A leak earlier this week, forced Microsoft to officially unveil both its Xbox Series S budget console, and the pricing for both of its devices before Sony did. Thus, they the delivered the first strike in what is sure to be an strategic pricing battle that will shape both brand’s fortunes over the next few years.
Microsoft is being aggressive in its pricing. While the Xbox Series X’s price point had always floated around the $499-$599 range, Microsoft confirming the lower of the figures this week ($499), demonstrates that they are willing to take a loss early on the hardware in order to position it favorably on the market.
Perhaps, even more surprising is the Xbox Series S’ low price point of $299. Microsoft’s next-gen entry level Xbox puts the brand in an interesting position. The machine shares the same CPU, GPU architecture and SSD drive with its more expensive brother.
The Series S, manages to come in at $200 dollars less than the Series X, because it’s GPU is nearly 3 times less powerful, The SSD only has 512GB of space, and it doesn’t have an UHD disc drive (it is an all digital device).
Still, both machines have what can be considered as very generous price points. The Xbox One X can still be found at $499 on stores, Microsoft is taking a hit here, but one that they can take, as the company has enough money to easily sustain itself, in spite of financial losses on its hardware.
Sony Has to Be Smart
Microsoft took the novel approach of delivering two vastly different console configurations right a launch. Sony, however, is taking a similar approach to the one taken by the company during the PlayStation 3 days. The company is offering two configurations of the same console, with the difference being that one PS5 is has no disc drive, while the other does.
The fact that Sony went through the trouble of offering two different PS5 models, suggest that the premium version of the system might have been priced at $599, as the SSD drive that it is utilizing is cutting edge, and the controller has a bunch of new features previously absent in game controllers.
But in my opinion, by offering two next generation consoles at $299, and $499 Microsoft might have pushed Sony into a corner here. I cannot fathom a $599 PS5, accompanied by a “cheaper” $499 model at this point. Such a pricing strategy by Sony would only help Microsoft, despite the fact that the Xbox Series S/X is not expected to outsell the PS5.
So, the guess here now is that Sony will be bold itself, and it will announce a premium $499 PS5, and a budget $399 Digital only version of the system.
Which would paint an interesting picture for Microsoft. Both brands have their hardcore bases, the type of customers that will buy a PS5, or an Xbox Series X no matter what, just because they are Xbox Fans, or Sony fans.
But then, there is the informed customer that will be swayed to one side, or to another based on pricing, exclusive titles, and services. These are the customers that flocked to Sony over the past 7 years, and the customer that Sony is hoping to catch again with the PlayStation 5.
This is the type of customer that might think that the Xbox Series S might not be worth investing into, if Sony is offering a more powerful (4k system) for only $100 dollars more in its PS5 all digital version.
While this could be bad for Microsoft, there is also a potential silver lining for the company. Some scouting on gaming forums, hints at the start of a new trend that might benefit the Xbox brand over the long haul.
Thanks to the Series S low price point, it is possible that a large segment of costumers could, for $699, acquire both a PS5, and an Xbox Series S. I have seen quite a few gamers pondering this, and in this case Microsoft could potentially shorten the expected sales gap with Sony, by offering the Series S, as the perfect companionship console.
We have to remember that Microsoft’s ultimate objective is to Push Xbox’s Ultimate Game Pass service to customers, and the Xbox Series S could be the perfect vehicle for that.
The upcoming console generation is shaping to be unlike any other, and here that Never Ending Realm we will keep you posted daily, as new developments arise.