Thoughtful speculation on PS4 price, crazy rumors on Xbox 720 internals

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Source: Sony

Sony's Playstation 3 launched at an infamously high $500-$600 price point (depending on the model). We now know that the Playstation 4 is coming later this year but we're still waiting to see if Sony once again 'pushes the envelope' when it comes to price.

The good news is that, according to Sony Worldwide Studios’ vice president Michael Denny, Sony learned some lessons from the PS3 (via an interview with Edge). Denny wouldn't be pinned down on price but if you read between the lines it seems clear that the PS4 will have a more modest launch price.

Edge asked "What lessons have you learned from the PS3 price? Will PS4 launch with a more competitive price point?" and Denny responded:

There’s plenty of time, we’ve got lots of information yet to give out on PlayStation 4. The initial announcement phase that we’re in now is just to explain the vision to everybody. Part of that vision is we have created a console absolutely focused on gamers – and we want that to be gamers in the broadest sense as well. I think to some extent I can ask you to draw your own conclusions.

To me, 'gamers in the broadest sense' means they want to reach beyond the 'core gamers' and to do that they simply can't launch at $500, and $400 would be quite a stretch. My prediction is $349 but I'm going to hope for $299.

Ars Technica picked up this story as well and gathered predictions from various tech pundits and analysts. These vary from $400 to $529, while Ars calls out analyst Billy Pidgeon suggesting that "$299 is the magic price point." Note that Pidgeon isn't suggesting that this will be the price PS4 launches at; he's saying it's the price they need for the system to be a hit this holiday season.

Now back to the Xbox 720/Durango. A friend passed another crazy rumor on to me yesterday. The source is an anonymous post on pastebin. This means it could be from an industry insider who knows all, or it could be a from a high school student fantasizing while sitting through a boring math class. You take your pick.

Anyway this unknown author says that almost everything coming out of that VGLeaks post we talked about last week is true except for one huge detail. This person claims that Microsoft has reduced the Xbox 360 internals to a single system-on-a-chip (SoC) and that this 360 SoC will power both the Xbox Mini and be included in the Xbox Durango.

Further, not only does this mean that the Durango will be fully backwards compatible with the Xbox 360, but that game developers can use both the Durango hardware and the 360 SoC in parallel to get even more power out of the system.

The author also claims Durango will run Windows 8 without the desktop, and so any game developed for Windows App Store will run on Durango, assuming the developer gives it controller support.

This is the kind of rumor I share because it can spin off some interesting discussion/comments. With such a far-fetched claim and no attribution, I'm not suggesting it's an accurate rumor. In fact I'm finding it really difficult to believe that Microsoft could shrink the Xbox 360 internals into a SoC, or even a small daughterboard that would slip inside the Durango, and still keep the price of the new Xbox down. This is exactly the route Sony followed with the PS3 and it's what led to the ludicrously high launch price. But what do you readers think? I'm certainly not a hardware expert and honestly I'd love to be proven wrong.

Some really smart people left comments on my last Durango post and I'd love to hear their thoughts on this latest rumor. Is there any way it could be accurate? Also, anyone care to guess what the PS4 launch price will be?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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