Microsoft was king of the video game hill with the Xbox 360, but things haven’t gone nearly as well for the Xbox One. A significant stumble at launch muted momentum for the console and gave Sony a chance to take what’s assumed to be a significant sales lead. As of Tuesday, though, Microsoft is hoping to regain that momentum.
The Xbox One X, a system Microsoft is describing as the most powerful console available today, is officially on sale. Priced at $499, twice the cost of the standard Xbox One, it launches with the support of 70 enhanced titles that will make the most of its horsepower.
There’s a lot under the hood. Without getting too deep in the technical weeds, Xbox One X is a system built for 4K gaming. It includes a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player and has a graphics and computer processing unit that means faster load times and smoother graphics, even on a regular HD TV.
That’s an impressive spec sheet, but will it be enough to lure customers? Sony’s PlayStation 4 has sold more than 60 million units worldwide. No one knows how many Xbox One units have been sold. Microsoft stopped giving sales updates in 2015. But software sales and a shift in publisher exclusives to Sony indicate the PlayStation 4 has a healthy lead over the Xbox One.
Nintendo, meanwhile, which was a non-factor at the launch of Xbox One and PS4, is on a tear, with Nintendo Switch still regularly selling out at retail. The system is also home to two of the best reviewed titles of the year: Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Without a new Halo game or some other blockbuster title that fully takes advantage of the Xbox One X’s capabilities, luring people away from the competition is going to be tough. And analysts say that, initially at least, Microsoft probably will have a rough time doing so.
“We expect [Xbox One X] to underwhelm at retail, as has PS4 Pro, which costs $399,” said Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities in a note to investors in June, when pricing was announced.