Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Digital Foundry has just published its conclusions about a strange leak from a while back, one that seems to indicate a lot of inside info about the upcoming specs of Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. The data was from a database of testing for an AMD gaming processor that was linked to PS5, and also allegedly contained data for the Series X.
There’s a lot of interesting information here, and I highly suggest you read the full report over at Digital Foundry because I’m not going to copy and paste it here. It seems to have more information about Sony’s PS5, including the ability for it to be tuned to play last-gen games, but some conclusions are drawn about both systems, with Digital Foundry believing that this information has a good chance of being accurate, albeit perhaps somewhat outdated. And here’s one of the core reveals:
“…The PlayStation 5 spec outlined in the leak points toward a device with more of a balance between price and performance,” Digital Foundry says. “Assuming we’re looking at a not implausible 16GB of GDDR6 and a 1TB SSD, this is still an expensive-looking device – but stacked up against the monstrous Series X, it obviously stands more of a chance of hitting the magic $399 launch price-point that served PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro so well. On the face of it, Microsoft has the more powerful machine, but some might say that in the console space, the price-point is of paramount importance.”
In short, the takeaway is that while both devices are powerful, these leaked specs may indicate that PS5 could be focused more on hitting a certain price point with tech that is not quite as intense as the Series X.
This is divergent from the narrative ahead of this leak where previous guesses said that it seemed likely that the two systems would be equivalent and power and price. If true, a split like this would be a risk on either end, though if I was a betting man, I’m always going to put money on the system that’s cheaper at launch.
If Sony launches a PS5 that is less powerful than Xbox Series X, even if only by a slim margin, that could be a narrative that sticks with the console for years, as we saw with the Xbox One, which was deemed less powerful than the PS4, and it took Xbox One X blowing everything else out of the water to finally correct that narrative.
And yet if Sony launches PS5 at a $400 price point because it’s sacrificed a few bells and whistles, that could be put Microsoft in a similar spot to what we saw with the overpriced $500 Xbox One launch. Granted, this time it would be more powerful and there wouldn’t be Kinect hanging around its neck, and yet after losing the current console generation by a wide sales margin, Microsoft is certainly not going to be comfortable launching yet again with a console that’s $100 more than its competition, particularly when Sony has built up such strong brand loyalty over the last generation which it won so handily. And god forbid that speculators are correct and we could even see a $400 PS5 versus a $600 Xbox Series X. That would take the situation from “risky” to “disastrous” in an instant.
From the sound of all this, it seems like if PS5 can produce something that at least feels like next gen power while keeping a low price point, that probably puts it at an advantage. But if Microsoft arrives with earth-shattering power, plus attractive add-ons like Game Pass or xCloud, that could shift things. And there’s always the rumor that MS could be developing a second, lower spec console, and maybe that one launches at $400 instead.
Again, none of this is confirmed, but if this narrative pans out, it’s going to be a very interesting fall indeed.