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Realistic PS3 and Xbox 360 Price Comparison |

All the price comparisons between the PS3 and the Xbox 360 that I’ve seen, and done, have only compared one or two configurations based on the capabilities of the respective systems. I thought I’d change things around this time, and do several price comparisons, based on what the owners’ priorities are.

I’m going to assume a couple things. One, because there’s a USB port on the PS3 and on the PS3 controller, and because Sony has said that this is the method used to charge the batteries in the controller, I’ll assume that a USB cable is included in the box. Sony wouldn’t ship a console with a controller that can’t be charged. That said, just in case, I looked up the price of a 6′ USB cable with a mini connector on one end, and found several for less than $5 at Amazon. So I’ll assume the cost of a USB/charger cable for the PS3 is negligible. Two. I’ll assume the price of the HD DVD add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360 is $200. Microsoft hasn’t announced the price yet, but $200 seems to be the going rate. As well, I will indicate which PS3 I chose or which Xbox 360 I chose solely by price. So be on your toes! ($600 and $500 for PS3, $400 and $300 for Xbox 360). I’ll assume that playing games will require the ability to save progress – either a memory card or HDD must be present to use the machine as a gaming machine. I don’t know if the PS3 will include a headset, and I couldn’t find the Microsoft one at Amazon, so I’ll assume a cost of $20.

Last, I’ll assume the following prices for the following peripherals, found at Amazon. I’m going to round to the nearest dollar, for my sanity’s sake.

Play and Charge Kit: $18.42 ($18)
64MB Xbox 360 Memory Unit: $39.92 ($40)
Xbox 360 Live 12 Month Gold Card: $49.82 ($50)
Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter: $99.92 ($100)
Sandisk 5-in-1 Memory Card Reader/Writer: $13.95 ($14)

Here are the configurations I chose. Please tell me if I missed any.

Configuration A – Equalization

First off, I’ll do the old standby: take a premium PS3 and a premium Xbox 360, and try to make them as similar as possible:

PS3: $600
Headset: $20

Xbox 360: $400
Play & Charge: $18
Xbox Live Gold: $50
Wireless: $100
Memory Card Reader: $14
HD DVD: $200

Sony: $620, Microsoft: $782

Advantage: Sony

Configuration B – HD Movie Watching

This configuration is for those people that are interested in watching HD movies. Because Microsoft doesn’t support HDMI, I will assume HDMI is not needed. Besides, it’s been shown that 1080i and 1080p are equivalent for the purposes of watching an HD movie, so HDMI is a non-issue for both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 until the ICT starts being used. When ICT starts being used, then HDMI will be required. Actually, I’ll do both scenarios.

B.1 Pre-ICT:

PS3: $500

Xbox 360: $300
HD DVD: $200

Sony: $500, Microsoft: $500


B.2 Post-ICT:

PS3: $600

Xbox 360: Can’t do it!

Sony: $600, Microsoft: Default

Advantage: Sony

Configuration C: Bare Minimum to Play Games

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll explain anyway. What’s the bare minimum you need to play games? What do you need to buy?

PS3: $500

Xbox 360: $300
Memory Card: $40

Sony: $500, Microsoft: $340

Advantage: Microsoft

Configuration D: Big Gamer

I choose the lower-end PS3 in this case because there’s no advantage for the high-end one when gaming. I chose the high-end Xbox 360 because of its HDD, which can be used to cache games, speeding up performance. Also required for Xbox Live.

PS3: $500
Headset: $20

Xbox 360: $400
Play & Charge: $18
Xbox Live Gold: $50

Sony: $520, Microsoft: $468

Advantage: Microsoft


So the results are two for Sony, two for Microsoft, and a tie. That makes it an all-around tie. For the Big Gamer configuration, the price difference is only $52. Microsoft’s real advantage is for the Bare Minimum Gameplayer. There the difference is $160. To be totally honest, I knew that the PS3 would fare well in this comparison article. I just didn’t realize how well it would fare. Only in one of the five cases does the Xbox 360 hold a clear advantage in price.


  • As honest as the comparison looks, you did forget to hold into account one big factor: microsoft is on the market for almost a year now with the xbox360. Before I always said, give them a year, no problemo for sony, but now, with the european delay, I’m not so sure. I can see that a lot of gamers and especially casual gamers switching over to the xbox 360, because it has been around longer, “everyone” has one and if not can get one.

    I’m not pro-micorosoft in any way. But if you look at the games, you must admit that they have a clear advantadge.

    Eventough the launch prizes of the ps3 aren’t so much more then that of xbox360, I think that the 1 year will give microsoft an edge and ps3 a minor hang over.

    I also believe that casual gamers look at their wallet closer then “real” gamers. You, me, and propbable everyone else visiting this site. We want the best equipment with the best lineup of games. My girlfriend is a casual gamer, she is happy with tetris, not really something you need a ps3 for (nor an xbox360). I know this is an exageration, but it does make my point.


  • Good points SL33PY, but I was making a price comparison, not a games comparison.

  • Pinsey

    Another thing that I find that quite a few people fail to take into account in these price comparisons is that prices are most likely going to have changed by the time the PS3 is released. Here in Europe, the Core 360 has already had one (albeit small) price cut, and with the PS3 not being released until March now (I’m assuming it makes that deadline) it wouldn’t surprise me to see Microsoft drop the price of their console further in anticipation.

    And one thing about movies, it’s not going to become clear either way which is better until we know more about the standards war that’ll have to be resolved between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. If Blu Ray wins then regardless of HDMI output, the 360 HD-DVD will be redunandant. But similarily if HD-DVD wins, then the BluRay drive will lose a lot of value. The main difference here of course being that the HD-DVD is optional in the 360, but BluRay is of course compulsory buying for the PS3. If Microsoft edges too far ahead in the console sales then we might find a similar thing happen as did with the PS2 boosting the switch to DVD, ie lots of people with 360 don’t want to but a BluRay drive when they can already play HD-DVD etc. If BluRay doesn’t get enough support it could eventually fade away in the same way as Betamax did. In that situation your price comparison for movies would be:

    360 $500 (for HDDVD playback)
    PS3 Can’t do it.

    Now of course I’m not saying this is going to happen, and I hope it doesn’t. I’m neither for MS or Sony, but I do think that currently Micrsoft look like they have the edge. From a purely price point of view with respect to the user’s priorities (as that was the point of the article) I think the fact that the 360 offers you the choice of what features/functionality you have makes it better proposition, rather than being forced to pay for things you may not want or need. At the end of the day, the main configuration that Sony has that wins over MS was if you buy everything (the premium packages). I can’t say I know many people who’s ‘priority’ is just to have everything possible, as your ‘Equalisation’ configuration depicts. However, I do know lots of people who want a good gaming machine when they buy a games console, and from that respect, the 360 comes out on top in the price war.

  • Thomas

    Hey Henning, guess what 🙂
    I’m buying a Wii as soon as it hits the shelves.

  • I hope you enjoy your Wii, Thomas!

    Pinsey: the Xbox 360 only has a clear price advantage when doing the bare minimum to play games. Is that the description of most gamers?

    Blu-ray is part of the PS3 package, sure. But nobody is forcing you to buy a PS3, so therefore nobody is forcing Blu-ray on anyone. If Blu-ray fails, then it comes just another proprietary disc format used by a games machine. If Sony were to then offer an HD DVD peripheral, I wouldn’t buy it. I’d just buy an HD DVD player. I personally don’t like the idea of adding a peripheral to my console to play HD movies. I want it built-in, or I’ll buy a separate player. The PS3 will be a great introduction to BD movies for me. But I’ll probably eventually buy a standalone BD player (or HD DVD player if HD DVD wins) because the PS3 is primarily a games machine in my eyes.

  • mng70

    I don’t believe Sony will offer an online service to rival XBL without charging a penny for it. This area hasn’t been taken in account. Plus, the price of next gen Blueray and HD-DVD players will have reduced by the time the PS3 is released in Europe.

    One thing that does bother me is why one would want to watch a next gen movie format on the X360 as it makes so much noise. Maybe the PS3 will be much quieter.

  • Although I didn’t mention the quality of Xbox Live versus Sony’s offering, I did think about it. Since we don’t know what Sony’s offering is, it would be hard at this point to try to say how much better Xbox Live really is. (Note that I’m assuming Xbox Live will be a better service. Likely, but not absolutely certain.) As well, online is not as important for some people as for others. Also, some people might want minimal online support, while others may want all sorts of goodies. All these things are very hard to put a dollar value to. And dollar value is what this article is really about. Discussing the relative strengths of one online service versus another is really another topic.

  • coolbreeze06

    Good news…Now lets see if the online model will work. I hope so. I don’t think it will kill “live” hopefully it will just match the services.

  • Caleb

    I think the hardest decisions will be for the hardcore gamers; those of us probably reading this site. We have HDTVs, we want the best system we can get; but at the same time, we want to play both MGS4, Gears of War, KH, and Halo3. Pricepoints are probably not that much of an issue for the hardcore gamers.

    Where it does matter is with the mainstream gamers. They will go for the cheapest next-gen option that is available at Christmas time and has Madden 200X.

  • Darth Pixel

    I spent more than $2000 on my HDTV.
    More than $500 on my A/V Receiver.
    More than $600 on my speaker set.

    I think PS3 is a great deal, considering I am very interested in watching Blu-ray movies.

  • Scott

    A hard drive is not required for Xbox Live.

  • matt

    Darth Pixel, good points.

    I spent $2000 on my HDTV
    $600 for my Receiver (which I need to upgrade)
    $4000+ on my speakers (which I need to upgrade)
    And well over $10,000 on my Game, CD and DVD collection.

    We are the people who will buy all 3 systems if the games are there. I plan on buying the PS3 at some point, but right now the 360 is better than I thought and I couldn’t be happier. Upgrading my speakers and receiver is much more important right now than a PS3.

  • hotcarl

    Great Job,

    I think you separated the possible configurations quite well. When comparing Config A however there are a few more points worth mentioning

    “Configuration A – Equalization

    First off, I’ll do the old standby: take a premium PS3 and a premium Xbox 360, and try to make them as similar as possible:

    PS3: $600
    Headset: $20

    Xbox 360: $400
    Play & Charge: $18
    Xbox Live Gold: $50 (This is only for 12 months)
    Wireless: $100
    Memory Card Reader: $14
    HD DVD: $200 (According to “retail sources” the HD-DVD addon could cost closer to $300-370 (US))

    Sony: $620, Microsoft: $782

    Advantage: Sony”

    So assuming you want an Xbox 360 to do everything a PS3 can do (and vixe versa), and assuming PS3 has an online service comparable to Xbox Live for $0 it would look more like this.

    PS3: $600
    Headset: $20
    Playstation Network: $0

    Xbox 360 Premium: $400
    Play and Charge Kit: $18
    Xbox Live Gold: $250 ($50 x Expected 5 years of use.)
    Wireless: $100
    Memory Card Reader: $14 (or more depending on what you actually buy)
    HD-DVD Addon: $200-370 (no price has been officially announced and I’ve heard rumors up to $500 but I see that as unlikely so I’ll use this range)

    Total =
    PS3: $620
    Xbox 360: $982-1152+

    Using this model, even without an HD-DVD Add-on, The price of the 360 would be $768.
    And, the PS3 still has an advantage by haing Next-gen Optical storage FOR GAMES and 3 times the hardrive space. Not to mention HDMI or Bluetooth.

    Basicly my point here is that while the 360 Certainly has it’s place(as pointed out in the other configurations) There would Never be any point in Spending that ammount of money to make it into a PS3. Especially Since Atleast $582 (on top of thePremium $360) would need to be spent on it to accomplish this task. (why not drop an extra $18 and just get a PS3 as well.) Not to mention the fact that even with say a memory card reader the 360 could not take advantage of it in the same way a PS3 can (I.E. Game Save Data.)

    The PS3 and the 360 are not equals. They both have their Pros (PS3 does it all, Xbox 360 is noticebly cheaper while still doing alot.) and Cons (No “bargain basement” version only good, and better for the PS3, and the Xbox has no Luxury version, and cannot be upgraded to include many of the PS3’s features (Blue-ray for games, Bluetooth, HDMI.)

    Wow, that got long-winded.

  • Darrin

    Very nice. Except one option is missing from “Configuration C: Bare Minimum to Play Games”

    PS2 Slim-line: $130
    Sony 8MB Memory Card: $25
    Online Gaming: $0
    Total: $155

    By my count, PS2 has the best game lineup of any console this holiday, so I wouldn’t leave them off the list just yet.

  • hotcarl

    Also, Kotaku has a Similar article (not as indepth, but the same idea) up. Here

    Itcludes this staement… to potentially confirm the inclusion of of the usb cable for charging PS3 controllers.

    “Update: I was able to confirmwith Sony that the PS3 does indeed come with one controller that is recharged via an incuded USB cable and that the PS3’s online basic services will be offered to PS3 users free of charge. Changes made to reflect that, thought I’m still having to guess on the PS3 controller and HD-DVD costs.”


  • hotcarl