After what feels like months and months of a standoff between PlayStation and Xbox. One of them blinked when it came to the final price point of their next-generation consoles. Now let’s be clear, Xbox had to adapt their strategy after a massive leak revealed the form factor of the Xbox Series S. As well as the price point and release date. Often, Xbox has been slow to come back from these leaks, either ignoring them or addressing them a week or more later down the line. Xbox didn’t sit idly by after this leak.
In an incredible bit of marketing magic which took no doubt a ton of work from the team, Xbox rolled out almost their entire launch plan in less than 48 hours. After having little-to-no information about what the launch of the next-generation Xbox was going to look like. The team managed to communicate the consoles launch lineup, price point, changes coming to their services. As well as the expansion of the Xbox All Access Program. Now with all this information, we can begin to form ideas of what Xbox’s true pitch of the next generation is to their customers. Which appears to be hugely driven by the value of the console and the ecosystem.
Low Cost During A Hard Time
Even though the Xbox Series S holds lower specs than the much beefier Xbox Series X, the price point will immediately catch many people’s eyes. $299 for a next-generation console is absolutely fantastic. Especially when you consider that current generation consoles like the PlayStation 4 Slim and Nintendo Switch are currently priced at $299 USD. To a casual consumer who is looking to upgrade their original Xbox One or Xbox One S, this is an incredible deal. While I have my own personal concerns about memory expansion on the console, due to its low storage space, it is hard to argue with that price point. For a new next-generation console that many casuals may pick up to play Call of Duty, Fortnite, and more, it’s an incredible bargain.
If this had been any other year, I would speculate on the success of the Xbox Series S. While price point plays a big roll in some consumer’s decision on what machine to purchase, leading into 2020. We saw more and more people were spending money on high-end consumer electronics. After the beating, the economy has taken in 2020 however, with many people being tight on disposable cash to spend. The Xbox Series S console is an incredible value, especially when you add in the value of Xbox Game Pass and Xbox All Access. But we will come back to that later.
Xbox Series X Marks The Spot
The Xbox Series X also holds incredible value for gamers who have no interest in the PC space. While PC gaming is continuing its evolution forward with the 30 Series Nvidia cards. The Xbox Series X provides incredible value in terms of specs to console gamers. The console is packed to the rim with power. With the system promising 4K, higher framerates, ray tracing, improvements to audio architecture, and much more. It truly looks to change how we play games in the Xbox ecosystem. While the $499 price tag is higher than the Series S, the value of performance you get with the Series X is worth that price difference.
While the conversation has gravitated to trying to compare the PS5 and Xbox Series X to PC builds. I really don’t believe this is a fruitful argument. While PC gaming has a ton of pro’s that are truly unique to the platform. Many casual players are intimidated by the idea of building their own gaming PC. While the enthusiast PC market continues to grow at a rapid rate, the console market continues to grow as well. With the introduction of the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro, it proved that even console players are willing to drop more money simply for better performance. The enthusiast market in consoles is growing, as more and more people are investing in high-end peripherals and hardware.
Xbox Gamepass Continues To Evolve
I don’t have to tell you how much of a value Xbox Game Pass is if you own an Xbox console or a PC. The marketing for Xbox Game Pass has been incredibly clear and focused on its objective. The sheer value of the service is seen in the variety of titles that have found success via the service. From Descenders to Carrion a ton of Indie games have blown up. In part due to the exposure that the service offers. Xbox Game Pass has changed how the Xbox ecosystem buys and consumes games. The truest value of Xbox Game Pass comes with the Ultimate variation of its membership. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate bundles Xbox Gold, Xbox Game Pass, Xcloud, and now EA Play is now included as part of your membership.
With the addition of EA Play, there is essentially no way to argue about the value of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. For $14.99 a month, which is roughly the cost of a Netflix subscription these days. You can gain access to 100s of games, via Xbox Game Pass. Including first-party games like highly anticipated next-generation games like Hellblade 2, Avowed, and Halo Infinite. PC Game Pass which offers another variety of games like Crusader Kings III, Frostpunk, Flight Simulator 2020, and many more. Xcloud allows you to take your games on the go on your phone or tablet via Microsoft’s cloud servers. Then finally with the addition of EA Play, which adds EA collections of sports games. As well as their back catalog of games. It simply drives the value of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to incredible value, that simply no other subscription service can match.
Gaming Is For Everyone
This generation the topic of accessibility has been driven to the forefront of our minds. How can as many people enjoy video games as possible? The Xbox Adaptive Controller was a massive step forward in this regard. Xbox’s dedication to pushing this forward is seen also in their first-party lineup. As many of their games contain extensive accessibility options that help a wide variety of people enjoy a game that they might not have been able to before. But one thing that many people do not think about is financial accessibility. Right now in 2020, we are in one of the biggest economic down spins we have seen in a decade. A lot of people are living paycheck to paycheck, its a sad reality of the world we live in. However, Xbox’s All Access program looks to give those that opportunity to upgrade without breaking their budget.
Rent to own has been a shady and dark part of the industry for a long time. With people paying almost double the cost of the console by the time they finish their payment cycle. Xbox seems to be directly taking these 3rd party companies to the cleaners with Xbox All Access. Xbox All Access allows you to pay for your new Xbox Series S or X over a 24 month period and includes an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Subscription. With no payment required upfront, and only $24.99 a month for the Xbox Series S, and $34.99 a month for the Xbox Series X over a 2 year period. On top of this, you don’t end up paying any more for the console then if you bought it outright and subscribed to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for the 2 years.
Success To Be Determined
We have never seen this offered before heading into a new generation, it marks a first for the industry. How well will this program work? How many people will end up choosing an Xbox console because of this flexibility? It’s hard to predict, but I know as a single income, father of two. Being able to pay for my Xbox Series X over time, will allow me to be day one on an Xbox Series X with the rest of my gaming friends. Personally, to me, that is worth its weight in gold.
While we are in uncharted waters for how consoles and ecosystems are interacting and playing. As cross-play has widely become an industry standard. While even the most walled-in ecosystems are beginning to show signs of change. While war rages on between Epic Games and Apple. Consumers can rejoice as more and more walls are being torn down and changing how we game together. It seems incredible that with some games, we can play with our friends. Even if they do not own the same console as we do. The idea of that even at the beginning of this generation seems insane.
A Different Direction For The Future
Microsoft had a rough generation with the Xbox One, there was a lot of trials, missteps, and mistakes. That ultimately drove the consumer to ask for more from Xbox. Through studio acquisitions, upgrading services, diversifying their games portfolio, and offering consumers a multitude of options. It is a whole new era for the brand as they step in a direction that no gaming hardware manufacturer has ever really pursued. However, while it may be a massive risk. Personally, as someone who was almost done with the brand in 2017. There have been a string of amazing games from Xbox’s first-party studios that have me excited for the future. The entry barrier to get into the ecosystem of the next generation has never been so low. I applaud Xbox on doubling down on their vision and marketing of a world where everyone plays together.