After last year’s PS5 price hike, Microsoft has announced its own increase. Though, so far it is only affecting one region. Xbox Series X and Series S prices are set to rise in Japan on February 17.
A price hike of 5,000 yen across both Microsoft consoles is set to come into effect next month. That’s the equivalent of $38.33 / £31.14 / AU$ 54.84. This will raise the suggested retail price of the Xbox Series X from 54,978 yen to 59,978 yen, while the Xbox Series S will rise from 32,278 yen to 37,978 yen – now costing $459.67 / £373.02 / AU$656.82 and $291.10 / £236.20 / AU$415.90, respectively.
“After carefully evaluating the market condition in Japan, we have decided to change the suggested retail price of Xbox consoles in the country,” Microsoft Japan said in a statement translated by Gematsu (opens in new tab). “We regularly evaluate the impact of local pricing to maintain reasonable consistency across regions. This price revision affects our customers and was a difficult decision to make, but going forward we will continue to provide the ultimate Xbox experience that our customers expect”.
This increase follows Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s refusal to rule out a price hike last year. Spencer made it clear that “[Microsoft’s] always evaluating our business going forward, so I don’t think we can ever say on anything that we will never do something.” It looks like Xbox has decided to do “something” after all, at least when it comes to the Japanese market.
5,000 big ones
The Yen has been struggling against the dollar throughout 2022. Though it has been steadily recovering since November, exchange rate anxieties may well count towards the “local pricing” concerns that Microsoft Japan mentioned in its statement. It is still unclear whether or not the Yen will recover, so caution on the part of Microsoft’s Japanese arm makes sense, given the more delicate economic environment.
From Game Pass to significant Black Friday deals, Microsoft has offered some great deals on Xbox in recent years, often making Sony look out of touch by comparison. However, we know that Microsoft is hiking the price of first-party exclusives, so perhaps more price rises in the future are possible. In last year's interview, Spencer made it clear that “we have no plans today to raise the price of our consoles”, but he made no commitments as to price rises in the future.
It is possible, though by no means confirmed, that the Japanese price rises are a form of market testing for a more global price hike. Though we have no idea whether or not Microsoft intends to roll out price rises outside of Japan, if you’re in the market for a new console, I would advise buying sooner rather than later just to be on the safe side.