You knew it would come to this. Microsoft and Sony's new console platforms are too closely match to have this kind of price disparity. Though Microsoft’s Xbox One may have outsold Sony’s PlayStation 4 in December, overall the PS4 is still in the lead with 4.2 million units shipped versus 3 million or so Xbox One systems, in round numbers. The primary reason is likely that Sony decided to price their new console a full $100 less than their competitor’s. And so it was only a matter of time before Microsoft had to react and today they have, sort of.
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Today, Microsoft is offering $100 of store credit to consumers for trading in their old PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 consoles. Microsoft’s move is really more of an acknowledgement, in my opinion anyway, that their pricing is a little out of line versus Sony’s offering. And when you consider the fact that, graphically speaking at least, the PlayStation 4 is a more powerful system over all, you can see where Microsoft’s sense of urgency is coming from, beyond just the obvious leading indicator of being a full 30 percent behind Sony in units sold.
Of course, Microsoft’s offering with the Xbox One also includes the new Kinect sensor, which many consumers will find is worth the $100 premium for the machine but for some, the Kinect just isn’t enough of a draw. Couple that with recent rumblings that Microsoft is relaxing game development specifications, affording more power to graphics processing at the expense of available Kinect resources where desirable, and we start to see that Microsoft is perhaps retrenching in their efforts for the long haul, giving developers and gamers alike more flexibility.
Forcing consumers into buying Kinect with the Xbox One was the real issue out of the gate and it appears at least Microsoft is trying to react. There’s no question, Microsoft’s vision for the Xbox One was a longer term view, with full living room media integration, voice and gesture controls front and center in the package. Arguably, the Xbox One experience could be considered more “full-featured” but it appears Sony’s effort to capitalize on gaming purists and enthusiasts with pure horsepower, at least initially, has paid off.
What will be interesting is how Microsoft will continue to react in the months ahead. Frankly, today’s $100 store credit is really only a token gesture, with most gamers more likely to sell their old, working consoles on eBay or Craig’s List for a better return. That said, if your console is on its last legs, the offer might indeed be tempting, though Microsoft specifies that trade-in consoles must be “fully functional.”
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