Xbox 720 was almost Microsoft's first profitable Xbox console

Microsoft's Gen8 Xbox One was originally pitched as the Xbox 720, a system that would have technically been the first Xbox console sold at a profit.

1 minute & 32 seconds read time

The Xbox 360's successor, dubbed the Xbox 720, was originally pitched as Microsoft's first profitable console.

Xbox 720 was almost Microsoft's first profitable Xbox console 75

Unlike competitors Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft doesn't sell video games hardware at a profit. No Xbox console from any generation has been sold at a profit. In fact, non-profitable hardware was a source of Microsoft's pre-merger pains, and a catalyst for the $68.7 billion buyout. Due to the Xbox One's high $499 MSRP, Gen8 quickly spiraled out of Microsoft's control and became costly for the company. Sony was given a tremendous head start and ran away with Gen8 as a result.

Before Microsoft made the controversial decision to price its always-online, all-in-one entertainment console at $499, the company had more level-headed plans. New leaked Microsoft slides from 2012 show an "Xbox 720" product that would retail for $299 and cost around $225 to produce. This would technically mean the Xbox 720 was the first Microsoft console sold at a profit.

The new Xbox was to also launch with a v2.0 Kinect and was set to be gross margin-positive across the entirety of its life cycle. The Xbox 720 was expected to eventually deliver over 100 million sales across a 10-year span. Microsoft had also positioned the Xbox 720 into a family structure complete with multiple different re-releases and console iterations released across the decade-long period.

While most of the Xbox 720 specs seem similar to the actual specifications of the 2013 retail Xbox One, the original plans differ in one key way: The $225 Xbox 720 would only have 4GB of RAM.

It's also worth mentioning that these plans are incredibly outdated, and are from over a decade ago. These slides are also not indicative of actual set-in-stone plans and are for discussions with leadership teams. Microsoft has since scrapped multiple of the initiatives mentioned in this document, including Kinect and its smart glasses aspirations.

Other plans, like the eventually rollout of cloud gaming, have been executed and remain one of the key mainstays of the Xbox gaming subscription model.


Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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