In an announcement that’s been compared to the introduction of Lionel Messi in the dying minutes of a cup final, Microsoft has revealed that all Xbox One pre-orders will ship with a copy of FIFA 14 in Europe. It’s a game changer for some, as it effectively reduces the price of the next generation console in a region where not owning EA Sports’ soccer simulation is considered more abnormal than eating your Nando's chicken without additional Piri-Piri sauce. But is it something that Sony needs to respond to, or can it ignore the last-minute incentive for the time being?
Microsoft is attempting to add value to its box, and that’s a smart move – but Sony shouldn't be concerned
It’s perhaps worth stressing that the short-term sweetener doesn’t actually make the Xbox One cheaper than the PS4. Assuming that FIFA 14 retails for around £39.99 in the UK, you’ll be able to pick up a copy of the game alongside the Japanese giant’s impending machine for less than £400, while Microsoft’s console still costs £429.99. However, the latter does come with the all-important Kinect sensor, which adds significant value to the package – assuming that you actually want the camera, of course.
The fact that it’s limited to pre-orders means that this doesn’t change a whole lot, though – especially when earlier reports had indicated that this may be a long-term move. It’s certainly a nice incentive for early adopters – and it may sway some fence sitters – but it doesn’t eschew the larger pricing issue attached to the Redmond-based manufacturer’s console. Unless it can somehow shed the expensive Kinect camera, it’s always going to be more costly than its competitor.
And for that reason, Sony doesn’t really need to act. Microsoft is attempting to add value to its already premium priced box, and that’s a smart move – but it’s not one that the Japanese giant should be overly concerned about. With the PlayStation maker already ceasing launch day pre-orders across Europe, there’s very little incentive for the firm to offer something similar for its format.
Furthermore, this perhaps gives us an indication of just how dire the Xbox One’s pre-orders are looking in Europe. Speculation suggests that Sony’s system is outselling its counterpart by 4:1 on the continent, and while those numbers remain entirely unconfirmed, a last-minute move like this suggests that Microsoft is at least attempting to improve its outlook across the important territory.
If Sony feels it needs to add value, it could always promote its free copy of DriveClub
It will certainly make the split more favourable, but we doubt it’ll have any meaningful impact on the PS4 across the region. The only potential long-term damage is that the Xbox maker is working hard to associate the massively popular FIFA series with its brand, where it has always traditionally been marketed as a PlayStation game. That perception’s not going to change overnight, but it’s certainly something for the firm to keep its eyes on.
Regardless, we doubt that the top brass at Sony – presumably rehearsing for its own GamesCom press conference as we type – will be too nervous over today’s announcement from Microsoft. If the manufacturer feels that it needs to add value to its box, it could always promote the free copy of DriveClub – which will be available alongside PlayStation Plus subscriptions – more heavily, or even partner with retailers to create unofficial FIFA bundles. It’s a smart move by the Redmond-based firm, but it’s unlikely to conjure up a stoppage time winner.
Do you think that Sony needs to respond to Microsoft’s announcement and bundle a free game with PS4 pre-orders? Has this added incentive prompted you to reconsider which system you want to own? Let us know in the comments section below.
Should Sony bundle a free game with PS4 pre-orders? (28 votes)
Yes, it will give the console the upper-hand again
It's not necessary, but I’ll take a free game
No, the company should stick to its original plan
Please login to vote in this poll.