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Console Wars: Is Microsoft Preparing to Go on the Offensive with Free Xbox Live?

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Posted on June 20, 2013 AT 12:34pm

A day after the blockbuster news, first reported by Giant Bomb, that Microsoft was orchestrating a full retreat from their original plans to limit user access to content and require daily connectivity to their servers to play games, EGM has learned from a source that the company is now contemplating additional moves to create parity with Sony’s PlayStation 4.

One of these considerations—which the source said is being discussed—is to bundle the Xbox One with a free period of Xbox Live Gold and provide other incentives that, in light of Sony’s announcement that they will begin charging for online multiplayer, would bridge the price difference between the two consoles. “The cost [of Xbox One] will be comparable to PlayStation 4 after all the multiplayer costs are factored in,” the source indicated.

All of these moves come in the wake of one of the worst brand launches since New Coke.  “Xbox One was getting killed last week,” explained another insider with knowledge of pre-order activity at a smaller mass-market retail chain. “The pre-order figures were heavily favoring PlayStation 4 in the days after E3.” This type of consumer sentiment could have put Microsoft at risk of losing the next-gen console battle before it even began.

According to the source, Microsoft hopes that Xbox One users will ultimately choose to embrace many of the features that caused concern after the system’s unveiling. “[They] still believe strongly that their original business model contains many revolutionary features that consumers can be incentivized to adopt or that consumers will activate on their own,” the source revealed.

Time, as it always does, will tell if this new approach yields the results that Microsoft originally hoped for with the Xbox One and their broader strategies.

Update: EGM received the following statement from a Microsoft press spokesperson:

“We believe that $499 is a great value given the premium games and entertainment that are delivered in this system.  We are always exploring new offers, but have nothing further to share at this time.”

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