[dropcap]M[/dropcap]icrosoft has announced a worldwide release date of 7 November for what the company said will be its smallest and most powerful videogame console ever, the Xbox One X.
The device, which will be priced at US$499 (R7 499 in South Africa, according to Microsoft’s Xbox.com website), is designed to work with a new generation of 4K television sets that offer greater picture quality as well as games that offer ever-more-realistic scenes of car races and fantasy worlds.
Microsoft made the announcement on Sunday at an event in Los Angeles before the start of Electronic Entertainment Expo this week (watch the full keynote here). The new console will also be compatible with older Xbox games and accessories.
Microsoft and rival Sony are trying to update their videogame machines more frequently to phase out the notion of upgrading once every seven years or so — the rate at which companies traditionally have released a new generation of consoles. Microsoft’s latest machine is designed for the high-end gamer who wants the best features and performance and who owns a TV capable of displaying the most advanced graphics.
“They are trying to attract people who want to be able to use the advanced features of TVs they’ve invested in,” said Brian Blau, an analyst at Gartner. “Not everyone will want that if they can get a good experience on the less-expensive console.”
Microsoft has previously stumbled by pricing an older Xbox too high. Initial sales for the Xbox One when it debuted in 2013 were hurt by the $499 price tag, and only picked up after the cost was cut. Sony faced similar issues in 2006 when it released the PlayStation 3, which cost $500 to $600.
“Price has played an important role in the launch success,” said Mike Vorhaus, president of consulting firm Frank N Magid Associates. “The guy with the less expensive box has done very well. I expect that will continue, absent some amazing paradigm shift.”
While console makers have failed to demonstrate demand for a machine that requires an investment of more than $400, Microsoft is hoping the strategy will appeal to the most dedicated gamers. That focus marks a continued shift back to its core gaming demographic, after the Redmond, Washington-based company was faulted by some for targeting the initial Xbox One at more of a general entertainment audience.
Microsoft showed off 42 games at the event, from the Egyptian-themed Assassin’s Creed Origins to the Forza Motorsport 7 racing game, which features a partnership with Porsche. — Reported by Christopher Palmeri and Dina Bass, (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP