Price tags are a funny thing; they can ruin your day or change your entire outlook on life and success. A price tag with a number you can actually afford to pay without being destitute is a beautiful thing. A price tag with a number too high will force you into existential questions like, “Why am I working?” and “Who thought that was affordable.” The price tag of Microsoft’s Xbox One console has straddled both extremes this year. That’s sort of amazing.

I remember being so excited for the Xbox One’s launch last year. It wasn’t until June or July that it occurred to me, purchasing one would be the equivalent of paying the next month’s rent for my tiny Richmond, Virginia apartment. On second thought, $499 with a game would have slightly eclipsed my rent, actually.

I agonized over the decision for weeks. Then I realized it was a luxury item and I could afford. (I’m not big on buying luxury items usually.) If the Xbox One had been the price it is today, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

If the Xbox One had been the price it is today, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

Last night Target wrapped up a deal that had it giving every Xbox One buyer a $70 gift card for anything else in the store. Amazon, Best Buy and GameStop did roughly the same thing, offering up $50 for each Xbox One console sold. Each of these consoles included Assassin’s Creed Unity and Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, roughly $90 in free games. That special holiday pricing is still going on too; an Xbox One costs $349.99 without a Kinect 2 sensor and $449 with a Kinect 2 sensor.

No, technology prices haven’t fallen that much in a year. Microsoft is using its wealth of cash to lavish bundles on Xbox One buyers and entice those on the fence to upgrade from an Xbox 360 to an Xbox One. I’m seeing more of my friend’s Xbox Live gamer tags show their status as “browsing home” or “Friends.” I’m being asked more about the things the Xbox One can do and the features the Kinect 2 sensor have to offer. Eight months ago, the Xbox One was an afterthought, another sign that Microsoft still didn’t know what it was doing in the consumer space. Today, it’s the obvious choice for hard core gamers on a budget and entertainment lovers who don’t spend all of their free time playing video games.

Cutting the price of a device like the Xbox One is dangerous. It could have been seen as a sign that the console was dead or that Microsoft planned to divorce itself from the entire industry. It’s clear that it isn’t. For the first time in almost a year, the Xbox One was the most purchased console in North America and the United Kingdom.

Turns out, fixing your consumer product is easy. Give people the features they need. Distance yourself from the policies and behavior that got you into trouble in the first place. Use your pile of cash to light a fire under holiday shoppers. Bundle every hit game with your console.

It’s crazy what lowering a price can do.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.