This post was updated on 7.18.2020
Things got nutty earlier in the week. A rumor that Sony was going to open up PS5 pre-orders by announcing the price and release date gained some traction, and there was a moment when we really thought it was going to happen: sooner or later, Sony does have to tell us how much this thing costs! But this one turned out to be a bust, and Geoff Keighley asked PlayStation global head of marketing Ed Lempel about it in an interview about the Dualsense controller today.
“No, definitely not now. We don’t know what happened there, we have nothing to do with it,” he said about the rumor.
“I think it’s safe to say: we will let you know when pre-order will happen. It’s not going to happen within minutes notice. We’re going to at some point let you know when you can pre-order a PlayStation 5, so please don’t feel like you have to run out and go line up anywhere”.
So that’s a bit of a relief: when pre-orders open up, it’s not going to be a surprise. Sony, naturally, wants as much hype as possible, and it’s also easy to imagine a situation where confusion and chaos reign in the wake of a surprise announcement. As fun as it was to imagine that it was actually going to happen earlier in the week, we can expect some more choreography on this front.
The next major punctuation mark in this burgeoning console war is Microsoft’s big games showcase next Thursday, though Microsoft would very much prefer to stop referring to this whole thing as a console war. That’s when we’re going to see more about Halo: Infinite as well as whatever else Microsoft has cooking up in the way of first-party games for the next few years: there’s word of Perfect Dark reboot, and that would be amazing.
And yet despite the dance of exclusives and game reveals, the price remains by far the biggest question here. That’s why pre-orders might take a while to go live, because you can’t exactly open up pre-orders without telling people how much a thing costs. And by all outside accounts, Microsoft and Sony seem to be locked into a game of chicken, both hoping to learn something about the other’s plans before making their own announcements. We’re now far past the point when we would have expected to have this information—last generation, we found out at E3, but this year COVID-19 means there’s no E3.
Most are still expecting these consoles to live somewhere in the neighborhood of $499, but there are some complicating factors in the mix. On the PlayStation side, we’ve got both the all-digital and disc drive editions, and most are expecting about a $50 price differential between the two. On the Xbox side, we’re still expecting to hear about Project Lockhart, a less powerful console that could come in at a dramatically lower price, changing the conversation around access to next-gen console gaming entirely.
Sony is reportedly increasing its initial production run of PS5s after an explosion of gaming interest due to COVID-19 lockdowns, so it appears to be raising its expectations of what’s possible here. But ultimately we’re just not going to have a great idea of where these things are going to land until either company comes down on a firm price and opens up pre-orders. Stay tuned for more, as it comes.