Microsoft is perfectly entitled to charge $499 for Xbox One – but it will need to convince the public that the RRP is justified.
That’s the verdict of Activision Publishing boss Eric Hirshberg, who believes that $499 is a viable RRP providing consumers are convinced that they’re getting value money.
“It's up to [Microsoft] to win the value argument,” Hirshberg told Games Industry. “If you do a focus group of a gazillion people and you show them two prices for two competitive products, 100 per cent always prefer the lower price. I think from a first impression standpoint the win goes to Sony, at least as it relates to pricing.
“Microsoft is going to have to win the hearts and minds and convince people that the higher price point is worth it, and that it provides really meaningful capabilities that will be meaningful to consumers. And it's a long game, so I am sure that's what they intend on trying to do.”
Asked whether the inclusion of the Kinect camera with the console – something Sony has decided against with PS4 – is enough to win the emotive battle, Hirshberg answered: “I think it's the same answer; I feel they have to show why that's a good thing and why it's worth the premium and deserves inclusion and why it's something that gamers are going to come to really value and appreciate.
“It's going to be a fun battle to watch.”
Hirshberg also downplayed concerns that the next-generation console market will be unable to replicate the successes of the current and more recent generations that have gone before it.
“The console market has proven itself to be one of the more stable ones in all of entertainment,” he argued. “It has shown far more staying power than any other gaming platform ever. Yes, we can hypothesize about meteors hitting the earth that would render anybody's business strategy ineffective.
“And I would also point to our history, at a time long before I was at the company, where people used to prognosticate that Activision was slow to respond to PC gaming and to MMORPGs as well. I think we've shown a pretty good ability to make the right moves at the right time, to a) bring people games that they want to play, and b) do it in ways that we can realize a good return on our investment. I don't see that changing.”