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As the Euro Recovers, Gamers Lose on High Xbox One and PlayStation 4 Prices

Sony Outmaneuvers Microsoft in First Skirmish of PS4-Xbox One
Attendees look at the Microsoft Corp. Xbox One video game console during the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles on June 11, 2013. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Gamers experienced a nasty case of sticker shock this week when Microsoft announced the $500 price for the Xbox One. For Europeans, it was even worse.

The euro has appreciated against the dollar over the last several months as the region's economy shows signs of stabilizing. So the 499 euro price for the Xbox One translates to more than $660 at the current exchange rates.

It's something of a tradition in the video-game industry for consoles to carry the same price tag in U.S. dollars and euros. European gamers fared better when the Xbox 360 first went on sale on Dec. 2, 2005. The Xbox 360's entry-level model cost $300 in the U.S. The price overseas was 300 euros, which netted out to about $352 at the $1.17 per euro exchange rate on launch day.

"There are many factors that influence the final price of consumer electronics devices in different markets," Microsoft said in an e-mailed statement. "That includes, but is not limited to tax, tariff and exchange rates."

If you're mulling a career in Xbox One arbitrage, you may want to reconsider. Sure, you could buy the devices in the U.S., sell them in Europe and then convert your profits back into dollars. But the Xbox One is region locked, which means only local games can play on the machine. And don't forget about shipping and import taxes.

Sony is pricing its PlayStation 4 similarly -- $399 and 399 euros (about $533). But the PlayStation 4's lower price compared to the Xbox One may make the premium a bit easier to swallow for European gamers on a budget.

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