One of the biggest talking points after E3 has been the Xbox One X. Microsoft’s ‘mid-generation refresh’ of their Xbox One was first announced at the Xbox E3 Press Conference in 2016 under the system’s working title of Project Scorpio. It was this month though when we got to know the actual name, the cost, what the new system looks like, and what games look like when played on it. I think it’s fair to say the reception to the full details has been somewhat mixed. Once you remove the Sony Fanboys, who were always going to hate it, and the Xbox fanboys, who will never criticise any Xbox product (other than Kinect), you’re left with a group of impartial people who just don’t know enough about the product. Personally, I think that the Xbox One X is doomed to failure but will also be successful in some areas, let me explain.
Why it will fail
This might sound like hyperbole, however, by nearly every metric that can be used to gauge the success of a console, Xbox One X is doomed to failure. Here’s why . . .
- The console is too expensive compared to its competition, the PlayStation 4 Pro. At a $100 difference, it is fighting a losing battle in the public consciousness. Hardcore Xbox fans understand the higher price but 99% of the public just won’t. When a parent goes into a store to get a gaming system for their child, they’re either going to pick up an Xbox One S or the PS4 Pro before they get the Xbox One X. The console sales for this system are going to be incredibly low.
- There aren’t even going to be any exclusives for this new console. Every game for the Xbox One X will be playable on not only the original Xbox One and Xbox One S but first-party exclusives will also be playable on PC. This might attract people to the Xbox One ecosystem but will not sway people to splash out $500 on the Xbox One X.
- The other reason that the writing appears to be on the wall for Microsoft’s new console is that it’s being advertised as a ‘4K console’. While the sales of 4K-capable televisions have increased and they have become much more affordable, they’re still not the ‘norm’. Most people buying a new TV will pick up a 4K screen, but with a lack of Ultra HD content out there, people don’t see the point in being an early adopter and taking the plunge before the current TV dies.
How it will succeed
Microsoft is not stupid. They realise that this isn’t going to get the same kind of sales as a console of a new generation. I’m sure they have appropriate sales expectations for this system. Microsoft has other reasons for releasing the Xbox One X.
- The Xbox One has been dogged by complaints of a lack of power compared to the PlayStation 4. What’s more, Sony has been advertising the PlayStation 4 Pro as the most powerful console in the world. The Xbox One X changes that conversation. Sony will have to change their advertising and whenever anyone brings up a lack of power in the Xbox One, Microsoft can counter by talking about the massively more powerful Xbox One X.
- Xbox One is positioned as the place for 4K entertainment. The Xbox One S is a superb purchase for anyone looking to get a cheap Ultra HD Blu-Ray player. They can now draw more 4K adopters in by providing the only console that can truly offer 4K gaming.
- The new console is expensive, but it is a bargain. There is no way that you could build a PC to the same specifications as the Xbox One X for anywhere near $500. The quality of technology you are getting for that amount is impressive, add to that that it is in a very sleek, small package and you could easily argue it’s a bargain at that price point.
- It gets developers on side again. If developers were concerned about giving an exclusive to a system that they might think was dormant or on its way down, this revitalises the system and changes that thinking. It also makes developers want to show off their new titles on the system as it will be the best-looking console version of the game. A great example of this was the gameplay demo of BioWare’s new IP Anthem shown at the end of Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference.
Xbox One X is not going to be a best-selling console. It’s not going to bring the Xbox One up to the same sales figures as the PlayStation 4. The Xbox One S is still going to sell more units than the Xbox One X. Microsoft’s latest system may appear like a failure, but it will succeed in its goal. It changes the conversation about the power of the Xbox One. It provides a valid 4K option for console gamers. Microsoft know what they’re doing with the console, I just hope that everyone catches up to that vision.