Are Sony and Microsoft taking advantage of players during a financial crisis?

Are Sony and Microsoft taking advantage of players during a financial crisis?

GamingDeals.com have been aggressively monitoring the stock and releases of the new generation of consoles since they launched in late 2020.

It has been almost two years since the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles. The release of this new generation has been unprecedented, with stock being a huge issue since the onset due to the ongoing global chip shortage. 

Looking at the console release data it’s apparent that there has been a lack of official bundles for the newest consoles. Comparatively, in the same timespan during the last console generation (PS4 / Xbox One), there were an array of options when it came to official bundles.

 

PS4 official bundles & limited editions released within the first two years (2013-2015) (17 items)

  • November 2013 - Knack Official Bundle
  • November 2013 - Killzone: Shadow Fall Official Bundle
  • March 2014 - InFamous Second Son Official Bundle
  • May 2014 - Watch Dogs Official Bundle
  • July 2014 - The Last of Us Remastered Official Bundle
  • October 2014 - Driveclub Official Bundle
  • November 2014 - GTA V Official Bundle
  • November 2014 - Little Big Planet 3 Official Bundle
  • November 2014 - Far Cry 4 Official Bundle
  • June 2015 - Batman Arkham Knight Official Bundle
  • August 2015 - Disney Infinity 3.0 Official Bundle
  • September 2015 - Destiny The Taken King PS4 Official Bundle (Special Edition)
  • September 2015 - Metal Gear Solid V Official Bundle (Special Edition)
  • October 2015 - Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Official Bundle
  • October 2015 - Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate Official Bundle
  • November 2015 - Call of Duty Black Ops III Official Bundle (Special Edition)
  • November 2015 - Star Wars Battlefront Official Bundle (Special Edition)

 

Xbox One official bundles & limited editions released within the first two years (2013-2015) (10 items)

  • August 2014 - Madden 15 Official Bundle
  • October 2014 - Sunset Overdrive Official Bundle
  • November 2014 - Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Official Bundle (Special Edition)
  • November 2014 - Assassin’s Creed Unity/Black Flag Official Bundle
  • August 2015 - Gears of War Ultimate Edition Official Bundle
  • August 2015 - Madden NFL 16 Official Bundle
  • September 2015 - FIFA 15 Official Bundle
  • September 2015 - Forza Motorsport 6 Official Bundle (Special Edition)
  • October 2015 - Halo 5: Guardians Official Bundle (Special Edition)
  • November 2015 - Rise of the Tomb Raider Official Bundle

 

PS5 official bundles & limited editions released within the first two years (2020-2022) (2 items)

  • June 2021 - Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart Official Bundle (Disc only console)
  • June 2022 - Horizon Forbidden West Official Bundle (Digital and Disc consoles)

 

Xbox Series X official bundles & limited editions released within the first two years (2020-2022) (1 item)

  • November 2021 - Halo Infinite Official Bundle (Special Edition)

 

What the comparisons find

As outlined in the data above, the PS4 and Xbox One had a combined total of 27 bundles available for users to purchase. If we compare the same time frame for the Xbox Series X and PS5 there are just 3.

Within the first year of the PS4 and Xbox One’s release, both consoles had limited edition versions. These took the form of the Destiny PS4 and the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Xbox One respectively. Yet, as of August 2022, the PS5 has yet to release a special edition console. The Series X did release the Halo: Infinite limited edition that came out in November, which roughly fits the pattern that was established with the Xbox One. 

However, the overall lack of bundles on both sides is very unusual when compared to the last generation’s release cadence.

Official Bundle Comparison Graph (2 years since release)

 

Why there are so few official bundles

Stock availability has been a big hurdle in the distribution of the new generation consoles. Bundles are typically used in order to make the purchase of a console more enticing, but neither the PS5 nor the Xbox Series X has required aid in selling out. 

Until recently, it has been hard for customers to get their hands on a PS5 console.  The change has been due to the release of the PS5 Horizon Forbidden West bundle which has been in stock more frequently, often taking days to sell out rather than minutes. The RRP for this new bundle is £499.99 / $549.99, offering no real savings from buying the console and game separately. 

The stand-alone PS5 disc console retails £50 / $50 cheaper (£449.99 / $499.99) and is still proving very difficult to get hold of, therefore if you want a PS5 you're going to have to pay above RRP for the console including a game that potentially you might not even want.

For the previous generation of consoles, Microsoft and Sony would serve bundles as a deal for customers, essentially giving them the console and a game (or two) for free. However, we have yet to see an official bundle for the Xbox Series X or PS5 with any financial discount, exploiting the demand for their consoles.

The situation is made worse by retailers creating their own bundles. Several stores are further increasing prices by only selling the newest consoles with accessories such as headphones or additional controllers. This not only makes it even more expensive than it already is for a customer to purchase a new console but also has the secondary effect of keeping the bundled accessories at an inflated price in order to make the “deal” more enticing. With every party wanting a piece of the lucrative console market, all sides are willing to take advantage of the stock shortage, which ends up harming the consumer in an already difficult time.

To make matters worse… Sony announced a price increase on the 25th August for the PS5 console across a number of regions including the EU and UK, but we’ve yet to see the new price applied to existing stock across our partner retailers.  It will be interesting to monitor the price of bundles once the new pricing structure is applied.

How the lack of official bundles may affect special edition consoles

While it’s clear that the Xbox Series X will still have limited special editions, as we’ve seen with the Halo Infinite bundle, it can be presumed that the same may not be true for the PS5. It’s unusual that after almost two years on the market the PS5 doesn’t have a special edition version, and taking into account that the console’s faceplate is customisable, it’s possible that we may never see a special edition PS5 during the console’s lifespan. 

However, it’s good to remember that the original Xbox 360 also had swappable faceplates and still had limited special editions such as the Halo 3 launch edition console. Therefore it’s not a conclusive argument as to why the PS5 may never receive a special edition console.

Effects on the market

These are unprecedented times not just for consoles, but the gaming market as a whole. While the future is unclear, there are some assumptions that can be made as to how the limited selection of bundles may change the market as the year goes on:

  • It is safe to say that we will see more bundles for both consoles come out near Christmas. However, we may also see that as more bundles come out, acquiring a console by itself will get increasingly difficult.
  • Even though there will be more bundles to pick from, the lack of availability of the console by itself will lead to less choice than ever for the consumer. 
  • Microsoft and Sony are benefiting from the stock shortage, and because of this, we don’t expect a significant price drop for quite some time. 
  • While customers are still happy to pay whatever they need to in order to secure the console, the manufacturer will continue taking advantage of them.
  • For the foreseeable future, if a consumer wants to purchase a PS5 or Xbox Series X new, they will have no option but to buy it as part of a bundle at an unnecessarily high price.

Could Sony and Microsoft be doing more to help? Let us know your thoughts below...

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