I’m skeptical this thing will sell
“The world’s most powerful console”, the Xbox One (XB1) X, launched worldwide on November 7 for a $600 CAD. The console, announced by Microsoft one year ago at E3 2016, promised AAA gaming at stunning 4K resolution and silky 60 frames per second. The XB1 X dwarfs older XB1 models, and all Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) consoles in hardware specifications. It’s most comparable to the PS4 Pro. Both consoles use AMD SOCs with similar architecture, but differ greatly in graphics capabilities; They both employ AMD’s 4th generation “Graphics Core Next” GPU architecture, but additional graphics compute cores with higher clock speeds allow Microsoft’s console to perform 1.4 times more floating-point operations per second than the PS4 Pro, meaning far stronger graphics capabilities for the Xbox.
The uber-powerful XB1 X became the fastest pre-selling Xbox ever, but was this enough put Xbox back in competition with PlayStation? In June, official PS4 sales exceeded 60 million units worldwide, whereas estimated worldwide XB1 sales were about 33 million units. Combined with the fact that the PS4 is beefier than the XB1, and easier to program because of it’s unified memory architecture, game developers favour developing for PlayStation; it makes the most sense financially. The XB1 X may have the best hardware, but why would developers spend time to use of all that power when they could be optimizing for the two thirds of the market on PS4? This compels less people to buy Xbox, creating a vicious cycle of declining developer support and unit sales. Further, since Microsoft guaranteed the release of all Xbox exclusives on Windows, PC gaming is a viable option for graphics enthusiasts, especially since desktop PCs are versatile, upgradeable, multipurpose machines. A desktop PC outperforming the XB1 X costed Alaina Yee of PCWorld less than $900 CAD. Cheaper PCs can also offer gaming performance roughly equivalent to the XB1 X, and can be relatively inexpensively upgraded, in time, to far outperform any console. The XB1 X makes sense as a purchase for Xbox enthusiasts, or those who want 4K gaming right away without the hassle of PC building, who also accept PC is the better platform for graphics enthusiasts. I’m skeptical sales from these groups, plus sales of other Xbox models that the XB1 X launch drives, will be enough for Xbox to start competing with PlayStation in unit sales this console generation.