As Sony was unveiling the feature-rich, and still-as-yet un-photographed PlayStation 4 console last night, one question kept running through my mind: how much is this thing going to cost? The PlayStation 3 was pretty expensive at launch—infamously so, costing $500 at the most inexpensive level. As a result, it didn’t fare as well at retail in the United States as the competition.
So when they kept talking about touchpad-enabled controllers, teraflops, and gigsaram, I kept coming back to cost, wondering how much it would be, and smiling sadly to myself when the press conference came to a close with nary a price to be had. As it turns out, Sony America’s top dog, Jack Tretton, is wondering the same thing.
In an interview with AllThingsD, Tretton was asked, point blank, “will the new console cost $599 to start?”
His response of “I certainly hope not,” doesn’t fill me with hope.
“I think we’re very proud of what we delivered with the PlayStation 3 in terms of technology, and that we were able to enhance the features while still reducing the price to $249. But I think our goal with this is to debut at a more consumer-friendly price. But we haven’t made any final decisions about what the price will be at launch.”
Tretton was also asked about why Sony declined to reveal what the PlayStation 4 console actually looked like:
“I guess when I think about the console, you open it up, you look at it, you certainly look at it when you insert a disc, but for most people, it’s behind a cabinet or on a shelf somewhere and you spend all your time looking at the screen. And we wanted to show people the screen. There will be multiple opportunities to share the look of the console between now and the launch. We just didn’t choose this first event as the time to show it.
[…] we’re certainly capable of showing playable game content, but we don’t have a mass-production box that we can bring out and pull out. That’s still in development in terms of final specs and design.”
A fair point. After all, in the end, they’re all just little boxes that have wires that hook up to your TV. Still, the PS4 was conspicuous by its absence.
To backtrack to the original subject of this post though, I am a bit worried that Tretton himself, the head of Sony’s American game business, couldn’t give a slightly better answer than “I certainly hope not” regarding a potential $600 price tag. I do think it’s safe to say that it won’t cost that much…but the hardware sure did sound expensive.
Tretton’s inability to flatly deny the $600 tag, to me, is troubling. If they’re going for a “more consumer-friendly” price—and he knows that they’re going that way—shouldn’t it be in the company script to say, “yeah, it won’t be $600”?
At this point, we’ll have to wait and see. We didn’t get a price tag on the Wii U until about two months prior to its November 18 launch late last year. Don’t be surprised if we’re all still playing price-guessing games well into autumn 2013.