Microsoft Are Finally Ready To Compete
We love price cuts here at Dealspwn.com, and Microsoft dropped the hammer on an absolute doozy yesterday. From February 28th, the Xbox One will cost £399.99 in British stores, with Titanfall thrown in as a free sweetener while stocks last.
As you'd expect, the reaction has been wildly mixed. Pundits and fence-sitters are unsurprisingly overjoyed by the news, but many early adopters are outraged after paying £429.99 a matter of months ago, while some international gamers object to the fact that the price cut is a UK-only affair. Perhaps more importantly, early price cuts are historically seen an admission of outright failure, typically throwing the spotlight on a console that's struggling to perform. A move born of desperation, perhaps, not goodwill.
We, however, believe that this was nothing less than a stroke of genius, regardless of Microsoft's motives and where you stand.
In raw financial terms, the Xbox One's new price point makes more sense than the original RRP ever did. £429.99 was just too expensive, pushing the console over the £300/£400 price bracket that deterred many gamers from taking the plunge on the new platform. More to the point, compared to buying the demonstrably more technically proficient PS4 at £349, it felt a bit like a mug's game, despite the stronger and more diverse launch lineup. Something had to give. And it has.
The Titanfall bundle throws a delightful extra spanner into the works. Consider this: a stock PS4 and a major title will set you back around £360-£399... but an Xbox One and its most anticipated game costs much the same, AND includes Kinect into the bargain (whereas the PlayStation Camera requires an extra £50 outlay). In terms of reducing the price gap, Microsoft are onto an absolute winner.
For early adopters, though, the price cut is a bit of a slap to the face. How could it not be? After shelling out £430 a matter of months ago, loyal customers get to watch Johnny-Come-Lately waltz in and save £30, then receive an extra reward for their tardiness in the form of a free copy of Titanfall. A game that many pre-Christmas buyers already pre-ordered at a premium.
"Entitlement" be damned: this is going to sting. We saw much the same with the 3DS, which admittedly lowered its price by significantly more than £30 a few months after launch, but at least attempted to placate its early adopters with a slew of free games. Microsoft don't plan to retroactively hand out free copies of Titanfall, but we reckon that some sort of token gesture is probably in order. Even if it's only a digital game, an Xbox Live Gold extension or £10 store credit to get people onto the Xbox Live marketplace.
Ultimately, though, this is how consumer electronics works, and we all knew the risks. Whether a brand new disc format, television or smartphone, you have the choice of paying more to be first -- enjoying your new gadget for several months before anyone else -- or holding out for a discount.
Oh, and if you're a disgruntled US reader, remember that us Brits don't have access to OneGuide and still end up paying more due to the exchange rate. £100 more to be exact, compared to the $499 American RRP. Stop moaning.
As a general rule, console manufacturers don't slash prices if their wares are flying off the shelves, which brings us neatly onto the somewhat more controversial motives behind the price cut itself. Put simply, though the Xbox One is selling faster than the Xbox 360 during its honeymoon period, it's massively underperforming relative to the PS4.
The latest figures suggest that Sony's machine is outselling the Xbox One by a factor of 2:1 (due mainly to an exceptional marketing campaign and the attractive price point), a fact that they're sure to crow about in their full-year financial report come April/May. With the same deadline fast looming, Microsoft will be desperate to ensure a massive sales boost to show to their shareholders and the media - so it's no coincidence that the price cut comes a clear month before the end of the financial year. Every little helps, and the stockholders will be looking at the new platform with a critical eye.
Is it an admission of failure? Of desperation, perhaps? Well... yes, I suppose it is, but it's also much more than that.
The price cut is nothing less than a statement of intent, in that Microsoft are finally willing to compete. As opposed to rolling out an incredibly expensive console, sitting back and telling gamers what they want, they've realised that the only way to go up against a cheaper and more powerful machine is to drop the price, throw in incentives and then let the games do the talking. As the audience swells, they've got a fascinating palette of exclusives to look forward to, from Titanfall to Project Spark, D4, Quantum Break, Super Time Force, Kinect Sports Rivals and all the multiplatform titles to boot.
Following some experiments into cheaper games pricing and first-party bundles, hopefully we're seeing the birth of a new, hungry Microsoft who are willing to do everything it takes to make the Xbox One a success. This price cut, as it stands, is a stroke of utter genius.
So, dear reader, it's time to tell us where you stand. Are you more likely to buy an Xbox One now? Have you pre-ordered a Titanfall bundle? Are you worried about the state of the console, annoyed that you paid over the odds or more than happy with the state of affairs? Let us know in the comments!