Sony’s two new hardware announcements didn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but the launch date and price of the PS4 Pro did feel like an aggressive move by the company, if you ask analysts. “The pricing gives Sony a big advantage. PS4 Slim is competitive with Xbox One S, but PS4 Pro is a bargain [at $399]. For the same price as the 2TB Xbox One S, you get 1TB and future proof for 4K. I think this sells very well at holiday, and was surprised it was coming out this year,” Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter
DFC Intelligence’s David Cole agreed, commenting, “The only big issue was when Pro would launch and they have a firm date this year and a solid price. Really this could be a final nail in the coffin for Xbox One now that Microsoft has told consumers to wait until 2017 [for Scorpio]. Sony will have the powerful system with VR now and a well-executed plan that leaves consumers no reason to wait. It is just an all-around compelling proposition.”
SuperData’s Joost van Dreunen added, “The relatively low price point for all available devices and the publisher support promises to supercharge the holiday season.”
IDC games research director Lewis Ward acknowledged that the PS4 Pro launch date and price is “a shot across the bow,” but he also told us, “I don’t think there’s much of an impact on Scorpio at this point.”
“The main course in the Pro upgrade is the roughly 2.2x boost in GPU power. That’s enough to drive one hell of a sexy picture. Unfortunately, both 4K TVs and HDR TVs, let alone sets that do both, are barely off the drawing board. So while Sony has staked out new territory as far as home consoles go on the rendering front, I question whether the Pro will be a big seller this holiday season since there doesn’t appear to be a large installed base of 4K/HDR TVs out there to take advantage of the sexy (AMD) silicon,” Ward continued.
“This is more about getting out there early and future-proofing the PS4 as gamers and videophiles eventually shell out for high-end TVs over the next several years. Having said that, the fact that Pro has a 1TB HDD may be more of a near-term selling point for those who like to download lots of content. For an extra $100 that’s a decent deal by itself when you realize that today’s PS4 with 1TB can cost $400-$500 depending on what’s in the bundle.”
Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games research at IHS, agrees with Ward that PS4 Pro sales will be limited to “a minority of PS4 buyers.” IHS has provided a forecast of 1.5 million PS4 Pro units sold worldwide in 2016, and the firm expects the overall PS4 installed base to reach 53.5 million by the end of the year. Interestingly, unlike the other analysts, Harding-Rolls also believes that Xbox One S could have the upper hand. “Microsoft’s cheaper Xbox One S also steals some of Sony’s Pro thunder, with a significant overlap in 4K features between the two consoles,” he said.
Furthermore, as Mike Goodman, Strategy Analytics’ director of digital media strategies, noted, Microsoft still has time to adjust its own strategy with Scorpio. “Microsoft is in an unusual position in that it can sit back and see how the market reacts to Sony and adjust plans accordingly,” he said. It’s also hard to know at this point whether console owners “are willing [to] buy into the cell phone model and purchase a new console every couple of years.”
Ultimately, while it’s exciting for the industry to see new hardware, the PS4 Pro and Scorpio are only targeting a sliver of the consumer market. According to Strategy Analytics, the global installed base of 4k UHD TV sets will be 83.8 million at the end of this year, and perhaps more importantly, the global installed base of HDR compatible televisions will be between 3 and 3.5 million.