Microsoft has learned a lot from its experience of launching the Xbox One when it comes to both the pricing and the capabilities of the upcoming Xbox Project Scarlett – and it doesn't want to repeat the mistakes it acknowledges making with that console.
In an interview with The Verge (opens in new tab), Microsoft's head of Xbox Phil Spencer stated that the company learned a lot from the current console generation.
“I would say a learning from the Xbox One generation is we will not be out of position on power or price,” Spencer told The Verge. “If you remember the beginning of this generation we were a hundred dollars more expensive and yes, we were less powerful. And we started Project Scarlett with this leadership team in place with a goal of having market success.”
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But what lessons?
The Xbox One faced criticism at launch due to its high price point – the console had packed in a load of features that made it more expensive, but which people didn't really use. Yes, that's right, we're talking about Kinect.
Eventually Microsoft removed the Kinect integration and the price came down a bit, but, by that point, the more powerful PS4 had become a more viable console. Microsoft conceded defeat pretty quickly.
This time, Microsoft is placing a lot of importance on righting those wrongs – mainly to ensure that it can go head to-head with Sony's PS5. However, that certainly doesn't mean Xbox Scarlett will be cheap – it just means the price will be commensurate with the power of the console.
In an interview with Windows Central earlier this year, Jason Ronald, Microsoft's partner director of program management, spoke about launch plans for Xbox Scarlett – including how pricing is being considered.
“We understand what reasonable price points are for a console and kind of what customers expect about that,“ Ronald said. “At the same time to you, we are innovating we are pushing the boundaries of some of this… We're not sharing any details on price, or, you know, more detailed specs at this point. But I will say that we're very confident in what we're building, something that will set a new bar for expectations of console gaming.“
In other words, it doesn't sound like Xbox Scarlett will be cheap, but it does sound like Microsoft is keen to ensure the next-generation console's price tag is justified.
Xbox Project Scarlett is due for release in late 2020.