Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) is readying for the official launch of its new Xbox Series X video game console as the now decades long-console war enters its newest generation.
From Tuesday, players that have pre-ordered the console will be able to get their first taste of the latest hardware, however Microsoft’s closest, and some would say better, competitor Sony will be launching its new PlayStation 5 console just days later on Thursday.
Microsoft may be hoping to get its new console out slightly ahead due to its current disadvantage in the market, with Sony having dominated the previous generation of consoles as its PlayStation 4 sold a total of around 112.4mln units, more than double the 52.8mln units of Microsoft’s last Xbox iteration, the Xbox One. The company’s last effort was also beaten by Japanese gaming giant Nintendo, which has managed to shift around 63mln of its Nintendo Switch consoles despite being releasing it in 2017, four years after both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
However, Microsoft seems to be hoping that its return to game-focused aspects of the console, as opposed to its previous attempts to market the Xbox One as an ‘all-in-one’ style entertainment system, may be enough to push it ahead of Sony in the newest round of the console wars.
The company is also aiming to tap into the growing market for subscription-based services, with its Game Pass offering players access to a large digital library of games for a monthly fee. Sony, meanwhile, appears to be retaining its current model of selling game discs and individual game downloads a premium prices.
The Xbox Series X is also being touted as the most powerful console on the market in terms of hardware, which may give it an edge with consumers after the best graphics and performance.
Microsoft also seems to be bulking up its video game production capabilities, having picked up ZeniMax Media, the owner of Fallout, Doom and Wolfenstein developer Bethesda Softworks for US$7.5bn in September.
However, the corporation looks like it is on track to lose out to Sony once again, with analysts at Ampere Analysis forecasting in September that the PlayStation 5 will sell around 5mln units this year, ahead of the 3.9mln predicted for the Xbox Series X.
Sony looks set to maintain this lead over the next four years, with Ampere predicting that by 2024 the newest PlayStation will have sold 67.3mln units, compared to 44.3mln for the Xbox.