The Xbox One Effectively Costs $230 This Week

Posted: June 23, 2015 in Opinion Piece

choose-game
by Paul Tassi

While this is not the “Sale! Sale! Sale!” glossy section of the newspaper, it has become clear that Microsoft is running a promotion that is slipping under the radar for many, and is actually the single best deal on any new-gen console we’ve seen since their 2013 launch.

In the wake of E3, Microsoft has released both a $400 1TB Xbox One and permanently lowered the price of the 500 GB base version (now Kinect-free, of course) to $350. Pretty good, but where things really start to go nuts is with the types of bundles they’re offering.

The old bundles included either Assassin’s Creed Unity or Halo: The Master Chief Collection as part of the package, free games included with the system as often ends up happening a little while into a console’s life cycle. But now, through June 27th, Microsoft is throwing another game onto the pile. What makes it worthwhile? You get to choose it.

That means any new purchase of an Xbox One not only comes with AC or Halo: MCC, but also potentially Arkham Knight, The Witcher 3, The Elder Scrolls Online, Grand Theft Auto V, Mortal Kombat X and many more qualifying games. It isn’t the first time Microsoft has done this, but paired with existing bundles and recent price cuts, the final price is lower than it’s ever been. They’re selling a $350 console that comes with $120 worth of free games, which effectively makes the price of the base unit $230, provided you would have bought Assassin’s Creed or Halo: MCC anyway. At worst, it’s $280 for a brand new 1TB system, using the same math.

To be fair, both Unity and The Master Chief Collection were two of the biggest launch disasters of last year, but now after a series of patches, AC: Unity is working just fine. Halo: MCC still has lingering multiplayer issues which are pretty maddening, but honestly, I think that game is worth $60 for the remastered campaigns alone, so if you’re getting it essentially for free, it’s totally worthwhile.

Add in the fact that you can get any new release for free on top of that? It could be hard to pass up. I was actually made aware of this deal by a friend who has put off buying a new-gen console since launch, decided this package was finally too good to avoid. He’s picked up a One and my Destiny fireteam has expanded.

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Despite fanboy accusations, I’m not trying to stump for Microsoft here, but putting this deal side by side with what Sony’s offering, it’s a stark difference. Sony also has an Arkham Knight bundle this week, but it’s $400 for a 500 GB system with the game. Effective price: $340. Their only bundle that contains two games (The Last of Us Remastered and GTA V, you don’t get to pick) is $469 with a Prime membership. A deal, but still, nothing quite on the level of how low the Xbox One is going.

The reason for the disparity is obvious. Despite relatively few big sales or price cuts, Sony is still massively outselling Microsoft. With a huge head start at launch, by last count the PS4 has sold 22.3 million units, while the Xbox One lags behind. The last official sell-through numbers are at 10 million, and Microsoft usually only communicates in “sold to retailers” figures lately, which don’t mean much.

While Microsoft has certainly surpassed that 10M total by now, they’re without a doubt still far behind the PS4. Now, they’re pulling out all the stops to try and get last-gen customers to upgrade to their system, like announcing backward compatibility at this year’s E3, and now by creating the deeply discounted bundle mentioned above.

Microsoft has a little more leeway to play around with price cuts and sales as obviously the larger corporation is enormous, where gaming is just a small piece. Sony doesn’t quite have that luxury as its larger business has struggled quite a bit in recent years, and video gaming remains one of its only bright spots. So as long as consumers are proving they’ll still pay $400 for a PS4, that’s where the price will stay.

Nintendo does have a comparable bundle to the one Microsoft is offering, and it’s more or less permanent. That would be their Smash Bros. package which sells the new fighting game with the Wii U for $300. Effective price: $240. But I would argue, much to the dismay of Nintendo fans, that the Wii U is fundamentally worth less (not “worthless”) as a console because of a complete lack of third party support. It simply does not play a huge host of multiplatform games that PS4 and Xbox One owners take for granted. As such, being $100 or so cheaper seems logical, though the low price hasn’t exactly spiked their sales, and they still lag behind both Sony and Microsoft, despite being released a full year earlier.

I’m not going to tell you to run out and buy an Xbox One. The system certainly has its problems and its competitors have their advantages. But this is without a doubt one of the deepest discounts any console has seen this generation, and a good way to get a new release of your choice for free, which rarely happens with these sorts of bundles. Microsoft really wants you to join Team Xbox, and they’re doing absolutely everything to try and make that happen in the wake of E3.

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