Xbox One X’s Early Success Is Impressive – But Its Long Term Future Remains Uncertain For Now
All eyes are now on Microsoft to see if they can maintain this strong early momentum.
The Xbox One X’s early success has been a legitimate shock and a pleasant surprise to many- myself included. Whereas I have wanted Microsoft to pull back from their currently deteriorating state for a while now, I legitimately did not imagine that the Xbox One X would be able to start what hopefully looks like a reversal of momentum for them.
This is not a knock on the Xbox One X itself, of course- I have repeatedly expressed admiration for its hardware, and it is clear that it is one of the most finely engineered pieces of hardware the gaming industry has ever seen. However, it is hugely expensive- $500- and history has shown us that consoles that expensive simply do not sell. It is also simply an upgrade to an existing console, rather than being an all new one with new features and games that might compel users and prospective customers to spend that kind of money on it. Finally, and this is the important part, the state of exclusive games on the Xbox One is terrible at the moment.
But, ultimately, as we see, the Xbox One X is off to a great start. Pre-orders for the system sold out within days, projections for the holidays are high, and Microsoft claims the Xbox One X is the fastest pre-ordered Xbox system ever. All of this is well deserved success, and Microsoft deserves props for that.
"The Xbox One X is off to a great start. Pre-orders for the system sold out within days, projections for the holidays are high, and Microsoft claims the Xbox One X is the fastest pre-ordered Xbox system ever. All of this is well deserved success, and Microsoft deserves props for that."
Except- and you knew there was an except coming- early success is just that, early success. It is in no way indicative of long term prospects, because every single new console ever has done extremely well at first, and it is only later that trends begin to solidify around them. The Wii U and the PS Vita both had extremely strong launches (selling 3 million and 2 million in their first month worldwide respectively), and we can see where both systems ended up in the long run. The Dreamcast had a record breaking (literally, it broke all entertainment industry records) back in 1999, and it lasted a couple of years after that. To use less extreme examples, the N64 created all manner of records upon launch back in the day- and while successful, it ended up falling far short of its competition, predecessors, and what those early numbers had suggested. In the Xbox One line alone, we have the Xbox One S, which sold exceptionally well around launch last year, before the Xbox One’s sales slumped to their lowest point ever this year.
Early successes, therefore, mean nothing. The Xbox One X is doing well now, as it should- but it has had a year of hype and solid marketing from Microsoft, and Xbox fans and diehards are going to pick it up around launch no matter what. The question here is, will the One X join the ranks of the N64 and Xbox One S, or even Wii U and PS Vita, and fizzle out after its early success? Or will it be able to sustain its success beyond the launch and manage to solidify it into a long term trend, like the PS4 or, more recently, Switch?
A lot of this comes down to Microsoft, in the end- we know that the company does not expect it to be a mass market driver, which is fine. But they do expect and want it to sell at least some. Too much R&D went into the console for them to not want returns. All of which is to say, the most obvious and easiest way to ensure it maintains sales momentum would be to drop its price- but I don’t think Microsoft will do that right away, and certainly not as a response to low sales. Plus, that’s a bandaid solution anyway.
"The Xbox One X’s early success shows us people still care for the Xbox brand- that’s good news no matter how you slice it. Now it is on Microsoft to ensure that they continue caring."
The best way to ensure consistent sales for any gaming hardware in the long run is software support- as long as Microsoft brings out great exclusives for the Xbox One family, people will buy Xbox One systems. A lot of those people may opt for the cheaper Xbox One S- but some of them will opt for the Xbox One X, and the current proportion of sales should be maintained, give or take a bit.
We’re back to the chief problem, the crux of the issue I have with Microsoft- they are not focusing on the games enough. They are not focusing on exclusives enough. They are not investing in gaming with actual games. And this is ultimately at the root of the problems the Xbox brand has been having over the last few years.
I can only hope that the success of the Xbox One X spurs Microsoft into putting some money back into gaming, and begin working on new games. The Xbox One X’s early success shows us people still care for the Xbox brand- that’s good news no matter how you slice it.
Now it is on Microsoft to ensure that they continue caring.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to GamingBolt as an organization.