Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, discusses the Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One X, at the Xbox E3 2017 Briefing on Sunday, June 11, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images)

Why the $499 Xbox One X price makes sense

There are a lot of mixed opinions on the Xbox One X’s $499 (US) price point. Sure, it’s the highest priced console on the market right now and doesn’t physically look all that different from Xbox One S. But the old adage holds true: it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

When the Xbox team took to their E3 Media Briefing to announce the new console, they did so by mentioning Teraflops, memory bandwidth, and pixel counts. The console, by and large, perhaps with the exception of anyone who needs to have the latest and greatest regardless of spec, is designed for people who actually know what these things mean.

When Phil Spencer often remarked about designing a premium console that would fetch a premium price, he was setting the market up to understand that the console wouldn’t be designed–not initially, at least–to be a mass market product, but rather one of higher performance in exchange for a smaller install base.

Those consumers who are interested in a very powerful console capable of 4K-resolution movies and HDR-enabled games are able to opt for the Xbox One S for less than $300 (US). Those who are looking to save even more can pick up an original Xbox One for around $200 (US). Those who are looking for the most powerful machine on the market–likely a group of people that makes up about 10-15% of Xbox gamers to begin with–are going to strongly consider Xbox One X as their machine of choice.

And that’s the point.

Xbox One X was designed to be a mass market product, but only over time, only as components become cheaper and technology advances. For the first year at least, it is targeting those who want the best of the best and who actually understand what all that memory bandwidth and teraflop talk means to their gaming experience.

Sure, Microsoft could have made the box bigger and few people would fault them for it. They could’ve done away with the vapour chamber cooling tech and used a larger fan to distribute air and cool the beast that the machine is. But this is more of a premium product in every sense of the word; design to technology to engineering.

Are there shortcomings for Xbox One X? Probably, though it’s hard to tell what they are at this point. Perhaps the box is actually louder for some reason other than fans. Maybe there will be heating issues after all, especially if the box is kept in an entertainment unit and can’t get adequate passive airflow. There are still plenty of unanswered questions at this point, but the least of which should be whether or not the Xbox One X deserves its premium price.

It is, in every sense of the word, a premium product. The price simply goes along with it.