On Monday night, a floodgate opened up about the launch plans for Microsoft’s next-generation consoles. Multiple reports, along with a telling video clip, placed an exclamation point at the company’s leaked ambitions to launch the “Xbox Series X” console (announced in late 2019) alongside a cheaper, smaller “Xbox Series S” model toward the end. of the year.
Hours after the reports went live, Microsoft confirmed that: Xbox Series S does indeed exist† Described by Microsoft as “the smallest Xbox ever”, this new console will launch on November 10 at a price of $299.
Brad Sams, a longtime Microsoft follower, kicked off Monday’s news with a screenshot showing an apparent Xbox Series S design, colored white and about half the size of an Xbox Series X, in addition to a price tag: $299. At the time, Sams gave no explanation for where he got his image from, but he has repeatedly reported on the existence of the Series S while it was in development under the codename Lockhart, alongside the Series X (codename Scarlett).
S marks the spot
If previous reports come out, Series S will debut with many of the same technical leaps as in Series X – and these could include features like “Velocity Architecture” for faster game loading or nice graphical effects like ray tracing. But Series S would deliver those “next-gen” benefits at a lower maximum power, intended for lower pixel resolutions (such as 1080p) or lower frame rates, to lower the console’s price. Sams and other reporters have estimated a peak rendering level of about 4 teraflops for Series S, compared to Series X’s 12 TF power and 4K resolution ambitions. Microsoft hasn’t given any details on Xbox Series S capabilities yet, other than a vague description of ” next-generation performance.”
In August, Ars Technica was able to confirm the name of the cheaper console, thanks to sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans and an early launch of the controller (whose “compatibility list” stated “Xbox Series X/S”).
Shortly after Sams’ report went live, Windows Central reported the same price for the Series S, along with a claim that Xbox Series X will launch for $499. WC’s report, citing “sources,” claimed both consoles will launch on November 10. be launched, but the report did not clarify which regions that launch will encompass. (Microsoft had previously confirmed a November console launch for Series X.)
Series S images in Monday’s reports were followed by: a leaked snippet of the Series S reveal video, as shared by Twitter user “_h0x0d_This four second video features a slick animation of both new consoles placed side by side, followed by the Series S sliding into a transparent version of the Series X chassis to emphasize the size comparison. At that point, a narrator describes “how small it is.” [Update, 12:30 p.m. ET: Microsoft has officially released an Xbox Series S trailer, embedded below.]
What the narrator doesn’t say in that short clip is that the Series S seems to be missing a disk drive on the front or on the other visible sides. Whether a disk drive exists on other sides remains unclear even after Microsoft’s Series S confirmation, but that would be a huge design departure for Xbox, which for years has placed disk drive slots on the same side as the console’s power buttons. Therefore, it seems likely that the disc drive will be skipped as a way to bring the price down to $299, and focus on digital download subscription packages, such as Xbox Game Pass.
Instead, the video shows a top set of holes resembling the polka dot pattern on the edges of Xbox One X, along with a dotted, all-black circular panel on one of the sides — probably intended to allow for more ventilation. Aside from the large circular vent, the console’s design similarity to Xbox One X isn’t exactly surprising given that Microsoft removed all Xbox One X consoles earlier this year — leading us to suspect Xbox Series S might take its place. in the Xbox hierarchy.
Windows Central’s report suggests that Series S will launch with a $25/month “Xbox All Access” financing option, while Series X will be available for $35/month. Exact terms of such a contract, and whether it may include extras such as Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass, have not yet been confirmed.
At the time of writing, Microsoft has not yet responded to Windows Central’s report on a $499 price for the Xbox Series X. The Twitter post from early Tuesday closed with the promise that more information would be forthcoming: “I’m looking looking forward to sharing more! Coming soon. Promise.”
This article has been updated since its original publication. It now includes Microsoft’s acknowledgment of Xbox Series S in a Twitter post and the console’s November 10 launch date.
View image by h0x0d