The price cut wars have begun, sort of.
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Microsoft's Xbox One has been selling well to date, but still lags behind Sony's PS4 with its $100 higher price tag. Now, they’ve crafted a new package that isn’t technically a price cut, but might as well be. Microsoft has just announced a limited edition $500 Titanfall console bundle, where the One will come with a free download of the game starting March 11th.
The news first broke in Australia where a news site let an embargo slip, then it was confirmed for the UK, and now the US, and it seems like this is going to be a coordinated promotion across a number of major territories.
In the UK specifically, starting February 28th, the console itself will be discounted £30 ($50), supposedly permanently, and the Titanfall promotion starts there March 11th as it does everywhere else. I haven’t heard anything else about a direct console price cut elsewhere, only that technically you’re getting a discount if you pick up this $500 package which essentially either shaves $60 off the price of the console, or gets you Titanfall for free, depending how you want to look at it.
By all accounts, Titanfall is shaping up to be the first true “system seller” of this new generation across either system. Therefore, Microsoft’s package here is smart, if not also sort of inevitable. They would have been incredibly foolish not to offer a bundle like this, and I don’t think Sony is going to have an answer for it. I suppose we could see an Infamous: Second Son package around the same time for $400, but as good as that game may be, it doesn’t quite have the hype level of Titanfall, where 2 million players recently wrapped up a very promising beta.
I’m a little sad the Titanfall bundle doesn’t come with the rather excellent looking Titanfall controller, but I suppose that may have been too much work to assemble. It’s also interesting to note that this is a digital download of the game only and not a box copy, which isn’t usually the case with bundled packages like this. Microsoft is likely saving a few extra bucks here on materials, not to mention anyone who gets the package will have no way to sell the used copy back to stores for others to buy.
Between this discount bundle and the UK discount, perhaps a worldwide price cut is being considered and/or tested. The UK cut may just be a price normalization as my colleague Daniel Nye Griffiths points out, because the country’s VAT has made the One significantly more expensive in the UK than in the US, and the new cut could help offset that somewhat. Still, with both items, it’s essentially $50 off the system, and it could be testing how people respond to a ~$450 Xbox One. A jump all the way down to $400 to get directly in Sony’s face may be too steep given the higher costs of the console, but $450 seems reasonable for a first step.
Still, I would say that Microsoft is going to do everything possible (short of cutting ties to Kinect, of course) to get the price of the console down to $400. I would even say they could get there by the end of the year. But by the time they do, perhaps Sony will have a price cut of their own in the works. And you can bet we’ll be seeing a Destiny console bundle for the PS4 in the fall.
If you held off getting an Xbox One because of a relative lack of quality launch titles, it’s hard to blame you. But this new bundle may be enough to change your mind, particularly as Titanfall seems to be the first must-have of the generation. $500 is still a hefty price for anything, but a free copy of what many would consider an essential game for the system is good bait.