Welcome back to Press Start, the daily blog here on the Ode to Games website! After today's news, next-gen feels way closer and more real, as we finally got official confirmation on the price and release date for the Xbox Series X and its cousin, the Xbox Series S.
The two consoles both launch on November 10, with prices of $499 for the Series X, and $299 for the Series S. The Series S leaked earlier this week, prompting Xbox to confirm the leaks and make the prices official. I wonder how long Microsoft would have held off on announcing the price had the Series S design not leaked on social media.
The Series S has a surprising amount of power for the price tag -- on the podcast, I'd been expecting the cheaper model to come in around $349 or $399. This is a great option for gamers on a budget, but the lack of storage (only 512 GB) and a missing disc drive may make this option a lot less attractive to some, but I'm actually fine with the missing disc drive.
$499 for the Series X makes perfect sense, and I have a feeling we'll see the primary PS5 model come in around the same price. However, since the PS5 Digital Edition has the same specs as the base model, there's no way the price will come even close to the $299 price tag the Series S is advertising. I see the PS5 Digital coming in at $399 to try and close in on Microsoft's budget Xbox.
Who Is the Series S For?
The Xbox Series S has a great price, but I've been thinking a lot about who Microsoft is specifically targeting with this budget model. On the Xbox Wire, Microsoft explained how the Series S will still target the same next-gen speeds and performance as the Series X. However, it doesn't display true 4K, you can't use physical games or movies, and its storage and some other specs aren't up to speed with the Series X.
In a time before Xbox Game Pass, I think the Xbox Series S would be a tough sell to most consumers. But, at $299, with the existence of Game Pass, the Xbox Series S is a very wallet-friendly option to get drawn into the Xbox ecosystem. And isn't that the whole platform Microsoft is embracing moving forward into the next generation?
The Xbox Series S is a very wallet-friendly option to get drawn into the Xbox ecosystem.
The Series S allows customers to get in on the ground floor with a next-gen Xbox and Xbox Game Pass. Normally, I'd say the lack of a disc drive would really hurt the system, but Game Pass eliminates most of the need to play physical games on Xbox. Because of Game Pass and the lower price, I think the Series S is a great option for:
-Casual gamers looking for a cheaper upgrade to next-gen
-Consumers who don't have a 4K television
-Players who skipped the Xbox One generation and want back in
-Players who primarily play on Switch or PlayStation, but want access to Game Pass
That last one is a camp I see a lot of people falling into. I plan to get a PS5 for the exclusives, the disc drive, and some of the backwards compatibility options, but supplementing that with a Xbox Series S is a realistic option at some point this generation.
Consumer-Friendly Pricing Plans
I was also very happy with the pricing plans available to consumers through Xbox All Access. For $34.99/month for 24 months, you get an Xbox Series X and two years of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes Game Pass and Xbox Live. The same plan exists for the Series S, at $24.99/month for two years. At a time where everyone might not have a few hundred dollars to drop on a shiny new device, this is another consumer-friendly move to get new players into the Xbox ecosystem.
I think the price reveal was a big win for Microsoft. I was worried that a cheaper, all-digital next-gen Xbox wouldn't have much of a purpose, but seeing the specs and factoring Game Pass in justifies the Series S' existence. Now it's time to wait and see how Sony responds. Next-gen is finally almost here!