It has become abundantly clear that price is the determining factor when it comes to new gaming hardware.
Not many are anticipating a huge launch for the PlayStation Vita in North America, and that's despite the biggest launch software lineup in the brand's history. No, that $250/$300 price point is putting consumers off, as did the $600 price tag affixed to the PlayStation 3 in 2006.
So if Sony does indeed unveil the PS4 at E3 2012 , the primary question will undoubtedly be- "How much will it cost?" According to sources, we won't get that answer at E3 but even so, the question will linger until Sony responds, and then the announced price will be put under the microscope. Although I don't have an unlimited bank account, I think it's a little ridiculous to only focus on price when it comes to such a complex entertainment product, but that doesn't change reality. Price is crucial.
So where does the PS4 need to be? What should be its initial price point? Bear in mind that the PS3 fell in price relatively quickly, although people continued to complain about the price until it dropped down to $300. Should they care more about what Microsoft plans to charge for the new Xbox? With a 10-year lifespan in place for the PS3, the games will continue to flow for several years (as they did for the PS2 after the PS3 launched), and it's unlikely Sony will want to put themselves back in the red (or the black) so soon. Remember, it took a little longer for the PS3 to turn a profit in comparison to the PS2.
But from a consumer's standpoint, what's a safe price tag? What's reasonable, accounting for some inflation? Would $400 be about right or is that wishful thinking? Perhaps the big question is the technology; i.e., what sort of fancy new tech should we expect? That clearly determines the cost; Sony was losing money on every PS3 sold at the start, even though it cost $600…that thing was stupid expensive to make at the time. It's five years later; people are paying $600 for new phones, but maybe that isn't a fair comparison. Electronics are pretty expensive, though.
For gamers, what is about right? $500? What would be your limit?