unveiled its next Xbox video game console on Sunday, pitching it as the most powerful console ever and a major upgrade from its predecessor.
The Xbox One X, to be available starting on Nov. 7, sports a processor with 8 2.3GHz cores, 12GB of memory, along with other specs that beat out Sony’s PS4 Pro, and will help it run games at high frame rates in 4k ultra HD resolution.
But it’s not quite the sort of generational jump that Microsoft made from from the Xbox 360 to Xbox One, since all the same games will be playable on Xbox One and Xbox One X. All accessories for the Xbox One, and even some older Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles, will also be compatible with the Xbox One X. Older games will get a variety of graphical and performance enhancements on the new platform.
The new console will cost $499, the same as the original Xbox One in 2014. That’s higher than the $399 launch price of Sony's original PlayStation 4, meaning Microsoft will have to work hard to convince gamers the upgrade is worth it.
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Microsoft, which announced the new console in prelude to this week's E3 video game conference in Los Angeles, is trying to play catch up in the console wars, with the PlayStation 4 decisively outselling the Xbox One in recent years. That's mostly attributable to Sony's better lineup of exclusive games, including critically lauded titles like Bloodborne, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Uncharted 4. The importance of software to console success was further driven home this year by the successful launch of the Nintendo Switch, which is less graphically powerful than the new One X, but launched with the critically-acclaimed exclusive game Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
In listing its new games for the Xbox One, Microsoft didn't provide decisive evidence that it was battling back with many compelling exclusives of its own. The presentation touted many games as merely "console launch exclusives," suggesting that they will eventually be available on competing consoles.
There were three notable exceptions. The racing game Forza 7 is specially designed to run on the Xbox One X, providing the most graphical oomph of any featured game. The multiplayer battle royale game Player Unknown's Battlegrounds has gained tremendous traction on PC, and will be a "console exclusive" for Xbox One--i.e. not available on PlayStation 4. And the Xbox One exclusive Crackdown 3 may have been the sleeper of the presentation. Although not widely recognized because the last installment was released nearly seven years ago, the Crackdown series is fondly remembered by gamers of a certain age.
All of the One X's power under the hood might not make up for those slim pickings when it comes to getting people to buy its latest hardware.
There was another notable omission from Microsoft on Sunday. Though the company has been pushing forward with its HoloLens ‘mixed reality’ headset, there was no mention of virtual reality games or HoloLens compatibility for the One X.