Even before the launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 last fall, it has seemed like Microsoft has been playing from behind. This came as a result of a number of reasons, most specifically the fiasco that was the announcement of DRM and no used games, among other issues. However, Microsoft did a 180 and decided against these features, which won some fans back, but it really did hurt their creditability with some gamers. Then after launch, reports of the Xbox One versions of games being inferior to those on PlayStation 4 began to surface as many games struggled to hit 1080p.
With Black Friday technically starting later today at many retailers, the topic of whether Microsoft may finally manage to scrape out a win from under Sony with their Xbox One in November seems very relevant. Initially, the Xbox One launched at a price point of $499.99, which also came with the much upgraded Kinect. However, it was impossible to buy a bundle that did not come without the near useless accessory for most game releases on the console. That all changed around E3 2014, as Microsoft announced the unbundling of the console for only $399.99, putting it in direct competition with the PlayStation 4, though still seen as coming with less power by a majority of gamers.
Some experts predicted we may see the Xbox One finally win a month back in September, behind the power of Madden NFL 15, Destiny, and FIFA 15, all of which sold best on the Microsoft side in the last generation. However, the Xbox One once again fell short as the PlayStation 4 grew by near double.
Even after getting squashed for the entire last year since release of both current-gen consoles, Microsoft is all of a sudden feeling extremely confident. In advance of the holidays, they announced a special price cut to $349 for not just the base system, but also the Assassin’s Creed and Sunset Overdrive bundles. In addition, the Call of Duty 1 TB bundle was also slashed by $50 to $449.99.
These prices seemed strong enough as is, but retailers have taken it a whole other step with Black Friday. Many retailers have discounted the Assassin’s Creed bundle to only $329.99 for a day or two, while also throwing in gift cards. Target specifically is offering the Assassin’s Creed bundle upon opening later today for the aforementioned $329.99, with an extra $50 gift card thrown in as well. For someone that wants both of the games coming in the bundle, the consumer is only paying about $180 for the console, as the two games typically retail for $59.99 and $39.99, and the $50 gift card can be used on anything in the store including other games, groceries, or other necessities. This is almost unheard of for a new system only a year after release, which is bound to catch the attention of many shoppers.
The PlayStation 4 has remained steady with sales, but it will not be having near the deals of the Xbox One this coming weekend, the biggest shopping days of the year. The bundle with Grand Theft Auto V and The Last of Us Remastered is great, but it still comes at the base price of $399.99 and features two remakes of games also found on last-gen consoles.
In addition, Microsoft has had the much stronger holiday season exclusives wise that could attract gamers to their consoles. Starting with Forza Horizon 2 in late September, the console has also gotten Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection in a span of a month. Not to mention all of the third-party games out there that have released, such as Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, which specifically will be getting the DLC ahead of its PlayStation 4 counterpart.
In comparison, PlayStation 4 has had the release of Driveclub in comparison to Forza Horizon 2, but the latter was much more well received, especially due to Driveclub’s problems that have scared a lot of people off entirely. Halo: The Master Chief Collection has had its own problems, but the Halo name can still easily win back gamers much more than something new like Driveclub. The only other major PlayStation 4 release of the holiday season is LittleBigPlanet 3, which is tied to a very niche market.
The big question on what happens this month will be how much the majority of gamers care about console power and resolutions. Grand Theft Auto V for example has proven to be a better experience on PlayStation 4 for the little things like more foliage throughout. However, the mass audience may never know about this and just buy the consoles based on other reasons.
How do you think the month of November will shake out? Will Microsoft’s major moves net them a victory in the NPD finally or will Sony and the PlayStation 4 continue to cruise along with ease? If there is a time for Microsoft to finally take over, this seems like it would be it, at least in the short term. Make sure to let us know your predictions in the comments below and we’ll find out soon enough if Microsoft’s shakeups and strong holiday lineup were enough to win November.