Xbox marketing chief Mike Nichols talks Xbox One X price, games, and more

The Xbox One X is an all-new 4K HDR console designed for enthusiasts. Whether you have a 4K TV or not, with Xbox One X you will see the benefits of enhanced visuals, improved loading times, and more solid frame rates and resolutions. If you have a 4K display, games will look crisper and more impressive than on any other console on the market today, according to Microsoft.

We caught up with the company's Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for Xbox Mike Nichols to discuss Xbox One X's price, the first-party game lineup, and much more.

Windows Central Q&A with Xbox's Mike Nichols

Windows Central Senior Editor Jez Corden: So, for people who might not be familiar with you and your role at Xbox, could you give us a bit of background on what it is you do?

Mike Nichols: Sure! I have the pleasure of running the marketing team for Xbox. So, on a day like today, when we get a chance to show off all the goodies that our genius engineers are working on, it's a real treat. That's my job.

Let's talk about the "controversial" topic first: the Xbox One X's price. Plenty of commentators, including game analysts and press, have effectively said if Scorpio costs more than $399 it would be "dead on arrival." How do you respond to accusations that Xbox One X is too expensive?

Well, I think the first thing that people need to understand is that the Xbox One X is part of a family. We used the language last year very purposefully that Scorpio would be the newest member of the Xbox One X's family. We wanted to offer a set of choices for gamers. Ranging from, "Hey, here's a great way to get into the Xbox One ecosystem," all the way to a console that's so powerful that it sets a new bar for what console gaming can be. Of course, you can't have one price that scales across both of those objectives.

This is a new standard in console gaming quality.

So, you know, we feel really fantastic about the price for the Xbox One S as a great way to get into the ecosystem, and at the same time, frankly, I'm amazed that we were able to deliver the Xbox One X's specs that are consistent with a $1,200 to $1,500 PC if you'd built it yourself, for only $500. This is a new standard in console gaming quality. And it's at a price that is within the kind of range that has been used successfully in previous consoles.

So I think what we tried to do today was explain what it is that we're trying to get done, focusing on choice for gamers, and reiterate that it's like, "Hey, you can go from an Xbox One S to an Xbox One X, and you have great choice." All games and accessories work across both. If you want to get an Xbox One S today, as many people choose to do, then good news: should you decide to upgrade to an Xbox One X sometime later, all those games and accessories will not only work on it, they'll work better on it. We feel really good about the options we're giving gamers.

Since you guys placed some emphasis on the notion of preserving gaming history, with OG Xbox backward compatibility, do you think that we're no longer going to see generational gaps between consoles now? Is forwards and backward compatibility the norm?

Our goal is for Xbox is to allow gamers to play the great games of the past, present, and future. We've seen such a remarkable response to the backward compatibility program that we announced a couple of years ago: 508 million hours of gameplay on backward-compatibility titles. This does nothing but reinforce to us that it's a great direction to go in. It represents real value for gamers. It's something that we believe in. Phil Spencer has been a great champion of it, personally, and we've got an absolutely great engineering team that frankly has figured out ways around this that we didn't think was possible. They've managed to prioritize it and do it.

Xbox 360 games on Xbox One

Xbox 360 games on Xbox One (Image credit: Microsoft)

If you want to go and buy Halo 5, if you want to go and buy Gears of War 4, or any one of these new titles, the largest lineup of titles we've ever shared at E3 - we want you to know that your investment is safe for the future. Your investment is going to continue on and on. One of the things that we've shown with the Xbox One X is that future innovations of Xbox hardware won't just play old games, they'll play them better [with] faster load times, better resolution, more solid frame rates.

We want you to know that your investment is safe for the future. Your investment is going to continue on and on.

It's not unlike, in some respects, some other forms of digital entertainment. If you have some music, it might play great on lower-end audio hardware, but it'd play even nicer on a high-end audio system. We believe that a lot of the same characteristics should apply to games because these things are precious, they're timeless.

We've seen it, and our buddies at Nintendo saw it with the Classic NES and virtual console. The interest that people have in backward compatibility, even for playing games that are 25 years old, this is something we believe in. And we plan to continue to invest in this area.

Let's talk about the name briefly. Xbox One X was rumored as the name quite a while ago, why did you guys decide to go with this name specifically?

We chose the name, in a lot of respects, inspired by the original Xbox's internal phrase. I was just a customer back then, I went and bought an Xbox just like anybody else, but that phrase stuck with me and it stuck with the team. There were some people on the team that were proposing, "Hey, that line is so true of what we're delivering with Scorpio." Connecting that idea, "there's no power greater than X," along with the notion that we really want to communicate the notion that there's a family of consoles with compatibility between them.

We want you to know that when you go into store, and see a disc with Xbox One on it, that it will work on all of the devices. We needed it to be "Xbox One Something." Xbox One X really came out of that phrase: "There's no power greater than X."

Could we see SKUs with bigger hard drives, or multiple colors? There's that incredible Gears of War laser-cut Xbox One S version for example ...

So the plan that we're announcing now, the initial plan, is the launch with the black coloring that you saw today. We'll have some other news as we get closer and start taking preorders later in the year. Special versions and things like that, that we'll get to. We decided to keep it simple today, considering the tech specs we had to show and all the games we wanted to share. We just decided to spread some things out that we know people will be interested in, that goes in the area of special editions as well.

One of the things I noticed from the presser today was the lack of first-party [games]. You guys showed State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves and Crackdown 3, but I didn't feel as though it was anything we haven't seen before. How do you respond to the idea that Microsoft isn't trying hard enough with its first-party lineup?

We've got some fantastic plans. 343i has fantastic plans for Halo, [and] The Coalition has fantastic plans for Gears of War.

We feel really good about this generation overall for our first-party games and exclusive titles. We sometimes forget about games like Sunset Overdrive, Ryse, and more obviously Halo 5, [and] Gears of War. We feel pretty proud about the lineup of exclusives that are playable on an Xbox One. This year in the show, we decided to really focus on two things. No. 1, mostly games that are shipping between this E3 and next E3. A lot of the games we showed today will be playable today at the show, so you can get more hands-on and come to your own conclusions. We're very proud of them. We think that they're going to show up great. Super Lucky's Tale, Cuphead, Tacoma, and so on, these are all games coming this year.

And to the other point, we wanted to emphasize that this hardware is going to make everything look better. We've got some fantastic plans. 343i has fantastic plans for Halo, [and] The Coalition has fantastic plans for Gears of War. We have plenty of things that we're still working on that we think people are going to be really pumped by. This year, we just really wanted to focus on the games shipping this year, and Scorpio.

Finally, what game coming to Xbox One X, are you most excited for?

Forza. Forza shows the Xbox One X off so well. It's so fantastic. I love auto racing, I love Forza. I think it's going to be amazing.

Forza Motorsport 7 is official, 4K60 on Xbox One X!

Big thanks to Mike Nichols

The Xbox One X is shaping up incredibly well with a vast library of "enhanced" 4K games, including The Witcher 3, plenty of launch exclusives such as PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and showcase AAA games like Forza Motorsport 7, Shadow of War, and Anthem.

Will the Xbox One X help Microsoft make up lost ground with the PlayStation 4? It's too early to say, but I think it's clear Microsoft isn't too worried. The Xbox One X is a console for existing customers who want to upgrade their libraries to the best visuals possible and get the most out of their investments in 4K TVs. The Xbox One S will continue to be the gateway to the ecosystem, which Microsoft is expanding with OG Xbox backward compatibility, and a deluge of games, tons of free feature updates, and the proliferation of UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps, extending the functionality of the console even further.

Keep it locked to Windows Central for all the latest and greatest emerging from E3 2017. And let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • I'm so excited to get one in November. I'm happy with the price. All I need now is to get a 4k TV between now and then 😂
  • I've already warned my wife of the incoming gadgets. I love my 8 year old Samsung 50" plasma, but an Xbox One X coupled with a 65" OLED 4K ... I'll be set for another 5-10 years.
  • I recently saw a Samsung 55" 4k TV with HDR for $550 in Wal-Mart. They are getting considerably cheaper.
  • I already requested for father's day all presents in cash :D
  • The big question is will there be a verson with more then 1TB. 2Tb for a few more dollars would be fantastic.
  • Since they're saying "starting price" I'm sure there will be.
  • Pretty sure they'll release at least a 2TB version for probably around 550€ or 600€ (depending on them offering a 3TB version or not).
  • Anytime I've seen higher storage options, it's better for me to buy the lowest spaced one and add my own HDD. I would prefer getting a 500GB and adding a 2TB FireCuda drive myself
  • Completely agree, 1TB, 2TB or even 3TB isn't enough for me, my current setup is using 6TB. I love the ability to move my external from box to box when I need to.
  • Yep, this. Considering you will fill even a 3 TB eventually. It's better to spend that extra on an external that gives faster load times anyway. I am assuming this will still be the case for the X?
  • I have an 7TB of external HD connected to my Xbox One now. You can just plug that into the One X and start gaming.
  • ^THAT is what I'm looking forward to!!!!!!!!!!!
  • They should have announced the VR capability as well. It should be there. They could have announced it this time and launch it next year. A hype is always good;")
  • Agree, they should have said the machine is VR ready... Or maybe it is not? O.o
  • The only thing I remember from Microsoft's E3 presentations was $499. Hopefully, by the time Sony releases the PS5, Microsoft will be able to slash at least a $100 bucks off the price. 
  • So we can confidently say good bye to generational gaps.
  • Which really ******* sucks because im not trying to buy a new console every 3 years....that was one of the main tenants of just buy a PC if I wanted to upgrade that often
  • But the point is you don't have to upgrade that often if you don't want to. All new games will work just fine on the original Xbox One.  How is a new option a bad thing? 
  • Exactly.
  • For now, no, but I wonder what the console market will look like in 10 years. Its not so much as an extra option being a bad thing, it's more I worry about what will become the norm in the DLC, the online pass or season not a fan of this gouging practice becoming the norm...
  • @KillaRizzay, I anticipate (but don't know, of course) that Microsoft is planning to keep a high and low end model available for the foreseeable future, where games must always run on the lower end console, but can add more graphical detail on the higher end model. Perhaps in a few years, that means the One X will be the cheap, entry level system, and some new higher-end console will be the high end. At that time, there would be an explicit change for developers, where the new minimum console to run is the One X. But as Tom Westrick pointed out, there's no reason why that would have any effect on console lifespans or forced upgrade rates. In fact, it seems if anything it does the opposite, by making it easier for the developer to expand the sales of its game by still releasing the version for the older console, just with diminished graphic fidelity. This extends the useful life of the older console.
  • People complaining about the price just want things for unrealistically cheap prices, sure it would be amazing at $399, even better at $299 but this is the real world where pricing isnt based on fantasy. $499 is pretty cheap for a device capable of 4k@60fps, if you cant afford it, then wait 6/12 months for the price drop... all of the games released for it will also work on you One/One S
  • I can afford it and I still think 500€ for a 1TB console is too much. High capacity HDD drives are NOT expensive anymore. Specially since the market started to shift to SSD. So no. It is not about unrealistic pricing. It's about not offering actual value for the money you're spending on it. And to play 4K games, you WILL need a hell of a lot more disk space. At least until Microsoft stops installing even disc games on the hard drive and makes them run directly from the discs again.
  • If you're not already using an external hard drive you're doing it wrong it begin with. One thing is definitely for sure a 3TB version of this console would have cost as much as buying the 1TB version plus a 5-8TB external hard drive. If you already have an external hard drive all you have to do is pop this thing into you entertainment area, plug in your credentials, hook up the external hard drive, and you're already gaming.... Much faster than doing a transfer.
  • "If you're not already using an external hard drive you're doing it wrong it begin with" No, I'm not. The external hard drive barely makes any difference in loading times. It's immaterial in fact. What isn't is the clutter it causes on my media centre. So, if I can have the storage built into the console, using an external hard drive is just silly. And IF at least Microsoft made the console HDD user-upgradable as Sony makes, THEN one could say "OK, it comes with a miserable 1TB drive but I can upgrade it myself". Problem is, Microsoft doesn't do that. And so, yes, asking 500€ for just 1TB on a console that taunts itself about playing 4K games is a terrible deal.   "One thing is definitely for sure a 3TB version of this console would have cost as much as buying the 1TB version plus a 5-8TB external hard drive." No, it wouldn't. I don't think you know how bulk purchases work, but not only HDD's are cheaper than ever, when you buy them in the quantities Microsoft does to produce the consoles, they become even cheaper.
  • No, I'm not. The external hard drive barely makes any difference in loading times.
    No. That is ridiculous. External makes a massive difference to load times. Also, how many games do you "actively play"? I mean a 1tb hard drive will store a minimum of 10 games... Anytime you want to play a game that isn't already on the internal, pull the external out of a drawer and plug it in? Also - I have an external 4tb and a 120 SSD (SSD for my "game of the moment").. Load times on both are much better than the internal, but the SSD is just insane with the load times.  
    It's about not offering actual value for the money you're spending on it.
      Don't buy it...  If you honestly believe that the value isn't there to warrant a 500 price tag, you should not buy it. Instead, go buy the PC parts required to match the xbox one x specs and see how much it would cost you. You would be looking at $900 easy.   They are selling this console at a loss. Period. They always do with a new console. They try and recoup off of games. Selling it for $400 or less would have just been too big of a loss I guess. Look - I wish there was a larger hard drive in this thing.. but of all the specs and factors to worry about with a new console, the hard drive size is literally the least concerning because it is easily fixable without any tech knowledge whatsoever on your own, and for cheap. Anyone that says the hard drive size is a deal breaker on this console is a little crazy. People raged about 16gb iPhones, and that was prolly justified... cause there was no way to expand it. That problem does not exist here.   Also, speaking of iPhones/Apple... This thing costs $150 more than an Apple Home Pod lol lol lol
  • Well put
  • Interesting. 1TB of storage completely negates the rest of the device? Fortunately, since the One X is even smaller than the One S, that should free up some space in your entertainment centre to add an external drive. Or you can wait until they release a One X with a larger drive, which they will likely do, for a price.
  • Well said
  • Just wait. Sony is going to release the PS5 at $399 with two controllers. Whatever price Microsoft sets, Sony will always undercut it. 
  • hmm.. Its literally always been the oposit, but you could be right. either way, consumers win!
  • People complaining about price are BAGs...(Broke Ass Gamers)
  • "This year in the show, we decided to really focus on two things. No. 1, mostly games that are shipping between this E3 and next E3." This is how every E3 should be.  Only show games that are coming out before the next E3 or coming out by the end of the year.  Nothing is more fustrating than seeing something at E3 that won't come out for another 2-3 years or never because it gets canceled.  Keep up the good work Microsoft, can't wait to play these games on Xbox One X.
  • To be honest, I was disappointed with MS' e3 showing until I read this article and then your comment. The XBOX(Xbox One X) is a beast of a machine and a true manufacturing and engineering achievement. Though a majority of what MS showed are times exclusives, I'm just glad they delivered on their 4K promise. Yes Sony might win e3, but MS put on a spectacle in its own right.
  • Can't wait!
  • $499 is a great price, but it wouldn't cost $1200 to build a comparable pc.
  • To run 4k/60fps consistently? It would cost pretty damn close to $1200
  • 4k on low to medium. The question really becomes if you already have the PC should you buy this or say a 1080ti for around the same price? I personally would go with the GTX 1080ti, but I am a special case since I already own a HTC Vive and a GTX 1070. ^^;
  • I read somewhere this morning that Ark Survival (I've never played it, know nothing about it) was run at 4K on "epic" PC settings on an Xbox One X. They did say the frame rate was variable, but they didn't say the range.
  • Don't know why you are getting downvoted... Everyone keeps saying you could build a 4k/60 machine for around 700. lol That is BS.   CPU
    AMD - Ryzen 5 1500X 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
    $174.88 @ OutletPC M