Microsoft will release its next-generation Xbox One console this November in 21 markets for $499 in the U.S, the company announced Monday the Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference in Los Angeles.
The original Xbox 360, which debuted in the U.S. in 2005 for $399. Oddly enough, the Xbox One's starting price is more akin to that of Sony's current-generation PlayStation 3 console, which drew criticism from game critics and fans when it first hit the market a year after the Xbox 360 and for $499 or $599, depending on the model.
Revealed during a two-hour presentation that was packed full of new gameplay trailers and announcements, the Xbox One price was the one hardware detail that Microsoft brought to the stage with it for its keynote address for this year's E3. The company did not give a more specific release date than November, and said nothing about some of the console's more controversial features such as its Internet connectivity requirements and used games policies. While Microsoft clarified some of these concerns in a lengthy series of statements provided late last week, it is expected to go into further detail about the Xbox One's specs and features later in E3.
The $499 price tag also puts the Xbox One in a different category than Ninendo's Wii U console, which debuted last November for $299. While analysts have been largely skeptical about the Wii U's commercial prospects amidst mounting competition from rival console developers, Webush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told NBC News last week that Nintendo would only really have to start worrying about its new console if the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were priced competitively enough to essentially nudge it out of the market.
Sony, for its part, has not said anything about the pricing or availability of its rival next-generation console, the PlayStation 4, except to note that it plans to release the device in time for the 2013 holiday season. The company is expected to reveal more information about the PS4's hardware later today at its E3 press conference. Many analysts such as Pachter expect the two devices to be almost identical in terms of their starting price and launch schedule.
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: email@example.com.