Opinion-Bytes: Microsoft’s Holiday Wish – Sell, Sell, Sell

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Beginning November 2nd – yes, that’s this coming Sunday – consumers in the United States can get an Xbox One for only $349. Better yet, this price point even includes a game, with your choice between Assassin’s Creed and Sunset Overdrive. The Sunset Overdrive bundle is particularly appealing though, as it comes with a white console and controller.

If you want the Kinect however, you won’t be left in the cold. There’s an Assassin’s Creed bundle which comes with AC: Unity, AC IV: Black Flag and Dance Central Spotlight, and this also comes at a reduced price point of $449. Are you more of a FPS gamer? No worries, because there will be a Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare bundle, also with Kinect, at $449. It doesn’t come with three games like the Assassin’s Creed bundle , but it DOES feature a custom themed console and controller, limited edition exoskeleton, and of course a copy of COD: Advanced Warfare.

For anyone who’s been sitting on the fence, this is a great time to buy. I mean, getting a next-gen console for $349 is nothing to scoff at, especially when that includes a game valued at $60. The catch? Well, while this price is good through the holidays, it all comes to an end on January 3rd.

As great as this deal is though, there’s a couple of issues worth noting. For starters, it’s US only… and what have Microsoft been heavily criticized for since the Xbox One’s initial reveal? Focusing all their efforts on the US. Granted, they’re not likely to push units across the rest of the world, but they’re certainly not going to gain any fans this way. From a business standpoint it makes sense to focus on the only market that’s receptive to their machine, but it’s certainly going to cause a lot of groans overseas, and rightfully so. “Oh, yay… the Americans get the goods again. Hope they enjoy it with that football package of theirs…”

Next, while the temporary price cut is smart – because those considering an Xbox One will feel compelled to go out and buy one in the next two months – it also stinks of desperation. Not that desperation is a bad thing, per se. After all, it’s allowing consumers to get a great product at a great price, but what happens to sales after January 3rd? Nobody’s going to want to spend $400 and $500 again. Gamers have largely criticized Microsoft for selling an underperformer at a premium price, and many have gone as far as to say they wouldn’t consider an Xbox One unless the price goes down. Is a limited window of opportunity really going to work for Microsoft long term?

So, let’s break down what they could be thinking: Internal sales estimates could have been poor, forcing Microsoft’s hand to do whatever necessary in order to compete. Another possibility? They could be hoping the price drop puts Xbox One’s in more homes across the country, meaning friends and family of X-One owners would be able to see it in action, positive word of mouth would spread, and thus hopefully pave the way for a better 2015 once the price goes back up. Or, maybe they realize between Halo: Master Chief Collection, Sunset Overdrive and Forza Horizon 2, their first party offerings overshadow what Sony’s offering (as far as new releases are concerned), so they’re confident in their sales and want to maximize the amount of units sold. Regardless of the reason, one thing’s for certain: Consumers win.

A lot of people are asking, “What will Sony do?” Sony, more than likely, are going to do nothing. I have both an Xbox One AND a PS4, so I love both machines… but Sony have a penchant for being cocky, and they certainly have reason to be so with how far ahead they are in the sales game. I suspect that unless the PS4 takes a monumental dive this holiday, you won’t see Sony batting an eye. If anything, they’ll likely see this move by Microsoft as their handiwork, since they’re pretty much outselling the Xbox One worldwide by… what, 2:1 at this point? No, the only thing you’re likely to see are PS4’s bundled with a single game at $399.

Personally, I think Microsoft are still catching a bit too much heat from their console reveal in 2013. They’ve really changed the Xbox One around, and I can attest that it’s a great machine. It’s not my third party machine for obvious reasons, but it can still play next-gen games and its UI and features are, in my opinion, much better than what the PS4 currently offers. While the PS4 is my console of choice, the Xbox One has a lot of bells and whistles that makes me say, “Wow, I wish my PS4 did that.” I hope that Microsoft can really contend this holiday as a result, because their current machine really isn’t as bad as many have made it out to be.

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