I've never seen a price war like this before.
Sure, console manufacturers and retailers tend to sling together a few bundles ahead of Christmas and Black Friday, but usually it's a token effort intended to make the most money from put-upon parents, Christmas presents and stocking fillers before the big January sales. Often we even see prices go up to grab as much Christmas cash as possible, and false savings instead of real discounts.
Now, however, Microsoft has broken the rules and started a console bundle price war of monstrous proportions, where there's only likely to be one winner.
See, Phil Spencer's Xbox division has been engaged in a ruthless and desperate campaign of revisions, U-turns and scorched-earth decisions over the last few months, in an effort to repair Don Mattrick's horrible brand sabotage. Removing Kinect may have been nothing short of brutal battlefield triage, but it allowed them to slash the RRP down to undercut the PS4, then throw the leaner and lighter console into a whole host of exceptional bundles in order to make the most of its excellent Christmas exclusives. Naturally retailers got in on the action, then started competing with each other.
To devastating effect. In just one week, we've seen some of the most impressive console deals ever.
You can get an Xbox One, COD: Advanced Warfare, Sunset Overdrive and Forza 5 GOTY for £349.99 at Amazon. How about a console with a Windows 8 tablet and Forza 5 for £349.99. Or a Halo Master Chief Collection and FIFA 15 Xbox One bundle for £339.99 (which was further discounted to £319 at one point!). Still too much? How about an Xbox One with FIFA 15 AND Forza V for only £329.85, or an Xbox One with PES 2015 for £299!
Culmanating in this ridiculous Xbox One console bundle with five triple-A games for under £400. Not bad considering that we paid £429 one year ago!
Sony are old hands at price wars, though, and the confident PS4 has margins to spare. Naturally retailers were quick to get in on the action. A PS4 with GTA V and Far Cry 4 will set you back £359.99 at Argos, or a white PS4 solus for £299.97. ShopTo were quick to match the big fat Xbox One AAA bundle with a Sony alternative, including a PS4 with COD: Advanced Warfare, Minecraft, Battlefield 4, MGS V: Ground Zeroes & Wolfenstein for £399.85.
Again, not bad to say the least, seeing as the recommended price is still £349.99 and it isn't even Black Friday yet! We've rarely seen prices fall this fast, so soon, and never in such drastic pre-Christmas fashion.
It's clear that both consoles are doing their best to get their feet in the door early, to create as big a user base as possible as early as they can. Sony deservedly romped ahead last year due to their spectacular pricing, great communication and Don Mattrick's shocking mistakes, but the newly revitalised Microsoft is bouncing back and hitting hard in the only way they can: big exclusives and value.
Whereas we usually get caught in the crossfire between publishers and console manufacturers, this time we just get to reap the rewards.
Six months ago we suggested buying neither console in order to wait for better deals and better games. The story is very different now, but whether you decide to get in on the action, hold out until Black Friday or wait until the games you want are have all been released and reviewed, it's nice to see the system working for us for a change.
In no particular order, we need to give thanks and full credit to theg, preparationiskey, oUkTuRkEyIII and Jabbypans @ HUKD!