Xbox blinks first by pricing Xbox Series X ahead of Sony's PS5

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Xbox Series XImage source, Microsoft

Microsoft has revealed what its next flagship games console will cost, opting to do so before its rival Sony.

There had been much speculation about whether the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 would be first to be priced.

However, one expert said the Japanese firm would be hard pushed to do so again given its finances.

Microsoft tweeted that the new machine would cost £449 in the UK, €500 in Europe and $499 in the States.

And in a surprise move, it added that EA's Play games subscription service would be bundled with its own Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, to offer members a wider range of titles to choose from.

The announcement came the day after the US tech giant revealed that a second less powerful version of the next-generation console, called the Xbox Series S, would cost £250.

"This is aggressive pricing for the technology that's included in the Series X," Piers Harding-Rolls from Ampere Analysis told the BBC.

"And Microsoft must feel confident about the offer in deciding to go first."

He added that in theory this gave its competitor a chance to steal an advantage by again going for a lower price tag.

In 2013, Sony revealed the basic PS4 would be £80 cheaper than the equivalent Xbox One, hours after Microsoft had disclosed its launch plans, helping Sony claim to offer better value

But the analyst said it was unlikely to repeat the trick as its recent performance gave it less room to manoeuvre.

Microsoft's last full year profit was 13% higher than the previous period at $44.3bn. Its Xbox division only accounted for 9% of its sales.

By contrast, Sony's net profit contracted by 36% to $5.4bn. And it is more dependent on its PlayStation unit, which generated 24% of its sales.

The PlayStation 4 has outsold the Xbox One by a healthy margin.

But Mr Harding-Rolls suggested Microsoft had "deeper pockets" to invest this time round, and should also benefit from its Games Pass subscription including new first-party blockbuster releases. Sony's equivalent PlayStation Now is limited to older titles.

Microsoft has said that pre-orders for both its new consoles would begin on 22 September ahead of their 10 November release.

That puts pressure on Sony to reveal its own pricing and do likewise to help secure sales at a time when the coronavirus is causing uncertainty for consumers' own personal finances.