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I Don’t Understand the Xbox One X and Microsoft

June 15, 2017Written by Alex Co

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(Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this article are of the author’s alone, and do not represent the views of PlayStation LifeStyle as a whole.)

Contrary to what many people might think, the people writing and working for PlayStation LifeStyle aren’t just PlayStation gamers. Nope, we’re just gamers who appreciate a game and the industry regardless of the brand or platform. This is why you sometimes see us talk about non-PlayStation stuff in our weekly Now Loading column.

Having said that, I do not understand Microsoft and its latest gaming hardware. Why? Allow me to explain (and no, it’s not because I’m a huge PlayStation fanboy, nor does being the Editor-in-Chief of an independent PlayStation site make me one).

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Earlier in the week during its E3 2017 press conference, Microsoft shocked the gaming world by finally revealing the final name, price and release date of the Xbox One X (formerly known as Project Scorpio). Microsoft didn’t really shock anyone with the specs since we already knew what it was capable of months before the reveal. What shocked most of us, I gather, was the price. Coming in at $499, the Xbox One X is $100 more expensive than the PS4 Pro. Sure, the Xbox One X might be beefier and can do a lot more under the hood, but for your average gamer (those who don’t pore over resolution, frame rates and all that), they’re going to see two consoles that both tout “4K gaming” and see that one is $100 cheaper, has a lot of highly-rated games, and well, you can see where I’m going with this.

What baffles me the most with the Xbox One X and Microsoft’s way of presenting it wasn’t just because of the price, but rather, more on what should people do with it and how Microsoft seems to have dropped the ball in what gamers really want, which is, as you might have already guessed, are the actual games.

Microsoft failed to give a compelling reason why people should jump to the Xbox One X, or upgrade to it if they have the original Xbox One, or the Xbox One S. Some might be swayed by the added horsepower alone, but at that price, you’re quite close to building a similar spec gaming PC, and given how almost all (if not all) of the Xbox One’s games are available on PC, that might make more sense, no? It’s certainly more future-proof and at this point seems to be a safer bet given we’re quite a few years into this console generation, and you can bet that Sony and Microsoft are already cooking up plans to announce the PS5 or the next Xbox (Xbox One X2? Xbox One XX?).

Just to add fuel to the discussion fire, I have a PS4 Pro (and of course, the first release PS4). While I can argue that I needed one for work, I would have bought one even if it wasn’t. Not only did it kind of just replace the OG PS4’s original price point (and have 1TB of HDD space out of the box), but it gave a slight bump to the PSVR’s games, and had the slightly tweaked DualShock 4 out of the box. I was OK with the PS4 Pro’s price given the advantages I mentioned above, but did the price play a part in me getting one? Definitely. This upgrade was made easier to swallow given that I knew that I was getting a steady lineup of (real) PlayStation exclusives that I couldn’t play anywhere else. The same couldn’t be said to the Xbox One X, which is what my main issue is with the console’s official reveal. Microsoft could have doubled down and announced a ton of new games that capitalize on the hardware capabilities and in turn, give the Xbox One brand a much-needed second wind. That didn’t happen. What we got instead was a gameplay demo of BioWare’s upcoming Anthem, which, while it looked very impressive, is not an exclusive.

If history is any indication, the console landscape can’t be won by just having the better hardware — the PS2 and the Xbox is proof of this enough — but rather who can offer a more diverse and steady diet of games. Unfortunately, the Xbox One brand can’t say this — at least for this year.

 

Ultimately though, what Microsoft did at this year’s E3 was give a more compelling reason to buy an Xbox One S; given it’s cheaper, and can play all the games that newfangled $499 console can. Me, personally, I was waiting on the Xbox press conference to finally decide if I’m getting a Project Scorpio or “settle” for an Xbox One S. As it turns out, settling isn’t a bad thing when it comes to the Xbox One. And if ever I want Xbox One games at their technical best, I can just buy them on PC.

Oh, I know, I know, it reads like I’m just bashing the Xbox One X and Microsoft, but I assure you, that’s not my point. I’m just left scratching my head on what Microsoft is aiming to do with the Xbox One X, who’s the target demographic and whether it’ll click. Will Microsoft’s upcoming console help bridge the sales gap between the PS4? Will it help usher in new (real) exclusives? I can’t answer those for now. What I do know is, $499 is expensive for a new console — especially for a console update within the same generation — and you know what? I wouldn’t be surprised if other people end up like me, scratching their heads and ask, “I don’t get the Xbox One X or Microsoft” when the console launches later this year.