If you spend any time at all discussing the next-gen consoles, someone is bound to bring up the idea that the PS3 is overpriced. But is that really the case? There’s no mistaking the fact that it’s expensive — too expensive, in fact for many people to afford. But of course that’s also true of the Xbox 360. It’s too bad that this generation of game consoles (with the exception of the Wii) seems to be out of reach of so many. I think this is a big reason why the portable systems and the PS2 are so popular. But is the PS3 really overpriced? (More after the jump.)
The rallying cry of many Xbox 360 fans seems to be that the PS3′s $600 price tag is outrageous, and that it isn’t worth paying $200 more than the Xbox 360. But that’s a misleading argument for one simple reason: it doesn’t make sense to compare the 60GB PS3 with the Xbox Premium System. Just because they are the “high-end” versions of each system does not mean they are comparable. If you want to make a meaningful comparison, you have to compare the models that are most similar. In this case, it is the 20GB PS3 and the Xbox 360 Premium System.
Look at their specs. Both the 20GB PS3 and the high-end Xbox 360 have 20GB hard disks, wireless controllers, and wired internet. The PS3 doesn’t come with component cables or an audio headset like the Xbox 360, but it does include an HDMI port and a Blu-ray drive. When you look at the price of Blu-ray/HD-DVD drives, the $100 price difference between the PS3 and the Xbox 360 seems quite reasonable. After all, the Xbox 360′s add-on HD-DVD drive costs $199, and there’s no way to add HDMI even if you wanted it.
The 60GB PS3 should not be thought of as the “real” PS3. It should be thought of as an “upgraded model” that includes wireless networking, an additional 40GB of hard disk space, and a memory card reader for an extra $100 over the price of the 20GB model. For people who need these extra features, it’s a reasonable deal. After all, Microsoft charges $99 for their wireless Internet add-on alone. In fact, if you were to outfit an Xbox 360 as closesly to the PS3 as possible, you would spend considerably more. (An Xbox 360 with HD-DVD drive and wi-fi costs $697 — almost $100 more than the 60GB PS3, and it still has less hard disk space and no card reader).
What you CAN criticize the PS3 for is not giving the consumer as much choice as the Xbox 360. Sony’s inclusion of the Blu-ray drive in the PS3 is largely what drove up the price, and Microsoft’s decision to keep the HD-DVD drive optional has allowed them to achieve a lower theoretical price. Still, when you make your comparison based on features, the real price difference between the two systems is at most $100, which gets you the ability to watch HD movies and allows games on the system to make use of the massive storage of Blu-ray discs. With new games now costing $60 apiece, I’m not sure it makes much sense to choose your console based on a $100 price difference. Especially when that $100 gets you so much.
(Note: This isn’t meant to be a jab at the Xbox 360 — I have one and think it’s a great system. But I’m tired of people claiming that Sony is bilking their customers when it’s simply not true.)