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Microsoft (MSFT) Eyes Bigger Share as Console Wars Heat Up

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Microsoft Corporation (MSFT - Free Report) is looking to grab a bigger share of the lucrative video games consoles’ market after launch of the highly awaited next-generation Xbox consoles earlier this month.

The competition has heated up in the video games consoles space after the launch of next-generation hardware from Sony Corporation and Microsoft in close succession.

Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox are dominant names in the console space along with Nintendo’s (NTDOY - Free Report) Switch.

 

However, Sony’s PlayStation outsold Xbox consoles if lifetime sales of last-generation consoles are considered. Total lifetime sales, through October 2020, for PlayStation 4  were 113.8 million units compared with 48.5 million units of Xbox One, per VGChartz data.

To attract more takers for its consoles, Microsoft has been improving on its strategy to fortify competitive position against Sony and Nintendo.

Xbox Series X was launched globally on Nov 10 at a price of $499, whereas Xbox Series S was launched the same day at a relatively cheaper price of $299. The global launch is expected to give Microsoft an advantage over Sony’s PlayStation 5, which had a phased release.

PlayStation 5 hit the retail shelves on Nov 12 in the United States, and Mexico and was available in Europe and the U.K. on Nov 19.

Game Pass Ultimate at the Forefront

Microsoft has been working on its Xbox All Access program to bring more gamers under its fold. Under Xbox All Access payment system, gamers will get access to latest Xbox Series X console along with a 24-month subscription of Game Pass Ultimate for $34.99 per month for 24 months. All Access Plan is priced at $24.99 per month for two years for Xbox Series S and 24-month subscription of Game Pass Ultimate. Gamers are not required to pay any upfront amount under these All Access Plans.

The company is adding more perks and services to its Game Pass Ultimate to ensnare a larger share of the console market this time around. The company’s Game Pass Ultimate subscription service launched in 2019 has been a massive success with more than 15 million users across 41 countries.

The subscription service for a $14.99 fee enables gamers to access 100 titles including Minecraft Dungeons, Sims 4, Destiny 2: Beyond Light and Gears 5. Moreover, the company has clubbed Electronic Arts’ EA Play with Game Pass Ultimate, thereby giving gamers access to 60 of EA’s popular titles like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Need for Speed Heat, and FIFA 20.

The acquisition of Bethesda Softworks has led to addition of Doom Eternal to Game Pass Roster. Also, with Game Pass Ultimate, subscribers can enjoy all the benefits associated with Xbox Live Gold — the company’s online multiplayer service that individually costs $9.99 per month.

Also, the company offers various perks along with Game Pass Ultimate like a one-month free subscription to Disney+ with no restricted access to content including new season of “The Mandalorian.”

The rapid proliferation of cloud gaming has prompted Microsoft to integrate its xCloud gaming service with Game Pass Ultimate. The integration will facilitate players to play games (selected titles numbering 100) via cloud on any Android mobile device. The convenience of playing anytime on any device is bound to attract more takers for this service.

For a lowly fee, the Game Pass Ultimate service offers gamers value for their money. With an affordable monthly subscription and attractive game titles to play, Game Pass Ultimate is likely to boost more takers for Xbox Series X.

Microsoft is also offering up to a 40% discount of purchase of three month of Game pass Ultimate Subscription as part of its Black Friday deals.

Hardware Comparison

In terms of hardware, Xbox Series X is powered by Advanced Micro Devices’ 8 core Zen 2 architecture CPU whereas PlayStation 5 is also powered by 8-core Zen 2 CPU from AMD. In terms of graphics, Xbox Series X has an RDNA 2-class GPU, which boasts 12 teraflops of processing power. On the other hand, PlayStation 5 has RDNA 2-class GPU with 10.3 teraflops of processing power.

Microsoft teamed up with Apple (AAPL - Free Report) to provide gamers controllers for Xbox Series X compatible with iPhone and iPad. Apple made this announcement in a support note. However, Apple has not commented on whether it’s working on controllers for PlayStation 5 in that support note.

To Conclude

Buoyed by the buzz surrounding its latest consoles (Xbox Series X and Series S), management forecasted gaming revenues to be up in the high 20% range year over year for the second quarter of fiscal 2021.

It remains to be seen whether Microsoft’s efforts at boosting sales of Xbox Series X yield desired results over the long term. Per Statista report, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are forecast to sell 50 million and 30 million units, respectively, by 2023.

At present, Microsoft carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 (Strong Buy) Rank stocks here.

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