Microsoft has 'no plans' to revisit Xbox One's $499 price

Even as the company backtracks on its unpopular game-sharing policy, a company executive tells CNET that it won't budge on the price for the console, some $100 more than the rival PlayStation 4.

Jay Greene Former Staff Writer
Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).
Jay Greene
2 min read
Microsoft's Marc Whitten at the Xbox One reveal event in Redmond, Wash., last month. James Martin/CNET

Microsoft may have just backtracked on its derided policy that had restricted game sharing in its Xbox One console that goes on sale later this year -- but don't count on the company to revisit other unpopular features of the upcoming console.

In an interview with CNET, Marc Whitten, the chief product officer for Xbox, said the company has "no plans" to lower the $499 price tag for the console, even though Sony's rival PlayStation 4 will debut at $399. He echoed previous statements from the company that the Xbox One will offer features not found elsewhere, such as its Kinect motion-sensing, voice-detecting controller.

"We are really, really excited about the value we're going to deliver on day one," Whitten said.

What's more, Microsoft has no plans to change its decision for the Kinect to be on by default, something some users worry might be creepy. Microsoft tried to diffuse some of those privacy concerns earlier this month, telling gamers that the system is "only listening for the single voice command -- 'Xbox On.'" But gamers can turn that feature off if they choose.

Microsoft says it thinks the Kinect is too central to the Xbox One experience, and the way that developers are creating games, to change the way it works.

"It's part of the Xbox One architecture," Whitten said.

The new policy announced earlier today does away with the much-loathed plans that would have required Xbox One gamers to connect their consoles to the Internet once a day to prevent game piracy. Gamers no longer will be required to do so.

But that policy also means gamers who purchase physical discs won't get some of the benefits of that Web strategy. Gamers were going to be able to access games from any console once they loaded the disc onto their Xbox One.

"You won't see that content now," Whitten said, though gamers will be able to see all the content they purchase digitally.

What's more, Microsoft is doing away with the policy of allowing up to 10 family members to share disc-based games even if they didn't have the disc in their console.

"We won't be delivering that," Whitten said.

Microsoft decided to alter the policy after the company recognized that it would be a "blocker" for some customers to buy the console, Whitten said. Gamers had voiced antipathy toward the idea of requiring a Web connection when rumors flew earlier this year, even before Microsoft announced the plan. But Whitten said the rancor didn't become clear to the company until after it discussed the policy at the E3 video game conference earlier this month.

"E3 was the first time our complete program was out there to get complete feedback," Whitten said. "We heard that people valued the flexibility of physical discs."