If you are on the fence about whether to sign up for Microsoft's new gaming service, the tech giant may have found something to sweeten the deal for you.
According to a report from Deadline, the new service (dubbed Xbox All Access) could launch this month, and it would have two levels of pricing. For $22 a month, subscribers would receive an Xbox One S console, as well as access to the Xbox multiplayer gaming service and the Xbox Game Pass. If people are willing to pay $35 a month, subscribers would receive the more powerful Xbox One X. The difference between the S and an X lies within the soul of the gamer.
The report features analyst Michael Pachter noting that this would be a smart move for Microsoft, and somewhat akin to what wireless carriers do with phones, as in "sign up for this monthly installment payment plan and you get an iPhone" and so forth. Deals like this are attractive at first, but the hardware keeps customers from breaking with the service. A free Xbox could have the same effect on gamers.
Microsoft needs all the help it can get right now — the same report notes that in the console market it has fallen behind Sony (maker of the PlayStation) and that it's also facing trouble on the other side from Nintendo, a company that has seen a huge resurgence thanks to the popularity of its new console the Switch. Researchers are predicting Nintendo will bypass Microsoft for the No. 2 position this year, and it isn't resorting to chaining people to free Switch consoles to do it. It may entice old customers back by letting them throw their outdated Wii U consoles into trash fires, however.
If the report is true and this comes to pass, it would be a landmark moment in the console wars, as well as the world of gaming in general. There are benefits on both sides — one one hand, you get an Xbox. On the other hand, to keep that Xbox, you have to pay monthly fees. What will happen if you don't pay up, or if you decide to cancel? Will this become a "returning your cable box to the Time Warner store" scenario? Will discarded Xboxes line the streets, or will the Xbox console become the new king of town, and set a new trend?
One final question in regard to all of this — when the next level of consoles finally comes out, how will that be addressed? Will people be able to upgrade their shiny Xbox millstones for a brand-new system, or will they have to shell out some cheddar like the non-subscribers? We hope that more will soon be revealed.