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Dissecting Sony's PS3/Xbox 360 price comparison

Kyle Orland

Over at sister site Engadget, they've noticed that a recently released Sony fact sheet (relevant section pictured above) uses some pretty interesting math to make the Xbox 360 look more expensive than the PS3 once all the extras are added in. Let's go through their list and see what's valid and what's just obfuscation?

  • Console: Starting with the lower system prices is a little misleading right off, since a majority of PS3s and Xbox 360s are sold in the pricier premium packages. Still, I'm sure that $499 looks a lot better than $599 from Sony's point of view.
  • "Requires Users to Buy": This is misleading because none of the following items are actually required to, y'know, use the system. However, the items are required for 360 owners who want certain functionality that the PS3 has right out of the box. "Extras" or "Add-ons" might have been a better heading.
  • HDD (20GB): Yes, this does cost $100 if you buy the core 360, but upgrading to the premium SKU gets you the HDD and extras like a wireless controller, headset and component cables for the same price. Highly misleading.
  • HD-DVD drive: A fair comparison, but only if you want to play HD movies on your system, which is far from a valid assumption for all buyers.
  • Wireless controller: This is possibly the worst item, making it seems like the 360 doesn't come with a controller at all. Buying the core 360 and a $50 wireless controller actually gets you two controllers -- one wired, one wireless -- compared to the PS3's $0 for one wireless. And, as stated above, using the premium pack comparison would change this $50 to $0 for an apples-to-apples comparison.
  • Online Access/Xbox Live: Possibly the biggest argument in Sony's favor, the $50/year for full-featured Xbox Live balloons into even more over the life of the system (I'm surprised, in fact, that Sony didn't extend this cost to include a few years of service). However, the free silver subscription provides much of the functionality for free, making the comparison a little more complicated.
So is it fair to say that the 360 costs more, in the end, than the PS3? Yes and no. It really hinges on whether HD movies are important to you and whether or not you're willing to pay for online multiplayer. Regardless, implying that you need to spend close to $700 to use a 360 skirts dangerously close to the edge where creative marketing meets false advertising.

(Thanks to everyone who sent this in)

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