When Microsoft’s Xbox Project Scorpio finally released as the Xbox One X, the price tag of $499 was thought to be prohibitive to strong sales. The competing product from Sony, the PlayStation 4 Pro, is priced at $399, after all, and Nintendo Switch is $100 lower than that, at $299.
Considering the pricing of these three consoles, and other factors, where’s the real competition going to come from for the Xbox One X?
There are a couple of things to consider here.
First of all, Xbox One X and Sony PS4 Pro are pretty similar in terms of the choice of games. Most of the classics are available on both platforms, and new games typically release with support for both gaming systems. From that perspective, buyers are going to be looking at cost vs capability more than anything else.
The Xbox One X is priced at $100 more than the PS4 Pro, but Xbox One S console owners can get a $100 credit when they trade their console in for an Xbox One X at retailers like GameStop. That brings price parity to Microsoft’s and Sony’s 2017 gaming consoles.
All else being the same, native rendering of 4K content on the Xbox One X seems to be the biggest draw, apart from the Scorpio game engine and hardware upgrades making Xbox One X the “world’s most powerful console,” per Microsoft.
The install base of 4K games is still quite low. One of the reasons for that is the effort that goes into creating 4K games, against the actual user experience enhancement while playing them. However, developers at the recent E3 2017 conference have mostly said that they want to deliver proper 4K for their games:
“At E3 2017, many developers we spoke to said that they would make sure the Xbox One X version was the best. Many of the same developers…have promised to not used checkboarding and get their games up to native 4K unlike their PlayStation 4 Pro games.”
The problem is, the average gamer wouldn’t know the difference between 1080p and 4K unless they compared both side by side. On most computer monitors, 1080p is all you need to achieve a crisp look for your game.
That brings us to Nintendo Switch, which delivers an ‘adequate’ 1080p experience for most games, when played in docked mode.
This strange little gadget with a market-defying form factor has flexibility, mobility, and an entirely different collection of games going for it. It’s not nearly as powerful as either Sony’s or Microsoft’s product, but demand is clearly very high.
Can Nintendo Switch really affect Xbox One X sales?
While Xbox One X might have an edge over PS4 Pro on several fronts, much of that is lost against Nintendo Switch. It’s cheaper, it’s mobile, it delivers an adequate HD experience and, at $299, it’s definitely more attractive to the average buyer.
That said, the key market for Xbox One X is the existing Xbox user base, as an upgrade to the latest model. A small percentage of that market may look at Nintendo Switch as an ideal second console, but they’re going to want their primary gaming system to be what they’re used to.
Another major consideration is a buyer’s involvement with the community of gamers with the same console. If someone’s on Xbox One or Xbox One S and an avid Beam (now called Mixer) broadcaster or participant, they’re likely to stick with Xbox as their next console purchase. In terms of engagement and access to a large collection, we’ve also got to consider Xbox Live, Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Play Anywhere, EA Access and so on.
Backwards compatibility is yet another factor to consider. As gaming titles go, Nintendo Switch doesn’t offer any advantage over Xbox One X, on which you can play hundreds of games from Xbox 360. That not something existing Xbox One users will get if they switch to a PS4 Pro or Nintendo Switch.
Putting all these pieces together, it actually doesn’t look like the Xbox One X will have any major competition from either Sony or Nintendo this year. We might see some loss of traction to the Switch, especially from gamers that aren’t ready to upgrade to the Xbox One X just yet but might want to pick up a Nintendo Switch as a second option. But we’re not likely to see Xbox One X sales suffer because of the Sony PS4 or Nintendo Switch.