Sony and Microsoft came to the 2020 next-gen console fight equipped with a similar pricing approach that differs from past sales tactics.
Rather than pushing out one console each at launch, the companies have decided to give buyers the choice between price points. More expensive versions of the PlayStation and Xbox systems being released this week will carry extra features, though the variance in quality is far more pronounced with the Xbox.
By establishing a two-model approach, Sony and Microsoft can target different consumers within a single release cycle. Hardcore gamers have a pro option, while more casual gamers looking for the best possible deal can acquire a new system without paying top dollar.
The PlayStation 5, which comes out Thursday, is also using the split between models to signal a move away from physical disc games and toward downloadable content.
Here’s what you need to know about the two editions of the PlayStation 5:
PS5 price: Standard version vs. digital version
The standard version of the PlayStation 5 costs $499.99. The digital edition costs $399.99.
By comparison, the two next-gen Xbox consoles run at $499.99 and $299.99. We’ll get to the reasoning behind that cheaper version in a moment.
What are the differences between PlayStation 5 consoles?
Here’s where Sony and Microsoft diverge a bit. The only real hardware difference between PlayStation 5 editions is that the digital version doesn’t contain an optical disc drive. System specifications, from memory to power to 4K ability, are the exact same. For people who already download games instead of buying discs, getting the digital version is a no-brainer.
The cheaper Xbox, meanwhile, doesn’t have a disc drive and also has significantly reduced performance compared to the standard next-gen version. It loses almost half its storage and 8 teraflops of GPU power.
The Xbox Series X (Microsoft’s less expensive model) is $100 cheaper than the PlayStation 5 digital edition, and it will be interesting to see whether consumers see that as a reasonable trade for a reduction in hardware capabilities.
When will the PS5 be released?
The PlayStation 5 will be released on Thursday, Nov. 12. That’s two days after the Xbox, which comes out Tuesday, Nov. 10.