Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox will come in two flavours, the company confirmed today, with the stripped-back Xbox Series S joining the previously announced Xbox Series X this November.
Unexpectedly revealed due to a series of leaks, which have given the launch date for both machines as 10 November, the Xbox Series S will be priced at just GBP249 ($299), compared to the Series X which is expected to come in around GBP399. It will also be the company’s “smallest Xbox ever”, Microsoft said, well under half the size of the larger Series X.
The low price and slim profile come with trade-offs, of course. According to the same flurry of leaks that forced Microsoft to prematurely confirm the existence of the console, the Series S has significantly less powerful internals, which are likely to render it incapable of playing games at (native) 4K resolution. It will also lack a disc drive altogether, forcing users to rely on downloaded or streamed games and movies, and dispense with their physical media collections.
That restriction could sting less for users given a second push revealed by the recent leaks: a subscription model for the consoles that provides fixed-cost access to the machines themselves, as well as Microsoft’s all-access Game Pass, marketed as a sort of Netflix for video games, which provides free access to every first-party game developed by the company, as well as an increasing number of licensed third party titles.
The Series S will reportedly cost $25 a month in the US under the Xbox All Access scheme, with the Series X costing $35; international pricing has not yet been revealed, but is likely to start at GBP21.99 for the Series S. The current generation of consoles, which can also be bought under the scheme, cost from $19.99 to $24.99 a month, with the console fully paid off after two years.
Both consoles will launch to a crowded market. Sony’s PlayStation 5 is also arriving in two versions this Christmas, one with a disc drive and one without. Both editions will be otherwise identical, however, leaving the low-end of the market free for Microsoft to pitch for, and Sony is reportedly targeting a higher price for the console than even the Series X.
Nintendo is also rumoured to be working on a successor to its phenomenally successful Switch console, featuring more powerful internal hardware that can output 4K video to a supported TV.