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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  • hero4hire - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    I like the idea of a 4k upgrade in 3 years. The challenge is how to improve resolution without differences in hardware that would compromise the experience (esp multiplayer) between half generations. If you could get people on board to buy into the additional + features or segment games into 2 camps you'd be ok. That said consoles aren't pc gamers and a better system for some playing the same game would likely get far far far more backlash. As a pure resolution jump to 4k alone I think you could avoid this, create a halo product, and get high end early adopters.

    I'd like it to happen as we should see and know if 4k takes off by then and BOTH consoles could cash in.
  • dew111 - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    "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."

    Uhh, if you want a 363mm^2 chip in your phone or tablet, go right ahead, nvidia (ok, they could probably cut that significantly, but multi-hundred mm^2 is still ridiculous). Unless consoles become wireless, they will always have the advantage of being attached to the power outlet and having plenty of room to dissipate heat. The Tegra K1 isn't even up to last generation consoles yet; it's pretty cocky to be talking about parity with this generation. As that clock ticks and mobile SoCs get smaller, so do console SoCs. Then they release a new generation of consoles and Poof! are faster again.
  • jimjamjamie - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Nvidia's Shield is already running Half-life 2 and Portal on a £200 gizmo that's not much bigger than a console controller. Old games? Sure, but the Tegra 4 isn't the fastest mobile SoC anymore and it is clear that the mobile SoC space is evolving faster than x86 is.

    I think it would be short-sighted to dismiss the thought of console-quality visuals on mobile within the next few years. Even if the consoles can outpace the mobiles considering the fact that consoles are not so space and power restricted as you said, a portable device which near-console-quality visuals would surely be very appealing.
  • ruthan - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    My hearth is bleeding, i didnt expected this mobile performance is almost console performance crapp from Anand.

    Its simply not true and will not in 12,24 months.. Xbox360 is still ~200Watt device and even todays power efectivity is much better, mobile up to 10W device, realy arent 20x more power efective than 7 years old Xbox, they are far from that.
    If someone will tell me something else, i want to see numbers, all number, not only particular ones, which are on same level, but as results of some tradeoffs. From my developers experience, are mobile SOC pretty limited, for example in draw calls count, texturing speed. CPU side is generally better, but still not on same level, even in 12 months. Good example is Xbox360 / PS3 vs. Xbone/PS4, on CPU side is next gen 2-4times faster with similar 200W power consumation.
  • Manch - Monday, May 19, 2014 - link

    Thats just it. Not everyone had a kinect so developers wouldnt make anything where kinect was integral to the experience. It was always just a gee whiz ooo thats neat feature. Never would it become a standout feature. Only 25% of 360 users have a kinect. As a developer I wouldnt make the experience integral because then only 25% of the userbase could play the game. With the one, by bundling it into the system that guaranteed that the entire XB1 userbase had this feature so developers if they decided to make use of it and make it integral to the experience that was OK. Now that MS has done this, they just shafted their own product. @ $399 it may have price parity but it's down a notch performance wise. They should have just knocked it down to $399 with the kinect and took the hit. This would have made it competitive sales wise. Both consoles have exclusives so that is a wash. It's getting the console into the consumers hands and the games attach rate that matters.

    PS3 started to lose me when they started dropping features that i liked. MS if they keep gong down this road may lose me and other customers too.
  • mcbowler - Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - link

    ready for next next gen already.

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