Microsoft is finally experimenting with deep discounts on Xbox One games through its digital store, with a temporary $20 price drop on Ryse: Son of Rome throughout the next week.
The sale, which brings the game's price down to $40, will begin on Tuesday, February 18, and will run until February 24. Microsoft will also slash prices on Ryse add-on content starting February 25.
On Twitter, Xbox studio head Mike Ybarra acknowledged that the discounts are in response to user feedback. "Lot of people asked for better deals on our digital marketplace, so we're testing some," Ybarra wrote.
He also made clear that Microsoft will be undercutting the used game market, saying that the temporary download price is "far better" than what you can get at GameStop and other retailers. (GameStop currently sells new copies of Ryse for $60, and used copies for $55.)
This is exactly what game publishers need to do if they want to transition away from disc-based games, and compete against the second-hand game business that they love to complain about. You can't sell a downloaded game or loan it to a friend, so there needs to be some benefit beyond just not having to insert a disc every time. Flash sales are a good way to get gamers on board with digital storefronts, as Valve has proven over the years with its popular Steam sales.
Although the Ryse sale will be Microsoft's first attempt at big discounts on Xbox One content, Sony has already been testing its own PS4 flash sales. Last month, Sony had a three-day sale on several Playstation 4 games, along with discounts on games for PS3 and PS Vita.
It'll be interesting to see what happens later this year, once both the Xbox One and PS4 have amassed a back catalog. If we start seeing $20-and-under deals on last year's games, Steam may actually have some competition from the console makers.