According to market research firm, NPD Group, December was huge for Microsoft and the Xbox One. Xbox One spent all of 2014 stuck behind Sony's Playstation 4, and while total sales still favor Sony, Microsoft won a big victory in December.
Why? Isn't it obvious?
Paul has been harping on this very thing since the Xbox One was made available, but the clear, defining factor is price. Yes, Microsoft flubbed the console's release with its uneducated perception that somehow consumers and gamers wanted more than a simple gaming system. And, yes, Microsoft had trouble begrudgingly decoupling the updated Kinect tracking device from the original package which sent waves of negative commentary through the industry. But, to the uninformed consumer – you know, those that walk into an actual store simply to buy a gaming system – price is about the only factor that means anything.
So, it's great to hear that Microsoft is pushing prices for the Xbox One down again. Apparently, the company finally got a clue after the record December sales. You just never know what it's going to take sometimes. Xbox Wire's Editor-in-Chief, Will Tuttle, took to the Xbox new blog yesterday to make the announcement.
Starting today (January 16, 2015), U.S. shoppers can pick up the Xbox One for $349 from retail outlets. That puts the PlayStation 4 at a full $50 more. Who knows what this might cause? Could we see a price war explode among console providers like we do between Cloud providers (Google, Amazon, and Microsoft)? I doubt it very much, but I do expect Sony to do something in response.
Is the price permanent, though? Has Microsoft actually learned something from buyer's debit card votes? It's hard to say, but Tuttle carefully phrased the announcement, suggesting that the new price is a special price without giving an end date. Maybe Microsoft is taking a wait-and-see approach before announcing the price is absolute.
In addition to announcing the new price, Tuttle also took time to tout what the company has planned for the Xbox One in 2015, including new games and new services.
Of course, people seem to forget that there's a third game console option: Nintendo's Wii U. I'm almost ashamed to say this, but my kids asked for (and got) the new Nintendo console for Christmas, primarily to play Mario-related games. I fought it, but my wife played heavily on my conscious. I thought I knew what was best for my kids. "You're going to play an Xbox One and be happy about it." But, after the reveal on Christmas morning and spending time with the console, I'm actually pretty amazed at what a really excellent gaming console Nintendo has wrought. You can get a Nintendo Wii U bundle for around $300 and it includes the fancy new remote display controller (which is an amazing use of technology, btw).