Why Xbox One X is worth $499 — and why it might not be

Xbox One X's price has finally been revealed, giving us an idea of how much you'll have to spend to pick up this beastly, six-teraflop game console.

Internet reactions have thus far been mixed, with many outlets and prominent commentators long decrying any version of Xbox One X that would cost more than $399.

Of course, we now know that Xbox One X starts at $499, which puts it in line with the disastrous launch of the original Xbox One back in 2013. Is Microsoft making the same mistakes again? The short answer: no. Times have changed, and One X is catering to a vastly different audience than the original Xbox One.

Here's why Xbox One X's $499 price is just fine, along with a few reasons why it may prove to be too expensive after all.

Microsoft unveils Xbox One X, releasing November 7

Why Xbox One X is worth $500

1. You get a true 4K experience

With Xbox One X, you will get a genuine 4K experience. You get a 4K Blu-ray player, and you get a 4K game DVR and streaming device. You get 4K media playback across Netflix and other services. And ultimately, you get true 4K "AAA," top-tier modern games.

If you think One X is too expensive, buy something else.

Obtaining 4K at 60 frames per second (4K60) in a game like Star Wars Battlefront II would be simply impossible for any Windows PC build, and the GPU alone would cost more than $499. Unless you're planning to omit features like an optical drive, and even the PC case itself, you're not even going to approach $499. And even then, you'd probably end up getting fewer features than One X.

One X represents true value for people who want to game and get the most out of their 4K TVs.

2. Xbox is alive and well

Contrary to the "market share this, and market share that" narrative, Xbox is actually doing very well. Xbox Live engagement is on the rise. All of those extra Xbox Live users, whether they're on Windows 10 PCs, Xbox, or even Android or iOS in games like Age of Empires: Castle Siege, they're all spending money on Microsoft digital goods and services.

This is the only metric Microsoft is interested in, and One X is designed to serve the hardcore users of the tens of millions already deeply invested in the Xbox ecosystem. A healthy business is only going to lead to better games and services for Xbox owners, who already see tons of free content and feature updates on a near-monthly basis.

3. The average Xbox gamer can afford it

As per our leaked Xbox Live demographics, more than 40 percent of Xbox One owners fall within the $50,000 to $100,000 annual income range. If you're buying a 65-inch OLED 4K HDR TV for Xbox One X, you're probably not concerned about the $500 price point.

We live in a world of profitable micro-economies, and few hardware makers have learned this as well as Microsoft. Redmond's Surface lineup represents some of the most prestigious PCs available, and despite similar hardware from Dell, HP and other OEMs that often sport higher specs but are cheaper, people still buy Surfaces because they value the brand and experience.

This isn't even really a fair comparison because while a lot of the Surface brand's value versus its competition is probably subjective, Xbox One X empirically represents high value with its features and specs versus its competition. There will be people out there tweeting that One X is too expensive as they type away on their $800 iPhones.

4. This time no one will be left behind

When Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One at $499, it was a big problem. So why won't the same be true for One X? Simply put, this time, nobody will be left behind.

Xbox One X is fully backward and forwards compatible with the entire Xbox One library.

If Xbox One X was a generational leap with exclusive games, at $499 many dedicated Xbox fans would be left out of the party. This time, that isn't the case.

Xbox One X is fully backward and forwards compatible with the entire Xbox One library. Whether it's backward compatible Xbox 360 games, expensive Xbox One accessories you purchased, or your hundreds of games, they'll all work on Xbox One X. Some will work even better on Xbox One X.

If you're an Xbox fan without the funds, you can simply wait for a price drop. You won't miss out on any of the games, because they'll just work on One X when you eventually decide to upgrade.

5. Xbox One S price cut

If you are concerned about the overall market share of Xbox affecting the quality of its ecosystem, you needn't worry, because the Xbox One S just got an aggressive price cut to $249.

At $249, the Xbox One S is the perfect console for anyone who wants to get into 4K in the future. Let's be completely honest – 4K is the future. It's not as if humanity is going to collectively agree that 1080p is enough.

The Xbox One S will drive market share, which is what Microsoft said all along, with Xbox One X spearheading the push into the 4K future.

These are all good reasons to pony up for $500 for the new Xbox. However, there are some potential concerns with this price point that you should be aware of.

Why Xbox One X might not be worth $500

1. Media backlash

The biggest issue with the $499 price point is the inevitable media backlash. Gaming research analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities already famously said that if One X costs more than $399 it will be dead on arrival. It seems like much of the gaming media agrees.

Other influential figures across YouTube and social media will probably jump on the backlash bandwagon, too, and it could serve to hinder any Xbox marketing efforts that demonstrate Xbox One X's value and quality. Ultimately, none of this should matter to the Xbox customer, because it's all just fanboy console war fodder. If you think Xbox One X is too expensive, buy something else. That's what we do with phones and PCs. Now that consoles are no longer generational stop-gaps, why should they be different?

However, the perception that market share is to blame for the Xbox One missing out on certain games could be cause for some to worry that Microsoft isn't competitive enough. Time will tell if Microsoft can continue to create a compelling ecosystem out of Xbox without aggressively chasing Sony's market share.

2. How many games will actually use Xbox One X's power?

It's a common talking point in the industry that AAA game development costs are spiraling out of control. With consoles and PCs getting increasingly powerful, even the biggest companies are struggling to justify the risk factor involved with bigger costs.

With the PlayStation (PS4) Pro sporting a large headstart on Xbox One X, you have to wonder whether One X versions of the same games will just be ports that don't utilize the additional power provided by the new console.

Microsoft will have to demonstrate that Xbox One X will have a decent size lineup of 4K games that make picking up the console a better option than Sony's offering.

3. Is it still too early for 4K?

While 4K gaming is undoubtedly the future, I'm not sure whether 4K alone is compelling enough of a reason to persuade people to choose Xbox over PlayStation.

I'm sure Microsoft has data that contradicts what I'm about to say, but when it comes to choosing a console (and an ecosystem) I'd always choose the one with the most compelling exclusive games, rather than the one with games that have the best graphics.

If you don't think Xbox One X represents good value, don't buy it.

Sony's focus on quality exclusive titles such as Persona 5, Nioh, Nier Automata, Horizon Zero Dawn, and the upcoming The Last of Us 2 and God of War, makes PlayStation incredibly enticing, to the point where I'd forego native 4K on multiplatform titles.

I don't really_have_ to choose between PC, Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch, but for those who prefer to stick to one ecosystem, Microsoft could still have something to prove when it comes to exclusive titles, particularly because the company seems to be targeting the core 25- to 35-year-old gamers.

Only time will tell

Ultimately, it's too early to say whether Microsoft's pricing strategy for Xbox One X will pay off or not, despite what the so-called "experts" will tell you.

If you don't think Xbox One X represents good value, don't buy it. If you think PS4 Pro is a better option, that's perfectly fine. If you think you'd rather put the money towards a 4K60 gaming PC, that is also a great option, because the bulk of 4K gaming content is always going to be on PC first.

However, if you want a sleek and sexy video game console that powers your existing Xbox library, provides simple and easy 4K media solutions to your TV, with 4K game capture and the best-looking games possible for $499 – Xbox One X is the best (and only) option.

Let us know what you think of Xbox One X's price in the comments.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at 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 tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!