On April 25, Paul Thurrott over at windowsitpro.com posted a blog about “what I know” about the new Xbox and here is what I think are the high points. The launch will come early November 2013 and Microsoft will offer two price models, a standalone version for $499 and a $299 version that will require a two-year Xbox Live commitment that is expected to be priced at $10 per month. The system is based on a “core” version of Windows 8, it will include a Blu-ray drive and the system must be Internet-connected to use.
The pricing to me seems about right, I fully expect both the Xbox and PS4 to cost $500. Now as a gamer I like the idea of having a lower cost option. I have had an Xbox Live Gold account since beta and paid for it every year so why not commit to a 2-year contract and get the system cheaper. I’m just not sure if $10 a month for gold is good enough. You look at paying out $240 in two years for gold, so it’s like paying double what you can get two years of gold now for and you pay $40 more than you would just buying the system at full price. But if you are like me and might want to buy both systems at launch, it does save you some money now. Blu-ray and a core version of Windows 8 is a no brainer but the big one everyone is talking about is the “always on” or “must have” internet connection.
If Microsoft requires the Xbox be connected to the internet to play, it shouldn’t be a problem for me, unless the internet goes down in the area (which has never happened in 6 years). I know I’m not everyone, I have fiber optic 80mb, live two blocks from the substation and have everything in my house that can connect to the internet connected, including the thermostat. But around here, if you get to far out of town your internet is crap. I was talking to a guy the other day about the Xbox having to always be connected and he lives in a rural area. He has DSL through the phone company and it’s not great. People that live on both ends of his road can get cable but he can’t because the cable company won’t run it out to him. Its people like this that Microsoft could hurt if you can’t play games on the system without connecting to the internet. I can’t see this being a requirement to play, but who knows.
Some of the other rumors around the web is the new Xbox will be “entertainment” heavy. I have read thing form it will have a TV intergraded to the ability to connect you cable box to the system to combine broadcast content with its interactive interface. I think this is where the PS4 and Xbox will set themselves apart. This time around Sony seems to have made a straight up video game machine that developers as well as gamers will like. They have heard the complaints about the PS3 from both sides and have tried to make a product for games. Not that the next Xbox won’t be all about gaming but in an age now where everything from phones to TV’s that have an app for something do I really need a game console to have it to? If it is something totally new, different and works, well then maybe yes. But if your entertainment comes before the games then you hurt your gamer base and I hope Microsoft doesn’t shoot themselves in the foot with this.
Deep down most of us are just gamers, we want a system that gives us the best games and gaming experience. I don’t care about anything else. But in this economy can the gaming market stand to have two $500 consoles launch within months of each other? Both not being able to play the large library of games I have on my shelf? New games maybe costing $70 or more? I know I most likely will not buy both consoles at launch, but on May 22nd I will have a better idea of which one I will bring home this fall.