Just how much is the world’s most powerful console potentially worth?
At this point, the Xbox One Scorpio isn’t as much of an unknown as it was for almost a year since its initial announcement- we know what hardware the system will have (well, at least the internals), and we know what kind of performance point Microsoft is aiming for with it. The question then becomes, exactly how much should the new system cost? How much will the market be willing to pay for it? Microsoft has gone ahead and loaded the system to the gills with some high end hardware– so how hard will it hit the wallet?
There are two ways to assess the Scorpio, and the price it is likely to have- either this is a system that will match its high end processing hardware equivalently in all other areas too, or it will not. In simple language, that means that the Scorpio could not just be extremely powerful, it could also be extremely feature packed- a UHD Blu Ray drive, top of the line Dolby sound support, and so on. Adding those high end features on top of already high end hardware would potentially make the Scorpio more expensive than it otherwise would be- not adding them will keep prices down, but, much like with the PS4 Pro, seem like baffling omissions.
"Theoretically, Microsoft wouldn’t be out of bounds in pricing the Xbox at a higher price, such as $499 or even $599- they can argue that the console certainly commands such a sticker price."
There is evidence to suggest, including, in many cases, direct confirmations from Microsoft themselves, that the Scorpio will have all of these high end features. The Scorpio is confirmed to be supporting Dolby Vision and HDR10, which are both high end and pioneering technology standards nowhere close to mass market adoption. A 4K UHD Blu Ray drive is confirmed. Even the Kinect will be supported, albeit via an adaptor- it looks like Microsoft is leaving no stone unturned.
Given this combination of high end hardware and top of the line features, one would expect a high end price, right? Theoretically, Microsoft wouldn’t be out of bounds in pricing the Xbox at a higher price, such as $499 or even $599- they can argue that the console certainly commands such a sticker price. The problem is, they can argue what the want, expensive consoles have never gone down well in the industry, from the 3D0 and Sega Saturn to, more recently and infamously, the PS3’s $599 USD and the Xbox One’s $499. The market simply rejects expensive consoles- in the case of the PS3, you were getting what was at the time a super high end machine with support for all sorts of peripheral features and media functionality matched by literally nothing else on the market. But the market rejected it soundly.
So it doesn’t matter if the price of the Xbox One Scorpio is justified- the market simply does not wish to spend money beyond a certain point on gaming consoles, and for now, that point seems to be the psychological barrier of $399. Anything beyond that, and people blanche. This means, then, that the Scorpio must at all costs try to stick to that price point, or risk not selling much at all.
Feasibly, I could see Microsoft pushing just a bit higher than that- I could, for instance, see a $429 or a $449 price point. It won’t be ideal, but assuming proper marketing and thoroughly sound messaging from Microsoft, it’s something that can work. The Nintendo Switch, for instance, was a stretch at $299- at $249, it was a guaranteed success, but at $299, people were iffy if it would work. Savvy marketing and great messaging from Nintendo has made the console a runaway success. Microsoft could achieve this same effect- if they stay within reasonable range of what the upper acceptable limit of the price would be.
Of course, the other thing to consider is that Microsoft itself doesn’t actually intend nor expect the Xbox Scorpio to actually sell much– Microsoft has said before plenty of times that the system is intended to be a niche mover targeted at the high end premium segment of the market. The mass market driver for Microsoft is the Xbox One S- so it can get away with pricing the Scorpio however high it wants, because at the very worst, it just makes the existing Xbox One S look like that much better value by comparison.
"Does Microsoft consider the PS4 Pro to be direct competition to the Xbox Scorpio? If it does, then there is a possibility that it will, in fact, stick to a $400 price point (especially in anticipation of an impending $50 price drop by Sony in response to the Scorpio)."
Which brings us to the final point- does Microsoft consider the PS4 Pro to be direct competition to the Xbox Scorpio? If it does, then there is a possibility that it will, in fact, stick to a $400 price point (especially in anticipation of an impending $50 price drop by Sony in response to the Scorpio)- that way, the Scorpio, even if it is a little more expensive, looks like far better value when put next to the Pro. If Microsoft does not consider the PS4 Pro to be a factor in their equations and analyses, however, it is unlikely to alter their pricing plans to any extent.
The hard part is, there are too many variables here to actually come to a reasonable understanding of how much a Scorpio should cost. Previously, we’ve been able to do similar analyses for the PS4 Pro and the Nintendo Switch– and we arrived within a reasonable ballpark of the final prices. But it’s extremely hard in this case due to so many unknowns in play. I don’t know what Microsoft will eventually price the Scorpio – it’s hard to say. But I think the most sensible price for them will be $399, and the upper limit of what they can price it will be $449. Anything beyond that, may spell trouble.
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.