Microsoft has announced a new UK-exclusive bundle for the Xbox One. From 28 February the device will go on sale for £399.99 (a £30 cut) with a download code for Titanfall, an Xbox exclusive playable from March 14th that is already being hailed by some as ‘the next Halo’.
The bundle will also include a month’s access to Xbox Live Gold, the multiplayer subscription service necessary for online play.
The most recent sales figures suggest that Sony has pulled ahead of Microsoft by a significant margin in the console wars. In February the Japanese company announced that they had sold 5.3 million PS4s. Microsoft, by comparison, reported shipped (not selling) only 3.9 million units.
Slashing the ticket price will be an obvious way of balancing out the two consoles. Priced at £349, the PS4 is £80 cheaper, although the disparity between the two consoles is generally attributed to Microsoft’s decision to include the Kinect 2.0 motion sensor with its machine. The company says that the Kinect is “integral” to future plans for the device.
However, it seems likely that it will be the inclusion of Titanfall – rather than the price-cut – that will be the real draw for gamers. This multiplayer-only sci-fi shooter has received overwhelming positive coverage in the specialist press, with a recent beta of the game (a ‘first draft’ that solicits feedback from fans) attracting more than two million players.
Finding a ‘killer app’ (a phrase that is used generally in computing to refer to a piece of software becomes a must have for consumers) can make or break a piece hardware and ever since the 1978 arcade title Space Invaders was released for the Atari 2600 in 1980, video game consoles have proved to be particularly susceptible to this particular market pressure.
In 2001 Microsoft’s killer-app was Halo, another sci-fi shooter that had actually been poached from Apple and that introduced a then-revolutionary game mechanic of regenerating health. This added a sense of reckless fun to the gameplay (players no longer had to continually seek out health packs) games in the Halo franchise have now sold more 50 million copies worldwide.
Microsoft will be hoping that Titanfall (which is released on general sale from 14th March) can repeat this success. The game has been praised for its cat-and-mouse dynamic between fleet-footed human pilots and lumbering (but powerful) mechas, or humanoid robots.