NOV. 23, 2015 • Three days after Microsoft Corp. announced a new $50 Thanksgiving weekend price break for the Xbox One that resulted in several $299 bundles, Sony Computer Ent. America has responded with a Black Friday weekend promotion of its own. Between the 26th of November and the 30th of November, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection 500GB PlayStation 4 Bundle will be priced at $299 at retail and online inside the United States. The package will be priced at $369.99 CAD in Canada. SCEA vice president of marketing, John Koller, made the announcement on the company’s online blog.
Update: Following the Thanksgiving weekend, Sony announced it was extending the $299 MSRP on the Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection 500GB PS4 Bundle between December 6th and 19th. What’s more, Sony has reduced the Star Wars: Battlefront 500GB PS4 Bundle to $299 for the same period. In other news, SCE reported that 30.2 million PlayStation 4 units had sold worldwide as of November 22nd.
Impact: Frankly, this is a surprise to us. By the absence of an official news release, it appears that Sony made its price reduction decision at the last moment. Letting the Xbox One pull closer in the Christmas hardware race with deep bundle discounts did not bother Sony last year as the company has been justifiably bullish on PS4 pricing for a long time thanks to its commanding lead in unit sales since launch. The entry-level 500GB PlayStation 4 only arrived at $349 early last month. That Microsoft would deeply discount the Xbox One in the fourth quarter in order to drive system sales was no surprise to Sony or anyone else. But what was different on Microsoft’s part was announcing the price break as a Thanksgiving weekend promotion. SCEA may not be inclined to lower the PS4 MSRP for the entire holidays, but with Microsoft introducing its deal as a weekend-only offer, it gave Sony the opening to price one PlayStation 4 bundle at $299 for the same weekend to steal Redmond’s marketing thunder. The Xbox One promotion is wider given all SKUs get a $50 discount, but the $299 headline only applies to two SKUs. The larger question is whether Sony’s move is primarily a way to stick a thumb in Microsoft’s eye, or whether PlayStation 4 system sales need a competitive price point story to rally around. Sony may be getting aggressive to try for a knockout punch. If the Xbox One does not have a stellar holiday it is likely to mean a bleak outlook for the system. Then again, there were indications of excess PlayStation 4 inventory, and although the publisher is marketing Star Wars Battlefront as a platform exclusive, that is not the case and the PS4 is actually very light on exclusives this holiday season. We still do not believe Sony is interested in price matching through December should Microsoft continue with its $50 reduction after Thanksgiving, but we now have to admit the possibility is there. With aggressive pricing Sony seems determined not to let cost be a determining factor.