There’s a new Digital Foundry breakdown of the power of the Xbox Series X, and it’s gotten some people thinking about a price point that previously has felt unfathomable for a next-gen console:
I too was “all in” on a shared $500 price point for both the PS5 and Series X, but given the sheer amount of power Microsoft has crammed into the Series X, $600 does not seem out of the question for the package, given that otherwise, Microsoft may take too great of a loss on the unit. Combine that with rumblings about $600 at least showing up as the placeholder price for the Series X in some retail stores, and it doesn’t feel impossible.
My main concern is not really the “value” here. I fully believe that yes, you are probably getting more than your money’s worth of tech for $600 compared to similar specs you might find in a gaming PC, where $600 is nothing in that space. And yet in console land, the last time a console was priced at $600 it was the PS3, which launched disastrously because of it. And the last time Xbox “overpriced” at $500 for the One to Sony’s $400 PS4, it set it back so far it never caught up.
The difference this time around is that yes, Xbox Series X would have the power edge, so a potentially higher price than the PS5 (if that is indeed $500) would be more justified. Xbox Series X will also launch alongside the yet-to-be-announced-but-it’s-real-we-promise Xbox Series S, a lower spec version of the console which will probably undercut the PS5 price, but I would guess it doesn’t go below $400.
I…am just not comfortable with Xbox Series X pricing at $600 both in this current market, and after this past generation.
Analysts have already predicting that this holiday, PS5 will retain its 2:1 sale lead over Xbox Series X the way PS4 has over Xbox One this whole generation. But that was before the delay of Halo Infinite, and it’s without considering that Series X could come priced in at $600.
I understand that Series X is a hugely powerful console, but so is the PS5, and unless Xbox can throw up a side-by-side showing exactly how much better Cyberpunk or Assassin’s Creed or something looks or runs on Series X over PS5, I just don’t think they have much of a case to justify a higher price. The Halo Infinite delay only makes the launch situation worse, and so they can even less afford missteps due to price on top of that.
The Series S only makes things more complicated in my eyes. We still don’t know exactly how the console will perform, but if Microsoft’s rationale is “well if you don’t want massive power, spend less for the Series S,” that seems like it will lead to a whole bunch of people buying PS5s and Series Ss, with far fewer Series Xs sold, and the ones that did pick Microsoft in that situation are now getting a worse performing console than Sony’s. This is why I’ve never really understood the purpose of launching a “good and bad” console side by side in a new generation, as both come with massive tradeoffs (price versus performance) while Sony only has one main choice (discs versus digital) with no performance trades and a smaller price gap (and the cheaper console doesn’t lose anything except disc resale potential).
I think it will be a mistake if Series X is priced at $600. I think to have a prayer at launching not even on par with Sony, but to be competitive with Sony, they have to price match. We should know more next month, once these two companies finally agree to reveal their prices to the public.