Xbox Series X
With Microsoft as one of the last companies doing an old-fashioned big stage show at E3 this year, it stands to reason that they are probably going to save the reveal of the price of the Xbox Series X until then. It’s par for the course based on past console generations, and I’m not expecting that to change. But I think I know what the price is going to be all the same.
Sony is reportedly waiting for Microsoft to “go first,” so they can match or undercut the Xbox Series X with the PS5 price, and I have a feeling Microsoft doesn’t really care and they probably will end up going first at E3 with Sony doing its own, separate reveal shortly after.
It’s $500. I am almost positive the Xbox Series X is going to be $500. It just makes sense.
The Xbox Series X, according the specs we’ve seen, is going to be a monster in terms of overall power. Yes, I can fully believe there is at least $600 worth of tech inside it where that price point would be justified. And yet it is hard to imagine Microsoft, despite its proclamations about not wanting to fight in any more console wars, would price it that high.
If that price point sounds familiar it’s because the PS3 launched at $600 back in 2006, which was something of a disaster. Yes, due to inflation, $600 in 2006 is more like $780 today, but as you may have noticed from video games staying at $60 for the last two decades, this is not an industry that particularly cares about inflation, and if it’s making up those losses, it’s doing it in some other way, via subscription services, microtransactions, etc. In short, no, after the $400 PS4 trounced the $500 Xbox One back in 2013, I do not think Microsoft is going to roll out a $600 Series X, even if other rumors pan out and it releases a “reduced spec” version later.
Xbox Series X
You may ask why Microsoft would price at $500 when that’s what bit them last time. Well, the significant difference this time around is that if Sony does price at $400 again, at least the $100 price difference can be sold as the Xbox Series X being more powerful (again, based on what we know). Whether it’s 25% more powerful, as that price would indicate, is another matter, but at least the price difference this time would not be because of an albatross like Kinect, which was the major contributing factor to the Xbox One’s launch price.
In addition to this, Microsoft has already established $500 as a price point for the “most powerful, currently available” console when they launched the Xbox One X at that price. That’s since been knocked down to around $350 most places you shop, but at the time, that was a price point that seemed to make sense for the powerful upgrade. So for a fully new generation that pushes the power envelope even further (a lot further)? That price point is probably going to receive the same amount of pushback as the Xbox One X, which is to say, not very much at all. There’s a big difference between a $500 bundled with Kinect, less powerful than PS4 or Xbox One, and a $500 Xbox One X that dwarfs everything else on the market. And I think the same could be true for the Series X.
This is as low as I can see Microsoft going. Even if they secretly do want to blow away Sony with Xbox Series X sales, despite what they say, it is pretty hard to see them dipping all the way down to $400-450 given what the unit is capable of. I think they can be fine with losing the console sales race (again) so long as they’re doing it for the right reasons (focusing on tons of power) and making money in other ways (Gold, Game Pass). Sony, meanwhile, might take the hit and price that low to try to rack up huge sales again, though I would also not rule out them being content to match the Series X at $500 this time either. But I guess we’ll see, more on their strategy later.
It is hard for me to see a price point other than $500 for the Series X based on all the reasons I mentioned. If it’s higher, I think that’s a big risk. If it’s lower, more power to Microsoft and I certainly won’t complain. But we may be speculating about all this until June, so buckle in.