Microsoft is drawing criticism for fixing what isn’t broken.
Last weekend the company unveiled its newest console, the Xbox One X, which will ship on November 7. The gaming device is being marketed hyperbolically as “the world’s most powerful console.” And this thing is actually a beast, so it’s likely the truth: It boasts eight processors running at 2.3 GHz, 12 GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and 6 teraflops of graphics-processing power. The Xbox One X will outperform even high-end consumer computers, but one number could prove a liability: the suggested retail price of $500.
Microsoft has sold earlier generations of the Xbox for $500 before, but that price point included the motion-sensing Kinect gaming peripheral. This time, your $500 will just get you a new system for playing all the same Xbox games you already own. This is not a next-generation device that will make your old games obsolete; it’s a souped-up Xbox One being sold at a premium. Its supercharged capabilities only matter if you already own a 4K TV and hate staring at “loading” screens. Are people going to be willing to shell out big bucks for a slightly better Xbox One?
Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter had previously predicted the system would retail for $400, on par with Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro. He voiced his skepticism of the price tag in conversation with games journalist Geoff Keighley. Pachter says the $500 price suggests that the Xbox One X is a major evolution of the product — it’s not. A $400 price point would see people “tough it out and buy it,” and $300 would be “a home run.” But this isn’t the reality of the situation.
Pachter’s forecast for the Xbox X One isn’t flattering. He said he’d be “surprised” if the device can account for 20 percent of overall Xbox sales. The console’s 4K capability should be a large draw for Microsoft gamers who already own a compatible television, but this isn’t exactly a large market; only 10 percent of U.S. households have a 4K TV right now.
The future is of course unwritten, but Microsoft isn’t doing itself any favors. The company will sell a slightly better Xbox at a severe markup, and it may be enough to cause gamers to sniff around for less-expensive fun.