The Xbox One X is $499.99, a price that’s an absolutely terrible idea if Microsoft’s goal was to increase its market share. The press event also didn’t mention any features that didn’t have to do with gaming, squashing the rumors that the console was going to basically turn into a Windows 10 box that fits under your TV.
That doesn’t mean that those features aren’t coming, but Microsoft knew that it had to focus on its software lineup and it was very much successful on that front. This is a lineup that’s going to benefit everyone who has any Xbox One console, and it’s wild to think there will be three of them before the end of the year.
Between the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X — and figuring out which console customers are asking about over the phone is going to be a nightmare for retail employees — Microsoft is all over 4K televisions and HDR. The question is whether anyone actually cares enough about those things to steal any of Sony’s thunder, especially when the PlayStation 4 Pro is available for $399.99, and that’s assuming no price drop tomorrow.
The Xbox One X is going to be a hard sell at that price, but Microsoft did win itself the ability to state that it has the most powerful console on the market, and the press event featured some pretty impressive announcements that make the Xbox platform even more attractive. And hell, they can always drop the price of the Xbox One X later.
The good news
Minecraft doesn’t often make headlines, and the announcement of a 4K version of the game with HDR is kind of laughable for the obvious reasons, but Microsoft is bringing cross-platform online play to the Xbox One version of the game to play with friends who own any other version of the game.
A Microsoft game on a Microsoft platform that can be played directly with Switch or PlayStation 4 owners is a pretty big deal, and it means that Microsoft will have the best version of the game on its platform.
Grabbing Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds for the Xbox One is also a huge get for Microsoft, since the game is now going to be a “console exclusive” for the Xbox One. That term was used over and over during the press event, and it basically means that the PlayStation 4 won’t get the game, but your PC will.
In some ways it’s not about getting more games for its platform as much as keeping them away from Sony. PUBG is also a “console launch exclusive,” which indicates a timed exclusive. But these events are about building buzz, and that’s a pretty buzzy game to have at your briefing.
The addition of backwards compatibility of original Xbox games — including that sweet, sweet Crimson Skies callout — helps Microsoft to continue building the idea that the Xbox platform is a brand with gaming history.
The Xbox platform is a relative newcomer in the world of gaming, the first Xbox was released in 2001 versus the 1994 release date of the first PlayStation, but the company has been doing a great job of keeping its past alive as it goes. This is in stark contrast to Sony’s strategy of remastering and reselling its hits, but largely refusing to look back.
There were also pleasant surprises like The Artful Escape and The Last Night. Anthem looked like Bioware’s take on Destiny, which isn’t exactly an original read on the trailer, but that’s a pretty exciting idea for a lot of people.
There were many games and announcements I didn’t touch on here, but Microsoft put together a solid show with a lot of impressive reveals and a lot of chest-beating about console exclusives and raw power. We’ll see how the rest of the show goes, and we are still a bit disappointed in that price, but that’s one of the better press events Microsoft has had for a few years.