Microsoft Announces Xbox Series X Launch Price: $499

Microsoft finally announced the launch price of its highly anticipated Xbox Series X console. The new gaming console will cost $499. Earlier this week, a $299 launch price for the lower priced and spec’d Xbox Series S was confirmed by Microsoft after a massive leak on social media.

This puts considerable pressure on Sony to reveal the pricing of their forthcoming PlayStation 5 console. Both the Xbox Series X and PS5 will be released in November, but so far only Microsoft has given a firm date (November 10th) and price ($499). Piers Harding-Rolls from Ampere Analysis told the BBC that “This is aggressive pricing for the technology that’s included in the Series X. And Microsoft must feel confident about the offer in deciding to go first.”

When Sony launched the PS4 in 2013, it undercut Microsoft’s Xbox One price by $100. This was widely seen as giving Sony an advantage and along with Microsoft’s early focus on multimedia instead of gaming, Sony took the sales lead and never let up. In fact, more than twice as many PS4s have been sold than Xbox One’s so far.

Microsoft has shifted some focus away from the traditional “generations” paradigm of consoles, by stating that it will support current Xbox One models for the next two years. Releasing both $299 and a $499 versions of the “Xbox Series” puts it in a unique position. Instead of an abrupt halt to support of current-generation Xboxes, games (including the highly anticipated Halo: Infinite) and online services will continue for the time being.

It is believed by industry analysts that Sony is not in a financial position to be a loss-leader by undercutting Microsoft’s price point. Microsoft can afford to take a loss on each Xbox sold because of the revenue generated by its subscription-based Game Pass service, which will also now include EA Play for free. Sony isn’t in nearly the financial shape of Microsoft and also depends on its PlayStation division for much more revenue than Microsoft relies on its Xbox division.

Microsoft is also beating Sony at some of the specs as far as the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 go, with most notably a faster GPU. However, Sony is betting big on its custom SSD drive, which the company has touted as a game-changer. Real-life performance comparisons between the two remain to be seen.

The Xbox Series X still faces an uphill battle this holiday season, with the Coronavirus pandemic possibly dampening consumer demand for an expensive, new console, and potential supply issues. Microsoft’s flagship game franchise, Halo, has also faced setbacks and Halo: Infinite will not be released until sometime next year.

While Microsoft has been quick to downplay comparisons between the Xbox Series consoles and the PlayStation 5 for exclusive games, so far the company lacks a “killer app” like the original Halo: CE was for the original XBOX released in 2001. A new Forza title is coming and possibly Microsoft Flight Simulator but a new Gears of War game is still a ways off.

With the $299 and $499 price points, Microsoft is still in the game this holiday season but that may not be enough to dampen the massive success Sony has had until now.

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