Xbox Prices May Rise After the Holidays

Microsoft says economic pressures are very real, but that it wants to keep the cost to customers the same this holiday shopping season.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read
A wired controller for Xbox Series X and S

The unstable economy is leading to price increases everywhere.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Microsoft may raise the price of its Xbox video game console and games sometime after the holiday shopping season, the company said on Wednesday. That would make it the latest in a series of consumer goods makers and service operators that have already hiked, or are planning to hike, costs to customers for their products.

Phil Spencer, Microsoft's head of gaming and Xbox, said the increased sticker prices across the video game industry over the past couple years have reflected the increased costs of making games, as well as manufacturing costs for video game consoles themselves. 

On Wednesday, at The Wall Street Journal's WSJ Tech Live Conference in Laguna Beach, California, Spencer noted that his company's Xbox Series S will continue to cost $300 through the holiday shopping season, and its Xbox Series X will remain at $500. The company's games made in-house will also continue to cost as much as $60, rather than $70 other game makers have begun charging. And its Xbox Game Pass subscription service still costs up to $15 a month.

"Going into this holiday, we thought it was really important that we maintain the prices that we have," Spencer said. "Consumers right now are more uncertain than they have been in a long time, and I want our medium of video games to be something that they find attractive."

But, he said, prices will likely change "at some point" on "certain things." He didn't offer other details, nor did an Xbox spokesman respond to a request for further comment.

"We have to look at the return on our business the cost of the business," Spencer said. "We've held price on our console, we've held price on games for us and our subscription. I don't think we'll be able to do that forever."

If Microsoft does indeed raise prices, it'll be the latest in a series of companies to do so. Over the past couple years, streaming service providers Apple, Netflix, Spotify, Disney and Google-owned YouTube have raised at least some of their subscription rates for their respective music and video streaming apps. And just this past summer, Sony also raised the sticker price for its PlayStation 5 video game console in some countries, saying it was necessary "given the current global economic environment."

Spencer noted that the Xbox isn't expected to run a profit on its hardware sales, and instead relies on licensing and other fees connected to game sales to make up the difference. He also said that although his company's Game Pass service makes up about 15% of Xbox sales, it is profitable and he doesn't expect it to increase dramatically.