How much would you be prepared to pay for the Xbox Two (Project Scorpio)? Prior to the launch of the Xbox One, people were worried about how much it would be, but the final price wasn't so bad.
Could the next console from Microsoft be the one that breaks records? After all, Phil Spencer has been stressing that it's a "premium" console. Would that put you off completely? We don’t know much about the Xbox Two yet, but we know enough to make some educated guesses.
Xbox Historical Pricing
First things first let’s take a look at the history of the cost of Microsoft consoles:
|Xbox Original||$299 - Nov 2001|
|Xbox 360||$299 -$399 - Nov 2005|
|Xbox One||$499 - Nov 2013|
|Xbox One S||$399 - 2016|
|XBox 2 (Project Scorpio)||$599 - $699? 2017 Release Date|
Looking at the pattern simplistically, each console has seen a $100 increase, with the Xbox at $299, the Xbox 360 at $399 and the Xbox One at $499. Would that make a guess of $599 for the Xbox Two a reasonable assumption? Perhaps, though there are other factors to consider.
For one, the Xbox 360 was a console that varied dramatically in price over the years, with higher and lower specification versions released periodically to suit the demands of gamers. With the Xbox One however, Microsoft has gone back to basics with just one price to include everything, including the motion sensing technology, Kinect. It’s possible that future versions or releases of the Xbox One will come with variable price tags, in which case there is a chance that a version of the Xbox Two with less memory or less functionality could come complete with a slightly lower price tag.
Breaking Down The Evidence So Far
Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, sat down with IGN for an hour-long interview that you can watch below if you're so inclined:
In this interview, several conversations came up about Xbox 2/Project Scorpio. Among them was the continued conversation of pricing. For starters, Phil discussed a pre-E3 show to talk about Scorpio, but they haven't decided on that yet. Phil Spencer seemed almost giddy as he said "I can't wait to show people what it looks like."
He used the term "premium" again when describing the design of the console as well. When asked about pricing yet again, his response was this:
"I call it a premium console because I want people to be clear that the customer we're building that for is the premium gaming customer. The person who buys the majority of the games, the person who's playing the most games, spending the most hours, spending the most dollars. It's like our Elite controller. I call that a premium controller."
Okay, so now we have a comparison to make. Let's look at the pricing difference between a normal controller and the elite option:
- Standard Xbox One Controller: $59.99
- Xbox One Elite Controller: $149.99
I realize this is a bit of a stretch, but Phil Spencer compared Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio) to an elite controller in terms of pricing. The cost difference huge between these two accessories. Would Microsoft seriously consider charging double for the price of the new system?
Putting aside launch pricing, you can get yourself one of the Xbox One S models right now for $299. Double that, and Scorpio/Xbox 2 releases at $599. You know, it honestly sounds like that could be the price when you lay it out like that.
It's more than Xbox One was at launch, but it's still below the sticker shock you would feel if it were to cost, say, $699. I think gamers can stomach $599, if only because it's going to be "the most powerful console ever made."
Phil Spencer continued to try and set expectations during this interview when he said the following:
"I'm not trying to scare anybody on the price. We're going to come out on a price that we think is fair for the product that we build and the customers will tell us as they always do. I call it premium because I don't want people to get confused that somehow Scorpio is the thingthat is going to take over the Xbox line."
He even went on to say that "the majority of consoles that we're going to sell are the Xbox One S and I'm very proud of that."
Interesting. So Microsoft doesn't expect people to rush out and buy Xbox Two (Project Scorpio). They know they're targeting a niche market with this premium console and they've set expectations accordingly. I think this also justifies the $599 price point. You could argue that they could go higher than that, but even hardcore gamers aren't made of money.
Another factor that could dramatically alter how much the Xbox Two launches for is that of the technologies contained within it. Perhaps one of the most influential reasons that the Xbox One’s launch price was higher than that of its rival, the PlayStation 4, is due to the inclusion of the Kinect technology with the sale of every console. Adding in a new technology to the sale is bound to increase the cost per unit, and the same could be true of the Xbox Two.
Since Project Scorpio is confirmed to be VR compatible, we now have a few options as to what it could be bundled with:
- The Oculus Rift (Priced at $600)
- A headset from the line of announced Windows 10 VR headsets
The reason why we've ruled out the HoloLens is twofold: for starters that headset is augmented reality, not virtual reality. The second piece of evidence is that Microsoft indefinitely delayed the HoloLens earlier in 2016.
Rumors are point more towards the Oculus Rift than the other choices, but with the Rift bundled in, the price will go up significantly. It's more likely that Microsoft will tap into its line of Windows 10 headsets and leverage the partnership they have with one of those manufacturers to make something compatible on Xbox 2/Project Scorpio.
We mentioned inflation in passing but it is a very real consideration when thinking about the cost of future games consoles. Take a walk around a supermarket one week to another and it’s easy to spot that in general the cost of living is increasing. In general this isn’t too much of a problem, as salaries tend to rise with the cost of living. In 1990 for example, the average salary in the US was just $438 a year, compared to around $50,000 today.
There is a very real chance that these increasing figures could impact the cost of the next Xbox games console, especially considering the unpredictable financial world in which we find ourselves living. Even with a low inflation rate of just 2% for the next ten years would see an item that did cost $499, now cost $599.
Signs of Rain: The Possibility of a Cloud-Based System
The cloud was something Microsoft talked about a lot prior to the release of Xbox One, but lately we've only heard about it here and there. Part of that comes from the push back on an always-online console, but this could be the secret sauce Microsoft can use to really push Scorpio to the limit.
The only news we've had of Microsoft's plans for the cloud, comes from talk of Xbox-exclusive Crackdown 3, which is set to use the power of the cloud in multiplayer. They want fully destructible city environments in the game, with no compromises.
That's just not possible with the processing power of one Xbox console. Instead, they use the cloud with some impressive results. According to Dave Jones, creative director on the game, they are using the cloud to pull some serious power in their pursuit of total destruction.
We're hitting about nine times the power of the Xbox One here in this demo, due to the way the guys are playing. I think 13 times is our record, though. You can really raze the entire city if you want to."
What does this mean for the price? Not much right now, but it does show how the power could be leveraged in the future. Perhaps Microsoft held back on some of the hardware with this in mind? This would bring down the cost of the system, and further reinforces our $599 price point.
What do you think? Have we underestimated? Overestimated? How much would you be prepared to pay for the Xbox Two?