The next-generation console war officially kicked-off at E3 2013 as both Microsoft and Sony announced prices for their Xbox One and PS4, respectively. Both companies spent a significant amount of time at their media briefings, in interviews, and on the expo floor, attempting to sway gamers in choosing (and subsequently pre-ordering) one console over the other. While Xbox showed-off a lot of in-development games, for many undecided players, Sony gained the upper-hand with an (arguably) more consumer-friendly approach to used games and indie titles – as well as a launch price $100 dollars below the cost of Microsoft’s new hardware ($399 vs. $499).
Admittedly, part of the added Xbox One cost was the choice to bundle Kinect 2.0 with the console (the PS4 PlayStation Eye is sold separately for $59.99) but, with certain industry insiders claiming that Sony’s PS4 is slightly more powerful, Microsoft has been put on the defensive – forced to openly justify the higher price point.
As mentioned, the Xbox One launch price was the source of frequent conversation and debate on the public E3 show floor, behind closed doors with third party developers, as well as in the comments of our own news posts. Given that Microsoft isn’t just a game publisher but a multi-billion dollar tech brand, it should come as no surprise that even the Xbox higher-ups have been asked to address certain Xbox One launch details.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment head Don Mattrick, discussed the price as well as what to expect from the next-generation of gaming. Check out the interview below:
Mattrick has an easy time listing off features of the new Xbox – including a batch of highly-anticipated Microsoft game exclusives along with other features like Skype and NFL partnerships that are representative of the company’s attempt to make Xbox One a one-stop-shop for entertainment in the family room. However, when pressed to discuss the growing concern among fans that price is too high, Mattrick was quick to state that the price was actually lower than some analysts had predicted (albeit higher than Michael Pachter’s latest estimate of $399), as well as asserted:
“[Microsoft is] over-delivering value against other choices, I think, consumers can get. Any modern product these days, you look at it [and] $499 isn’t a ridiculous price point. We’re delivering thousands of dollars of value to people, so I think that they’re going to love it when they use it.”
Given the cost of smart phones, tablets, and computers, Mattrick isn’t being disingenuous when he says that $499 is not a ridiculous price point; though, his subsequent claim that the console will deliver “thousands of dollars of value” is definitely relative to how people use the hardware. Plenty of buyers only intend to play games on the console with no interest in Kinect 2.0 or cable TV integration.
Regardless, there’s little doubt that gamers could get their money’s worth in the long run from an Xbox One purchase – even if the console ultimately takes the number two spot this generation (which is far too early to call). The Xbox One is expected to maintain plenty of third party support along with the security of Microsoft backing the system and publishing first party exclusives. That said, the claim could be made, depending on what features buyers do and do not use, that the PS4 might offer its own “thousands of dollars of value” but for $100 less out the gate.
Of course, for anyone who is thinking of purchasing a new console, there’s also a third home option (not even mentioning the various PC platforms) – the Wii U. Unfortunately, despite harsh criticisms from developers as well as limited high-profile third-party titles coming to the console, Nintendo maintains that they have no plans to drop the price of the Wii U anytime soon.
“We have no plans to change the price of Wii U. The Wii U is a great value. With great content coming, that will drive the hardware installed base. We’ve gone from being the highest-priced console on the market to now being a great value with the announcements from our competitors. The perception of our price has changed, but what’s also changed is that people now see what great content is coming. They’ll see the value in those games. They’ll be able to enjoy a Wii U in their household for a lot less than a competing console.”
Understandably, Nintendo needs to have room for Wii U discounts down the line but, now that we’ve seen what the next-gen Xbox One and PS4 can do, it’s much harder to make an argument that the Wii U will find its footing. Despite a handful of first-party Nintendo games headed to the console, most notably a new Legend of Zelda game and Super Smash Bros. Wii U, the system’s semi-dated internal tech, limited online functionality, and lack of high-profile supplemental features, are going to make it hard to compete alongside next-gen consoles – especially now that GameStop no longer intends to sell the “Basic Wii U Bundle.”
While many Nintendo fans will easily find “thousands of dollars of value” in the Wii U software library (especially with Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8 in bound), casual consumers may find it harder to justify a $349 Wii U purchase when the PS4 is only $50 more.
Xbox One releases November 2013 at $499 with the Sony PlayStation 4 scheduled for holiday 2013 at $399. Wii U is currently available for $299 (Basic) and $349 (Deluxe).
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.