Two days ahead of an expected PS4 reveal, new reports suggest that Sony’s next-generation console will launch around an oft-rumored $400 price point. Despite claims from Sony CEO, Kaz Hirai, that the PS3-followup would debut after Microsoft’s next Xbox console, industry insiders and financial analysts expect to see a PS4 announcement this Wednesday (from the time of this writing), February 20, 2013 at Sony’s “See The Future Event.”

In the lead-up to the potential announcement, several news agencies have liquidated their Sony scoop stores – offering insight into what gamers can likely expect to pay for a PS4, when it will be available at retail, and what exactly the console will offeraside from simply “better graphics.” Today’s report gives further credence to prior details suggesting that not only will the PS4 be less expensive at launch than its 2006 predecessor, it will likely be in the ballpark of a $400 price point.

The Times UK has thrown a hat in the PS4 pricing ring, officially asserting that Sony’s new console will come in at around £300 – which is roughly $400 in the United States. A $400 cost is $100 less than the basic model PS3 (20GB) back in November 2006 – which debuted with a $499 price tag. Gamers who have followed this generation’s “console war” know that most insiders credit a lower base price point ($299) and earlier launch date (November 2005) as important keys to Microsoft’s lead this generation. While we don’t yet know when the Xbox 720 will launch or how much it will cost, assuming recent reports are accurate, Sony appears to be taking an aggressive stance in an attempt to not make the same mistake twice.

Sony PS4 Controller Prototype

That said, there are two significant points to keep in mind (aside from the fact that none of this is actually confirmed yet):

1) Even if the European price for the PS4 does turn out to be £300, that doesn’t mean that Sony will price the device by simply adjusting the retail cost through the euro to dollar exchange rate (roughly $401). Instead, Sony could still price the device well-above or below that $400 window. Though, assuming that they’ll want to lower the price over time to attract new buyers (in addition to bumping up hard drive capacity and adding features), a $399 price point does sound like a reasonable place to start.

2) Just because Sony might plan to release a PS4 at $399 doesn’t mean it’ll be the only PS4 on the market at launch (or the one you’ll want). For years, every new generation of consoles has launched with options. As mentioned earlier, both the PS3 and Xbox 360 had base models – and we’ve seen that trend continue with the recent Wii U launch (i.e. the Deluxe versus Basic packages). At this point, there’s no way of knowing what benefits a premium PS4 package would contain (if it even exists) but there’s a very good chance that longtime PlayStation fans won’t want to settle for a basic console – possibly priced around $399. As a result, the must-have version of the console (at launch) could run a higher price – maybe around $499 (though that’s entirely speculation at this point).

Still, one thing is almost for certain, as soon as Sony announces the PS4, late-to-the-party consumers will need added incentive to buy a PS3 – in lieu of waiting until the next-gen console arrives. As a result, it’s no surprise that industry analyst Michael Pachter (talking to GameIndustry.Biz) expects the hardware manufacturer to announce another PS3 price drop in the wake of the PS4 event – meaning the 250 GB PS3 could soon retail at $199.

PS3 Ultra Slim 500GB

Again, no official announcements have been made but price drops for current generation tech often follow next generation console unveilings. If this trend continues, that $199 price point would represent a full $70 dollar drop from the cost of a 250GB PS3 ($269) – and favorably position the console against the comparable Xbox 360 priced at $299 (the 250GB model without Kinect).

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.

The Sony “See the Future” Event takes place on February 20, 2013.

Source: The Times UK (via CVG) and GameIndustry.Biz

tags: PS3, PS4, Sony