It looks as though Microsoft’s bold new scheme for the Xbox One might just work. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that the Xbox One is going to ship without Kinect for the first time, alongside a price drop of $100. This will bring its cost down to the same as its rival, the PS4, at $399 in the United States. It will also allow customers the freedom to buy the console without the motion-sensor device, which has caused more than a little controversy since the Xbox One was announced.
Microsoft will be hoping that this new release strategy will help cut the lead the PS4 has in sales, with the Sony console now outselling the Xbox One for four months in a row. Not only that, but Phil Harrison, Microsoft’s head of European Studios, has predicted that the drop will result in more games for the system.
According to GameStop’s president Tony Bartel, Microsoft’s plan for more sales is working like a charm. Talking on a post-earnings financial call, Bartel announced that the retailer, who posted a massive $2 billion in sales for the first quarter of this year, has received a “stronger demand” for the Xbox One since Microsoft announced the price drop.
“I definitely think we’re already seeing in our stores with our reservation program as well as dialogue with PowerUp Rewards [members that] there’s a stronger demand as a result of the price drop,” said Bartel. He went on to add that this was good news for GameStop as they will “sell a lot more units” and that will lead to “more Xbox One units out there to put software on.”
This will be met with smiles from Microsoft, given the compromises they have made since once calling the Kinect an important part of the “platform ecosystem” and making claims like “Xbox One is Kinect.” An improvement in sales could also determine the fate of the Kinect itself. With Rare, Microsoft’s go-to developer for Kinect titles, announcing the lay-off of staff after the release of Kinect Sports Rivals, Microsoft will be sure to have one eye on the development of the newly-demoted peripheral.
It’s going to be tough for the Xbox One to catch up to the PS4’s sales figures, though. As of last month, Sony’s console has sold 7 million units, and shows no sign of slowing down as market leader. Sony’s CEO Kaz Hirai has even said that “it is likely that PS4 will become the platform which exceeds the profits earned with PS2” – in other words, becoming the biggest-selling console of all time.
We’ll be waiting until the next quarter for signs of just how well Microsoft’s strategy has worked – either from the tech giant themselves or from GameStop’s next fiscal figures. The Xbox One is released Kinect-free on June 9, with the motion controller being made available independently by the end of the year.