The immediate question after Microsoft’s dramatic DRM u-turn last night revolved around what impact the reversal will have on the PlayStation 4. Sony milked its pro-consumer policies during E3 2013 last week, but now that the Redmond-based firm has responded, does that put the Japanese giant’s next generation console in a weaker position? Edward Woo, senior research analyst at Ascendiant Capital Markets, doesn’t believe that much has changed.
“I think that this is a big move by Microsoft,” he told EDGE magazine. “They obviously felt that things were turning badly against them, and now they don’t have a choice but to match Sony. While this levels things more, I still think that Sony, with the $100 price advantage and goodwill from the Microsoft mess, still has the upper hand.”
Woo believes that both the PS4 and Xbox One will sell around two million units this year – but he expects Sony’s console to pull ahead in 2014. Meanwhile, IHS Screen Digest’s senior principal analyst and head of games Piers Harding-Rolls thinks that the impending battle will now depend entirely on price and games.
“We believe that price will be the biggest differentiating feature, and have slightly adjusted down our Xbox One sales expectations for continental Europe at launch based on the €100 gap in pricing,” he said. “It was clear that Microsoft needed to do something to douse the flames of discontent, and the u-turn means that early adopters can now make a straight purchase decision based on content, price, and features between the Xbox One and PS4.”
Microsoft’s made clear this morning that it won’t adjust the price of its system, but it made similar comments about DRM just a few days ago. Should it actually stay put, though, Woo reckons that the company is going to have a difficult time justifying the added expense of its platform. “I think that the consoles are very similar, so the $100 price difference will now be very important,” he continued. “Microsoft will have to explain why the $100 is worth the price.”