In an interesting reversal of what happened last generation, Microsoft's Xbox One launched at a $100 price premium to Sony's PlayStation 4. Despite Sony building the higher performing console, Microsoft's Xbox One actually had a higher silicon budget (thanks to eSRAM increasing the SoC's total die area). It was ultimately the bundling of Microsoft's Kinect that forced the Xbox One to launch at $499 instead of $399. Committed to making the Xbox One more than just a game console, Microsoft seemingly hoped Kinect would be a non-negotiable part of the Xbox experience. That all changes in early June however.

Microsoft just announced a $399 version of the Xbox One, without Kinect, available starting June 9th. The console hardware appears unchanged, it'll just be sold without Kinect. Microsoft will offer a standalone Kinect option later this fall. Also in June Microsoft will begin offering its Games with Gold Xbox Live program to Xbox One owners as well. Any Xbox One user with a Gold Xbox Live subscription will get access to free games every month (similar to the program already available for Xbox 360 owners, a single subscription will give you access to Games with Gold on both platforms).

Putting the Xbox One at price parity with the PS4 makes a lot of sense, and should help Microsoft in the near term. The real question is whether $100 is enough to move users over to the Xbox One or if the market views the PS4's spec/performance advantage as being more valuable than the Xbox ecosystem. 

The real tragedy in all of this is that both Microsoft and Sony appear to have hedged their bets a little too much with the Xbox One/PS4. I get the feeling that neither company felt the market for ultra high end consoles was all that solid to begin with, and instead aimed lower on the performance ladder than they did last round (relatively speaking). It's a bit of a self fulling prophecy at this point. Going more conservative with performance due to a fear of a market going away is a great way to ensure that the market is open for a higher performing alternative (read: Steambox, PCs) to come in and steal users away. 

In speaking with NVIDIA prior to the Tegra K1 launch their viewpoint is that the clock is ticking for when mobile SoCs can equal the performance of the new consoles. I'm sure the other mobile players are focused on the same thing. We'll likely see Xbox 360-ish performance out of mobile silicon in the next 12 months. Add another few generations (and process nodes) and we'll be a lot closer to Xbox One/PS4 performance. We're already pretty close on the CPU side.

Source: Xbox Wire

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  • csroc - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    Disappointing. Any hope for there to be a major push for software to use this will likely die with a fragmented hardware base.

    MS made a lot of missteps with the XBone but all the 180s are more disappointing to me than anything else.
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    Considering how the Xbox One was already a just a fragment of the gaming market as a whole (PC, PS4, mobile being the far bigger fragments), I don't see how that changes anything much.
  • csroc - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    It mattered because at least if you were developing for the XBone and wanted to take advantage of the Kinect you knew everyone had it, so it might be worth trying. Now you won't have that guarantee so why bother taking that risk?
  • anandreader106 - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    Death666Angel is correct. When developing a game across multiple platforms, it doesn't matter that every XB1 has Kinect because not every platform has a camera. Therefore, there's no real incentive to spend time on Kinect features that only benefit one system.

    csroc - You also make an interesting statement that I've always taken issue with:

    "It mattered because at least if you were developing for the XBone and wanted to take advantage of the Kinect you knew everyone had it, so it might be worth trying."

    Even if a developer was making an exclusive, they had the OPTION to develop for Kinect. They didn't have to. Even if a developer did make something for Kinect, it doesn't mean it was going to be a good implementation or fun. (I'm looking at you Ghost Recon Future Soldier!)

    The consumer should have the option to purchase a Kinect camera just like a developer has the option to make use of it.
  • mrfunjitsu - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    Agreed. Developers of cross platform games want to develop once and move on. They don't want to create unique experiences for every platform (much as we'd like that not to be the case). That is the reason accessories have poor take up. The only common denominator across all the platforms is the gamepad.
  • csroc - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    I should add, if there would ever be a killer Kinect app, having it on all the consoles would increase the chances of that coming to be.
  • Guspaz - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    Worse than that, Microsoft controls three of the currently available gaming platforms (PC/360/XB1).

    To be honest, the XBox should never have existed in the first place as a standalone platform. They should have made the first XBox live up to its name as the "DirectX Box" and used the same operating system (Windows), similar to what Valve is doing with their Steam Machines (which are just gaming-optimized PCs running desktop Linux).

    They're starting to move a bit more that way, at least, with support for running Windows apps on the XB1, but few people really use Windows "apps" in the sense Microsoft means (from the Windows Store).
  • Hrel - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

  • Sabresiberian - Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - link

    Where do you get your sales figures from? I haven't found any reports that back up your implication that the Xbox One is somehow an insignificant part of the gaming business.
  • GeorgeH - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    They've also announced that they will no longer require a Live Gold subscription for Netflix, Hulu, and other media streaming services. That's a far bigger deal, as it was pretty ridiculous to position the One as an all in one entertainment device and then charge extra for access to subscription streaming services that have nothing to do with Microsoft.

    It's even more ridiculous when everything from my TV to my toaster can stream Netflix etc. without added fees, but the "OMG awesome media device" that is the One cannot.

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