The One X faces an uphill struggle out the gate.
E3 2017 is officially underway and many of the conferences have already come and gone. One of the first companies to kick things off was Microsoft, showcasing its Xbox One X (formerly Project Scorpio) with a bunch of first and third-party titles that made good use of all of the console’s power. As games flashed by our screens, however, there was something that fans were holding on for – the price. It was something that had been discussed and speculated on pretty much ever since the console was teased at E3 2016. Microsoft executives had suggested the console would have a premium price tag, but would also be priced comparatively to other home consoles leading up to the event, so when the $499 price tag was revealed, it wasn’t too much of a shock. It’s certainly on the high end of console pricing, but it wasn’t the most ridiculous price we’d seen before. Problem is, Microsoft still managed to shoot itself in the foot when it comes to the Xbox One X’s pricing.
Sure, the price might seem fair for all of that RAM and those teraflops you’re getting, but it’s weighing in at an extra $100 more than Sony’s PS4 Pro. While many will say that’s fair due to the extra horsepower you’re getting with the Xbox One X, and we’d be quick to agree, there’s one major issue that Microsoft seems to have overlooked. The average Joe who walks into a store looking for a 4K console isn’t going to a) notice the marginal differences between the Pro’s upscaled (and occasionally native) 4K resolution, and the Xbox One X’s ‘true 4K’ offering and b) want to pay an extra $100 for it. In fact, for the most part, it’s probably fair to say that very few people in general would notice the difference between upscaled and native 4K, and that puts Microsoft in a bit of a sticky situation.
Yes, you get the UHD Blu-Ray player, but aside from that, you’re not getting a whole lot more with the One X. While Forza Motorsport 7 leads the charge with a true 4K resolution at 60fps, it’s also already been revealed that Crackdown 3 will run at 4K 30fps on the One X. If Microsoft’s first-party studios aren’t consistently hitting 60fps on the One X at this early stage, considering the patchy and also very vague third-party support for the PS4 Pro so far – with studios utilizing the power to varying degrees – it’s highly unlikely that Microsoft’s “monster” is going to be offering up 4K 60fps across the board anytime soon.
What you’re left with are two systems that offer variations on 4K, varying framerates from studio to studio, a $100 price gap, and a UHD Blu-Ray player to show for it. Of course, until the Xbox One X is out and games begin releasing for it, we can’t be sure on just how much better games will perform on the One X in comparison to the PS4 Pro. But from the system’s official reveal, Microsoft has a pricey console whose power isn’t being fully utilized by developers. Or, at least, isn’t capable of offering a wholly different experience to the PS4 Pro across the board.
Compounding that, Microsoft currently doesn’t have the exclusives library to really get players excited about the Xbox One X. Cuphead, Crackdown 3, Forza Motorsport 7, and Sea of Thieves may have led the charge for Microsoft during its E3 2017 conference, but it’s a lineup that feels somewhat lackluster in comparison to Sony’s God of War, Day’s Gone, The Last of Us Part II, and Spider-Man, to name a few. Major exclusives are still few and far between on Microsoft’s system, and that’s not going to help them when it comes to persuading you to drop $500 on its sleek 4K system.
When the Xbox One X releases on Nov. 7 for $499, it’ll establish itself as the most powerful console in the world, but also the most expensive one on the market. It’s something that Sony has tried in the past with the PS3 coming in at $499 and $599 (depending on the storage option you decided on) and that had a real struggle when competing with the cheaper and slightly less powerful Xbox 360. It managed to bring it back around towards the end of its lifetime, but who knows whether the Pro and Xbox One X will stick around as long as the last generation did.
With a lackluster lineup of exclusives, too, Microsoft feels like it’s already given the Xbox One X an uphill struggle that it really could have done without. With Sony comfortably in the lead when it comes to console sales this generation, the Xbox One X doesn’t look like it’s going to help significantly close the gap anytime soon. Of course, this could all change when the system releases and brings its incredible power to the table, but the initial signs suggest this may not be the turning point of the generation that Microsoft was hoping for.