Later this year Sony will release its PlayStation 4 console for $399, but gamers will have to pay a bit more than that to get the most out of their console.
After the initial investment in the console gamers will have to buy games for their new PlayStation 4, controllers, and pay for services that were previously free on the PlayStation 3. Over time those expenses can add up to cost more than the console itself, though that shouldn’t surprise many gamers.
It’s hard to say exactly how long the PlayStation 4 will stay around as Sony’s video game console, so it’s difficult to say how much the console will cost throughout its life. For the purpose of determining the overall cost of the console we’ll see how much the PS4 could cost users over the first two years.
On top of the $399 PlayStation 4 gamers will have to build their library of games from scratch as the console has no backwards compatibility. There are some free-to-play games announced for the console, such as DC Universe Online and Planetside 2, but many gamers will also want to buy a few games.
Like PS3 games, games for the PS4 will cost gamers $60 apiece. One $60 game may last long time, but it’s hard to say exactly how many. Using a 2008 Gamasutra study as a reference point, many gamers will buy about seven games over the course of two years.
Seven disc-based games at $60 apiece will cost gamers a total of $420 over the course of two years. That’s just slightly more than the console itself.
Many of the games announced for the PlayStation 4, like Destiny and Watch Dogs, will blend single and multiplayer modes. On the PlayStation 4 gamers will have to pay for a PlayStation Plus subscription in order to play their games online.
The good news is that a PlayStation Plus subscription also gives gamers free games every month, including a special version of Drive Club at the system’s launch.
Sony offers two payment plans for PlayStation Plus: gamers can either pay every three months or once a year. The cheapest option is to pay $50 once a year, which brings the total cost of the subscription up to $100 for two years.
Playing online is great, but sometimes its more fun to play a game with a friend sitting next to you on the couch. To do so, gamers will need at least one extra DualShock 4 controller for their PlayStation 4. With it they’ll be able to play multiplayer games like Diablo 3 on their console.
Each additional controller for the PlayStation 4 will cost $60; the same price as a game.
Without any option accessories, the true cost of the PlayStation 4 comes out to $980, which is about $120 less than the cost of the Xbox One over two years.
There are several accessories that gamers may want to make their PlayStation 4 experience even better, however, which will increase the price.
The most obvious optional accessory for the PlayStation 4 is the PlayStation Vita, the handheld that Sony calls the “perfect companion” to the PS4. The PlayStation Vita will enable remote play on the PS4, which means gamers can stream PS4 games to their Vita as long as they’re on the same Wi-Fi network.
The PlayStation Vita also has its own library of games available, many of which support cross-buy or cross-play on the current PS3, which lets gamers buy a game once and play it on both consoles. It’s not clear if that feature will extend to the PlayStation 4
A PlayStation Vita currently sells for $250, which is somewhat expensive, but arguably worth the price for the hardware and its interesting features.
Like the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4 will have motion controls through a camera, though Sony’s solution is optional. Gamers who want to use the PlayStation Move on the PS4 will have to pay an extra $60 for the PlayStation Eye for the console.
Some may also want to invest in a new router for the PlayStation 4. The console doesn’t need an Internet connection, but does benefit from having one. Some may want a new router that will extend to a bedroom so their kids can use the console online, or they may just want to upgrade to an 802.11ac Wi-Fi network which the PS4 supports. A high-quality router can cost about $100, with routers that support the new, faster 802.11ac spec costing much more (Apple’s new Airport Extreme, for example, costs $299).
Finally, gamers may want to invest in a headset for the new PlayStation 4 for better sound and a more personal game experience. The console will come with a chat headset packed in, but that doesn’t provide virtual or actual surround sound like some headsets can. Headsets made for the PlayStation 3 may work with the PS4, but there’s no guarantee. A good gaming headset will cost gamers another $100.
In total, with all of the optional accessories the PlayStation 4 will cost at least $1,490 over the course of two years.