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Microsoft Drops Xbox Price, Opens Apps to Everyone

13 May, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

Microsoft May 13 announced it will offer a $400 version of its Xbox One, slashing $100 off the original price of the console, in an effort to catch up with sales of Sony’s PlayStation 4. The price cut comes just six months after Microsoft debuted the console.

The $400 Xbox One, available June 9, comes without the Kinect, the voice- and motion-control sensor system that was standard with the original Xbox One. Microsoft will make the Kinect available as a separate add-on.

“We’re excited to respond to our fans, who’ve told us they’d like to have more options on how to get an Xbox One,” said Xbox spokesman Yusuf Mehdi.

Additionally, Microsoft announced it was opening up access to all its apps — more than 170 — to every owner of both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Before an Xbox Live Gold membership was needed to access everything from Netflix to Amazon Instant Video.

“Coming in June, anyone with an Xbox will be able to access popular entertainment experiences — whether or not you have an Xbox Live Gold membership,” said Xbox chief Phil Spencer. “This includes great gaming apps like Machinima, Twitch and Upload, popular video services like Netflix, Univision Deportes, GoPro, Red Bull TV and HBO Go, sports experiences like the NFL app for Xbox One, MLB.tv, NBA Game Time, NHL Game Center and more.

“We’ve heard that you want more choices from Xbox One. You want a wide variety of options in your games and entertainment experiences and you also want options in your hardware selection.”

To keep Xbox Live Gold members on board, Microsoft will offer subscribers free games, exclusive discounts and a members-only VIP area online.

Spencer stressed that the Kinect system remains “an important part of our vision.”

“We will continue to offer a premium Xbox One with Kinect bundle to deliver voice and gesture controls, biometric sign-in, instant personalization, instant scanning of QR codes, and enhanced features only available with Kinect in games such as Kinect Sports Rivals, Just Dance 2014, Project Spark and more,” he said.

As of mid-April, Microsoft said it has sold more than 5 million Xbox Ones, while Sony said it has sold more than 7 million PlayStation 4s.

Michael Pachter, analyst with Wedbush Securities, wrote in a note to investors that Microsoft was wise to close the $100 price gap between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, with the Kinect not being “a must-have item by many core gamers, at least not yet.”

“In our view, the sales data was not driven primarily by Xbox One’s later release date, or by inferior content (on the contrary, as EA's Titanfall was exclusive to Microsoft consoles),” he wrote. “Instead, we believe that in the minds of many consumers, Microsoft failed to justify charging $100 more than its rival for Kinect.”

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