Every generation comes with that familiar elephant in the room. The same elephant which can often cause either the success or failure of a console, and give the opposing ‘side’ plenty of fuel to use against them during the usual ‘versus’ discussions/arguments/insults.
That elephant being, of course, the price. Things looked a little dicey when it was announced that the Xbox One’s price would be $100 more than the PS4 in the US, but after gamers got to play both systems, as well as see the packaged Kinect 2.0 in action, that $100 difference was somewhat softened.
A consoles success is generally determined on how gamers see it as being value for money. A console may cost $500, but if the technology is there, along with the software, peripherals, gameplay and extras (such as TV integration which Microsoft is so excited about talking about) then surely it is worth paying for.
Every new generation the price goes up, which begs the question ‘how much is too much?’ At what stage will gamers finally say no to a new console based on price?
If the Xbox Two (Project Scorpio) releases in holiday of 2017 and costs $1000 would you buy it? You may be loyal to the Xbox, you may have bought every Microsoft console leading up to the Xbox Two’s release, but can you justify spending $1000 on what, at the end of the day, is just a games console?
That’s not to say $1000 would be the price of the ‘basic’ Xbox Two/Project Scorpio package. Just like each generation before it, we can assume that Xbox Two will be offered in a variety of packages, from a basic memory/peripheral/no game package, right up to the all singing, all dancing decked out with memory and various games package.
Now it would be surprising if the Xbox Two basic console cost $1000, and I definitely don’t think Microsoft would make any new fans if that were to happen, but I don’t think it is out of the realms of possibility that an advanced package may cost something close to this.
Kinect 3.0 will no doubt be available, and if Oculus Rift and Sony’s version are a base for predicting trends, it may be worth considering that Microsoft may have their own virtual reality hardware in the pipeline. These together in a package would of course demand a rather hefty price tag, and due to the amount in the box, gamers would not feel too hard done by.
It would be another outcome entirely if the console alone cost $1000.
What Would Justify a $1,000 Price Tag?
Let's assume for a moment that the Xbox 2, code-named Project Scorpio, is going to be a thousand dollars. We obviously don't know for certain, but let's just throw that out there for the sake of argument. What could possibly justify that high of a price tag? Before we dive into that though, consider this: how much do you think you spend each generation on launch titles, accessories, and the console itself? Somewhere in the ballpark of $1,000 when you add it all up, isn't it? It could be less, it could be more, but it's probably close to that for many of us (especially the hardcore gamer crowd).
So let me pitch you this idea then: what if the console came with everything you needed for the first year? I'm talking the box, extra controller, all the launch titles, charge kit, headset, Xbox Live subscription, everything you could need for the first year (including access to, or discounts on all games releasing in the first year of the console, for a thousand dollars? The Xbox One had a "Day One Edition" so maybe the Xbox Two could have a "Year One" edition?
You may scoff initially, but it would be a value depending on the number of items included (and the price of games). In the past Microsoft has tried payment plans on their systems too. You may or may not recall the Xbox 360 slim version that had this plan in place. Essentially, you paid $99 up front to walk away with the console that day. The catch was that you had to sign a contract for 2 years of Xbox Live on a month-to-month basis with payments each month. It ended up costing you more in the end, but it offered a cheaper entry fee.
While Microsoft did cancel the program, they seemed hopeful that such a model could work again in the future. A Microsoft spokesperson commented on the program saying: "This program was intended to be a pilot experiment from the start, and Microsoft routinely adjusts the mix of offers available to its customers and this change was simply standard business practice."
I think a similar payment plan, with the bundle described above, could be a good way to make consumers feel alright with a $1,000 price tag. They would just finance it and make monthly payments. You're welcome Microsoft.
What if The Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio) is a PC?
I built an incredibly high end PC several years ago before the PS4 was even announced and it's still playing games on max settings for the most part. Back then it cost me just over $1,000 to build it from the ground up. That's actually on the low side of things when it comes to high end PC systems. If the Xbox 2 was a PC with parts that can be swapped out and upgraded, would it be so hard to imagine it selling for $1,000?
You laugh, but Phil Spencer recently talked a big game with Polygon about how he wants to see the Xbox One receive hardware upgrades much like a PC. Now that Windows 10 is running on Xbox One, Phil is looking to the future to create a "Universal Windows Platform."
He wants consoles to be like PC rigs and mobile devices. Instead of releasing a new box every six or seven years, he wants to sell you parts to upgrade the box you have. When you think of the Xbox 2 like a PC or even a smart phone, then it suddenly doesn't become a stretch to think that the price could shoot up to $1,000. Of course, the parts you need as you upgrade it wouldn't cost nearly as much per element, but the entry fee would be steep.
Considering there is a possibility that the console won’t have an optical drive, that it will be significantly smaller in size than the cumbersome Xbox One, and may come a lot sooner than the 8 year gap which separated Xbox 360 and Xbox One, a price tag attached even remotely close to $1000 will frustrate the Microsoft loyal. Of course, a payment plan or sweet "Year One" bundle could balance out the bitterness with a dose of sweet.
Whether we like it or not, prices are always increasing, so the first $1000 home console is inevitable. What would the console have to offer in order for you to agree that a four figure price tag is fair? Would you be willing to pay for a basic console, albeit an improvement on the Xbox Two (and the PC standards of the day), if it was released at $1000? Keep in mind that most (if not all) serious gaming PCs cost upwards of a thousand dollars to build.
Maybe we would continue to buy the console in droves. Maybe we wouldn’t. Once we hear our first rumblings of the Xbox Two, the pieces to the elephant shaped puzzle will begin to fall in to place. It will either unite us all or divide us all, but as it stands…
Would you pay $1000 for an Xbox Two/Project Scorpio? What about a "Year One" edition? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!