A reader tries to predict how important the Xbox One X will be to the future of Microsoft’s console business.
Xbox One X exists for a number of reasons, some of which become all too obvious when reflecting upon a previous article. Since Phil Spencer has taken over the helm at Xbox he has been something of a revelation. Being resoundingly beaten by Sony in sales and a clear deficit in first party output, is releasing the world’s most powerful console the answer?
It can’t hurt, but how successful can the Xbox One X possibly be when priced at £449? When you consider the Xbox One launched at that price and sold reasonably well, despite being hindered by a device nobody wanted (Kinect 2.0), perhaps it doesn’t warrant pessimism. Phil Spencer has repeatedly said he expects to sell far more Xbox One S units though, tempering expectations in front of the gaming press is always wise.
The suggestion Xbox One X is only aimed at the ‘hardcore’, or gaming enthusiast if you prefer, I can’t imagine that aligns with Spencer’s real expectations. Irrespective of backwards/forwards compatibility, in some respects Microsoft have hit the reset button. This is very much Spencer’s console. No longer saddled with the mistakes of the past, it presents a fresh start for the Xbox brand.
There is no question a processing power advantage has attributed to the success of PlayStation 4, with disparities in resolution being a common topic during the earlier part of the generation. The Xbox One X specifications are extremely impressive and not far removed from being next generation in capability, with the exception of the CPU. This limitation alone ensures that frame rate, particularly at higher resolutions, probably won’t see the substantial increases some of us would like to be standard on console. Save those aspirations for the next round of consoles.
Where Xbox One X will presumably set itself apart from the PlayStation 4 Pro is graphical fidelity. We’ve heard a lot about ‘4K assets’ and ‘ultra settings’, which are features previously synonymous with PC gaming, appearing to be beyond the PS4 Pro’s capabilities. How this all translates to the screen remains to be seen, though I’m inclined to give Phil Spencer the benefit of doubt when he suggests ‘demonstrable differences’. The question remains however, will gamers actually care?
I feel first and foremost a 4K TV is essential. Microsoft can talk all they want about the benefits of down-sampling to 1080p screens, improved graphics, faster load times and so on; ultimately it will be 4K TV owners who gravitate towards Xbox One X. And considering that demographic is a minority, Microsoft face an uphill task to convince gamers in general.
That being said, not unlike when high definition TVs first came to market, we’re at a point when all you can buy is a 4K screen, so that figure is growing fast. You have to imagine gaming will also play its part in selling 4K TVs.
Do I think Xbox One X will be a success? If early support is a good indication, which far exceeds the response from developers towards PlayStation 4 Pro, then I feel it stands a good chance. I certainly expect Xbox to win the NPD in the US for the months of November and December this year – or at least pip PlayStation; Nintendo’s Switch will likely represent formidable competition.
In conclusion, the price tag will inevitably prove a stumbling block for some gamers, though in terms of price per performance it’s difficult to argue against the cost. It certainly adheres to the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’. It comes down to this question: can superior versions of multiformat releases provide sufficient incentive? I really don’t see it having the same influence it had for Sony at the beginning of the generation, though I do expect the console’s appeal to be wider than perhaps Microsoft anticipate.
Foremost, Xbox needs to improve upon its first party line-up, and if this is being addressed behind the scenes, coupled with an increasing list of consumer-friendly practices, Xbox One X could yet prove to be the catalyst for a more competitive Xbox. Which stands to benefit us all. Ever since Xbox One launched Microsoft has been on the backfoot, taking on board feedback, and in just a few months we will finally discover how carefully they’ve listened…
By reader Up4Banter
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