High Price Undercuts Microsoft’s Xbox One X Mic Drop

Microsoft on Tuesday released its long-anticipated and much-hyped Xbox One X console, promising to push the boundaries of modern gaming and video entertainment.

The Xbox One X is the most powerful console in the world, with up to 40 percent more power than existing devices on the market, the company claimed.

“We built Xbox One X to give some creators the most powerful platform to bring their visions to life, and to give gamers the best console to play the games of the past, present and future,” said Phil Spencer, head of gaming at Microsoft.

Xbox One X gamers can choose from 1,300 gaming titles — the largest lineup in company history, he said. That includes more than 220 exclusives, such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, which will launch on Dec. 12.

Microsoft released 50 enhanced titles on Tuesday, including Forza Motorsport 7, Super Lucky’s Tale, Assassin’s Creed Origins and Fifa 18. Additional enhanced titles will become available as launch week progresses.

Microsoft pulled out all the stops to hype the console around the world, hosting Xbox Live sessions on Mixer with celebrity gaming enthusiasts ranging from DJ Khaled to James Corden and Chris Evans. Actor and WWE legend Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson even presented custom consoles to three Make-A-Wish kids prior to the launch.

Fans waited in line for up to 24 hours at the Microsoft Store in New York to get their hands on the console. Celebrities ranging from Shaquille O’Neal to MMA superstar Ronda Rousey and Giants star Odell Beckham Jr. greeted fans during surprise drop-ins.

Back in the Game

The Xbox One X should fill Microsoft’s need to regain legitimacy among early adopter, core console gamers who are very sensitive to graphical fidelity and content frame rates, according to an IHS Markit report.

The high-end specs will enable Microsoft to gain market share against rival PS4 Pro in the critical U.S. and UK markets, while helping to mitigate the slide in Xbox One S hardware sales down ballot, said report author Piers Harding Rolls, head of games research at IHS Markit.

Based on pre-order volume for the Project Scorpio Xbox One X, he therefore has raised his 2017 forecast from sales of 500,000 units to 900,000 units.

“Part of what is fun for Christmas is giving something that is somewhat exclusive, and the timing of the Xbox One X lends itself better to that than the other consoles from the other vendors,” suggested Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“It mostly rolls against the Sony PlayStation Pro, as the Nintendo really plays to a very different set of needs,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Once the Xbox One X is upgraded with virtual reality capabilities, demand for the console should surge, Enderle said. However, he did lament the quality of 4K HDR gaming content, saying it needs to improve.

Forza Horizon 3 is on his short list of must-haves, he said.

For Microsoft, the launch of the Xbox One X is not so much about short-term impact as making sure the company is ready for the next wave of home entertainment, observed Lewis Ward, research director for gaming and VR/AR at IDC.

“I think they’re really future-proofing the Xbox One brand against the rise of 4K gaming and 4K video,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Penetration of 4K television is less than 10 percent of households around the world, Ward noted, and the Xbox One X is Microsoft’s way of preparing itself for a future when more homes will have 4K as a standard for watching television and enjoying other forms of entertainment.

Awash in Wealth

Despite is high-end specs, there appears to be one glaring concern that critics have regarding the Xbox One X: At US$499.00, its price point is well above that of the competition. The PS4 Pro sells for $399 at Amazon and other retailers.

The Xbox One X is the best on the market to play multiplatform games, according to Polygon, but it withheld its recommendation due to the lack of content and the high sticker price.

Buyers might want to stick to the Xbox One S, suggested TechRadar, which noted that the number of buyers who might enjoy the Xbox One X graphics is too limited to justify the high price tag.

Microsoft defended the expense by pointing out the high-end technology required for true 4K performance.

“We believe the next milestone in console gaming is around true 4K gaming and high-fidelity graphics, which require six teraflops of graphic processing power,” the company said in a statement provided to TechNewsWorld by spokesperson Dominique Taylor.

The Xbox One X benefits from the highest level of craftsmanship ever put into a gaming console, with features like Vapor Chamber cooling, which is used to make sure graphics cards don’t overheat during extended use in laptops.

The XBox One X console is a five-year device, said Ted Pollak, senior gaming analyst at Jon Peddie Research.

Consumers would shell out much less for a gaming computer or high-end 4K television than they’d have to spend to own an Xbox One X, he told TechNewsWorld.

“A 4K-optimized console is totally logical for Microsoft to sell,” Pollak said. “Sales of it can’t be judged just on this holiday season.”

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

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