In an interesting reversal of what happened last generation, Microsoft's Xbox One launched at a $100 price premium to Sony's PlayStation 4. Despite Sony building the higher performing console, Microsoft's Xbox One actually had a higher silicon budget (thanks to eSRAM increasing the SoC's total die area). It was ultimately the bundling of Microsoft's Kinect that forced the Xbox One to launch at $499 instead of $399. Committed to making the Xbox One more than just a game console, Microsoft seemingly hoped Kinect would be a non-negotiable part of the Xbox experience. That all changes in early June however.

Microsoft just announced a $399 version of the Xbox One, without Kinect, available starting June 9th. The console hardware appears unchanged, it'll just be sold without Kinect. Microsoft will offer a standalone Kinect option later this fall. Also in June Microsoft will begin offering its Games with Gold Xbox Live program to Xbox One owners as well. Any Xbox One user with a Gold Xbox Live subscription will get access to free games every month (similar to the program already available for Xbox 360 owners, a single subscription will give you access to Games with Gold on both platforms).

Putting the Xbox One at price parity with the PS4 makes a lot of sense, and should help Microsoft in the near term. The real question is whether $100 is enough to move users over to the Xbox One or if the market views the PS4's spec/performance advantage as being more valuable than the Xbox ecosystem. 

The real tragedy in all of this is that both Microsoft and Sony appear to have hedged their bets a little too much with the Xbox One/PS4. I get the feeling that neither company felt the market for ultra high end consoles was all that solid to begin with, and instead aimed lower on the performance ladder than they did last round (relatively speaking). It's a bit of a self fulling prophecy at this point. Going more conservative with performance due to a fear of a market going away is a great way to ensure that the market is open for a higher performing alternative (read: Steambox, PCs) to come in and steal users away. 

In speaking with NVIDIA prior to the Tegra K1 launch their viewpoint is that the clock is ticking for when mobile SoCs can equal the performance of the new consoles. I'm sure the other mobile players are focused on the same thing. We'll likely see Xbox 360-ish performance out of mobile silicon in the next 12 months. Add another few generations (and process nodes) and we'll be a lot closer to Xbox One/PS4 performance. We're already pretty close on the CPU side.

Source: Xbox Wire

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  • Brett Howse - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    Wow this is a surprising turn of events. They've effectively killed off Kinect now for game developers. Reply
  • Eurasianman - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    ^ This. I am tired of Microsoft pulling 180s. Stick with your guns like a man.

    Or better yet, think before you speak.
    Reply
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    The latter.

    What's funny is that at $399 without Kinect, it's still not a compelling purchase against the PS4... not that I would personally buy either one.
    Reply
  • JeffFlanagan - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    Of course it's a compelling purchase against the PS4. It will have exclusive games that can't be played on a PS4. I'll likely get a PS4 first, but I'm not going to be playing any Halo games on a PS4. Reply
  • Marthisdil - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    Eh - Sony has Cinavia. As long as it's part of any of their consoles firmware, i'll never buy a Sony console. Reply
  • Sanyo M1 - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    So does the Xbox One...or any Blu Ray player since 2013. Reply
  • JeffFlanagan - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    No they haven't. Most developers aren't interested in Kinect, and those that are will not lose interest just because the device isn't bundled, or 360 Kinect games would not exist.

    It's only a subset of gamers that have any interest in Kinect. I'm in that subset, but I can still see that it was dumb to bundle Kinect and drive the console price up for people who will never use it.
    Reply
  • Brett Howse - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    The attach rate of system accessories is historically very low. If a developer wanted to dedicate any amount of time for Kinect, it's just not worth it now.

    This doesn't apply to cross platform games anyway, but for exclusives, every system would have had it so it would make sense to utilize it.

    Now it doesn't make any sense.
    Reply
  • mrfunjitsu - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    Incorrect. As Jeff pointed out there's still a big market for Kinect games. The people who will buy the Kinectless console were never the target market for Kinect games. Nothing has changed in that respect. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - link

    I didn't mean dance around your room Kinect games. I meant exclusives like Titanfall that use Kinect for some purpose. I'm just not creative enough to know what that purpose may be, but for instance, Forza can use Kinect face tracking to let you look out the side window as you are driving by turning your head a bit.

    That kind of integration will certainly not happen now.
    Reply

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