on the new console. "It definitely encourages a consumer to purchase it because if, for whatever reason, they don’t want to play the newest games, they don't have to forfeit getting a console that’s got better graphics," Vargas said.

Sony is targeting affluent gamers with its higher-priced PS5 compared to the Xbox, van Dreuenen said. "They serve different markets in the same way that Acura and Ferrari deal with different customers," he added. "Sony is clearly aiming for higher end, more affluent consumers that really care a great deal about the speedy high-end graphics. The Microsoft strategy is not quite as sexy as Sony's and their technology is great, but it's not quite as blisteringly fast."

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