Microsoft announces release date for new Xbox One X
New games console will also be compatible with older Xbox games and accessories
Microsoft has announced a worldwide release date for what it promises will be its smallest and most powerful video-game console ever, the Xbox One X.
The device, which will be priced at $499, is designed to work with a new generation of 4K television sets that offer greater picture quality as well as games that offer ever-more-realistic scenes of car races and fantasy worlds.
Microsoft confirmed the One X, which will also be compatible with older Xbox games and accessories, will go on sale in the US on November 9th.
Microsoft and rival Sony are trying to update their video-game machines more frequently to phase out the notion of upgrading once every seven years or so - the rate at which companies traditionally have released a new generation of consoles.
Microsoft’s latest machine, originally known as Project Scorpio, is designed for the high-end gamer who wants the best features and performance and who owns a TV capable of displaying the most advanced graphics.
Microsoft said the console will feature an 8-core custom AMD CPU clocked at 2.3GHz “to bring enhanced AI, real world detail, and smoother interactions”.
It will also feature 12GB GDDR5 of graphic memory and a 6 Teraflop GPU and 326 GB/sec memory bandwidth.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer said the new system would also feature the “most diverse” line-up of games ever produced by the firm. During a during a showcase ahead of E3, one of the gaming industry’s largest conventions, Microsoft showed off 42 games, from the Egyptian-themed Assassin’s Creed Origins to the Forza Motorsport 7 racing game, which features a partnership with Porsche.
The Xbox boss also announced that the console’s backward compatibility scheme — which enables old games from previous consoles to be played on the newest systems — was being extended to the original Xbox.
Mr Spencer said video games should be “celebrated” in the same way as books and films.
“Xbox empowers game developers, large and small, to create different types of games for every type of player,” he said. “Not only do we have the biggest cross-platform blockbusters on our platform, we’ve also scoured the world to bring our fans unique content from creative artists that capture the imagination.”
“They are trying to attract people who want to be able to use the advanced features of TVs they’ve invested in,” said analyst Brian Blau. “Not everyone will want that if they can get a good experience on the less-expensive console.”
Microsoft has previously stumbled by pricing an older Xbox too high. Initial sales for the Xbox One when it debuted in 2013 were hurt by the $499 price tag, and only picked up after the cost was cut. Sony faced similar issues in 2006 when it released the PlayStation 3, which cost $500 to $600.
“Price has played an important role in the launch success,” said Mike Vorhaus, president of consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates. “The guy with the less expensive box has done very well. I expect that will continue, absent some amazing paradigm shift.”
While console makers have failed to demonstrate demand for a machine that requires an investment of more than $400, Microsoft is hoping the strategy will appeal to the most dedicated gamers. That focus marks a continued shift back to its core gaming demographic, after the Redmond, Washington-based company was faulted by some for targeting the initial Xbox One at more of a general entertainment audience.