Note: [All opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of GamerXChange]
The excitement for new consoles is reaching a fever pitch, Sony is looking more and more like they will announce the PlayStation 3’s successor on February 20th, 2013. With the possible reveal of the next Xbox not far away either, it begs to question what the price points will be for these new consoles? What would the average gamer be willing to pay for one of these new gaming consoles?
Price often comes to mind when people buy electronics, especially gaming consoles. I know right off the bat that the fanboys from each corner will claim to be willing to spend whatever it takes to bring one of these new consoles home, the actual reality is much, much different. I’m not saying that some hardcore fans of a particular company wont go out and spend a ton on the console of his/her choice, but that percentage is still going to be low when everything else is considered. I’m more interested in how much the average gamer will be willing to dish out for a new console, with so many other options to game, PC, Smartphone and Tablet, we might see some of these types of gamer’s decide to pass up the next generation of consoles altogether if they aren’t priced right. There is a balance between core and more casual gamer’s, but both are very important when it comes to the success of sales where consoles are concerned.
When it comes to the correlation of price and sales, it’s definitely easy to point out that cheaper consoles usually sell pretty well, of course other things come into play as well. A cheaper price point eases people into buying new hardware, it also entices different types of gamer’s into buying a console. Look back to the PS2 and you’ll see what I mean, back in the late 90’s Sony was basically the only gaming company that mattered, the PS2 appealed to everyone, my mother even had one. The games were varied and they appealed to a wide audience, the cheap DVD player didn’t hurt either, but that was something to attract people who weren’t even typically gamer’s. These new consoles are going to need some bait to attract all different types of gamer’s, the Wii U is relying on the popularity of tablets, and we can be relatively sure the PS4 will have some sort of motion controls, same with the Xbox 720. Will those things be able to attract families and casuals? I guess time will tell, but one thing is certain, the next wave of consoles need that “hook” and they need an attractive price point like the PS2 had, which was $299 in North America.
As you can see from the graph, most of the consoles that launched at a reasonable price point did well for themselves, there are exceptions like the Nintendo Gamecube which suffered from a “kiddie” perception and the whole lunch box look didn’t help matters either. A lot of what goes into a successful console launch is directly related to the software available in the actual launch window, I thought the Wii U had a pretty solid launch window, but a lot of the third party games were games that were already out on the other consoles. I am of the belief that new IP’s are needed to push console sales at launch. Successful launches can be tracked back to solid IP’s, Price and accessibility. Where as some of the bigger flops in the history of gaming consoles had ridiculous prices and lacked any real substance in the exclusives department.
I consider myself an average gamer. I usually purchase all the consoles from every generation, but I don’t buy them all on the first day they are available. I’ve already bought a Wii U because I thought it was priced right and it offered backwards compatibility and allows the use of used games, all things that are very important to me. If the next Microsoft and Sony consoles lack some or all of those features, I would definitely consider waiting before purchasing. Now if the price is right, which for me is no higher than $399 in North America, then I’m sold on all of them on launch day. I believe the average gamer is all in from the $299-$399 range, but probably closer to the $299.
None of us know for certain what the future holds for console gaming, I believe it will stick around for a long, long time to come. How the media and analysts react to sales out of the gate is another story entirely, like it or not tablets and smartphones have and will continue to cut into sales, we are in a worldwide struggle with the current economy, the smart thing for these console makers to do would be to take a loss in order to stimulate sales at launch, gaming is about more than the people who wear sweat bands and drink Gatorade while playing, price point plays a bigger role than many people might think. How much are you willing to shell out for next generation consoles? Sound off in our comment section below!