Microsoft has a lot of eggs in a basket labelled ‘Xbox One X’. It’s marketed as the ultimate premium games console; the box you buy if you want the best of the best from your console experience. Unless by best of the best you’re referring to the exclusives, which are, arguably, coming up woefully short in comparison to the competition.
It’s a huge gamble from Microsoft in a bid to re-establish itself in the console race. Sony has been utterly dominant for the past three or so years, outselling the Xbox One by a ratio of 2:1. To many, recapturing the public mindshare is already seen as a lost cause. The PS4 is a success, which breeds success, while the Xbox One is viewed through the lens of failure.
The Xbox One X is Microsoft’s chance to put the Xbox brand back on the map. E3 was the stage to tell us why it mattered. Even the most generous Xbox fan would struggle to say Microsoft hit a homerun on this front. The only Xbox One exclusives announced were Forza Motorsport 7 and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Of the games used to showcase the power of the Xbox One X, the likes of Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2 and Sea of Thieves were hardly going to impress. Updated Minecraft textures will only do so much. To the layman, there was nothing really shown that they couldn’t already do on their Xbox One, sans 4K. And while 4K may seem a big deal, it really isn’t. The number of people with 4K monitors and TVs is still incredibly low, and we’re not seeing the swift uptick that happened when HD first arrived. The vast majority of console games are happy with 1080p, they’d prefer a smoother frame rate more than anything.
In essence, Microsoft got up on stage, asked fans to drop $500 on a premium console, and didn’t have the software to back this statement up. The Xbox One X is now priced $100 more than the PS4 Pro, and any form of price cut from Sony in time for the holidays could be an absolutely killer blow. The Xbox One X is more powerful, sure, yet they’re both machines which promise 4K gaming to the consumer, in whatever bastardised form that may be.
But, and there is a big but, whatever Sony has going for it, including the raft of exclusives, the larger player base and the cheaper price point, Microsoft does have one glaring advantage - it’s reclaimed the title of the most powerful console in the world, for the first time in more than a decade. Just how big an impact that messaging has on sales remains to be seen, but it is an inarguable achievement. If you want to play the definitive version of Assassin’s Creed Origins on consoles, that place is on Xbox One X.
Sony is now playing second fiddle in the performance stakes, admittedly never an issue for it the past. If history has taught us anything, it is that price and software support matter multitudes more than performance. Just ask the original Xbox. There's also the prevailing opinion that the PlayStation 5 can't be too far off. By the time the Xbox One X is out, the PS4 will be four years old. It's not outside the realms of possibility to consider the PS5 could be out during 2018-19. If Sony delivers an upgrade which actually significantly improves CPU performance, the chief bottleneck of the PS4 Pro and XB1X, then it's game set and match.
With the software support announced, and the admittedly decent tech specs, does the Xbox One X's 4K potential have you reaching for your wallet? Or is this just another stop-gap console in the manner of the PS4 Pro? Lastly, can it help Microsoft get Xbox one sales back on level pegging with the PS4? Let us know!