Sony is doing its part in the console wars by officially dropping the PlayStation 4 price to $350.
The new prices go into effect on October 9, with a bundle that includes Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. Another bundle with Star Wars Battlefront will arrive on November 17. Sony also plans to sell limited edition bundles for Call of Duty Black Ops III, Disney Infinity 3.0: Star Wars, and Star Wars Battlefront, all priced at $450. (Retailers may also come up with their own bundles, such as Target’s Destiny: The Taken King Limited Edition package for $400 with a $50 gift card.)
The price drop was predicted, amusingly enough, by Microsoft’s Xbox head Phil Spencer, who told IGN last month that Sony would likely lower prices based on “the playbook they’ve used in the past.” Microsoft itself slashed the Xbox One’s price to $350 in January, following holiday promotion that was billed as a limited-time offer. The Xbox One’s current $350 game bundles include a choice of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, and The LEGO Movie.
Why this matters: With both consoles now on equal price footing, competition again becomes a question of which side has better entertainment. Beyond the requisite stables of exclusive games—Halo and Forza Motorsport on the Xbox; Bloodborne and No Man’s Sky on PlayStation—the consoles are becoming more distinct in the gaming and TV features they offer.
Fighting on multiple fronts
On the gaming side, graphics enthusiasts will point to the PlayStation 4’s superior processing power, which routinely runs games at a higher resolution than the Xbox One. Sony is also betting big on cloud gaming (with the $20 per month Playstation Now service) and virtual reality, with the PlayStation VR headset that’s launching next year.
Microsoft is responding with backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games, and deep tie-ins with Windows 10. PC users, for instance, can stream their games from an Xbox One over Wi-Fi, and view their achievements and friend activity through the Xbox app for Windows 10. Microsoft is also working on a handful of games that allow for cross-platform multiplayer, such as Fable Legends.
The two consoles are also battling on the video front, but with very different strategies. Aside from the usual streaming apps for Netflix and Amazon Prime, Sony has launched a full-blown streaming TV service called PlayStation Vue, along with a small number of a la carte channels that come at a discount for PlayStation Plus subscribers.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is embracing free over-the-air channels with a broadcast TV tuner, and plans to offer broadcast DVR in 2016. Combined with Sling TV—which remains unavailable for PS4 users—this could be a powerful solution for people who’ve cut the cable TV cord.
For a time, it seemed the two consoles would become very similar, as Microsoft backtracked on many of its unpopular Xbox One plans. But with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 branching in different directions, only the price point is the same.