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My thoughts on the future of Xbox

A bright and accessible future.

Xbox has finally dropped a whole heap of information on the next generation of their platform, including the price of the Xbox Series X and S, the consoles release date, and even some extras coming to next-gen.

The stream of announcements were sparked by the reveal of a smaller, more affordable version of the new Xbox console, dubbed the Xbox Series S, which was something heavily rumoured and teased over the past few months. With the reveal also came the release date for Xbox’s next-gen consoles, which will be November 10th of this year, and also the price of both the Series S and Series X, both priced at £249.99 and £449.99 respectively.

The cost of next-gen has been one of the biggest topics of discussion among games journalists and players alike, and I think it’s safe to say that the price of the new Xbox consoles came as a surprise to a lot of people. It would’ve been smart to assume that these new consoles would be drastically more expensive than their predecessors, but if anything, they are the same price, if not cheaper. That is great, beyond great even, and for more than one reason. Xbox head, Phil Spencer, went on record a few months back saying that he wanted the new additions to the Xbox family of consoles to be affordable, and sure enough they are very affordable. True, they are still expensive pieces of hardware, but games consoles always have been, and for Microsoft to price their most powerful console yet just slightly higher than that of it’s predecessor, the Xbox One, suggests that making next-gen gaming accessible to as many people as possible is something they value highly.

The announcement of the Xbox Series S only pushes that notion further, offering players a smaller version of the Series X, for £200 cheaper. It does come with certain traits that may be drawbacks to some people, including the fact it’s is all-digital (so no disks allowed), has less storage, and doesn’t offer the exact same quality the Series X has. The fact the Series S is all-digital is no doubt a symptom of physical games sales and retailers becoming more of a dying industry, as more and more people just get their games off of digital stores, but while that may be the case there’s still a lot of people who own games on disc and even like to watch blu-rays on their console; thus the lack of a disk-tray will without a doubt be a deal breaker for some people.

With a substantially cheaper price than that of the Series X, it makes sense that the Series S also won’t have the same level of power. I’ve already discussed the lack of a disc drive in the Series S, which is already a big divider between it and the Series X, but another big difference is in storage. The Series X has about 1tb of storage, where the Series S only has 512gb, approximately half. This will mean that depending on what you play on your Xbox, you may need to be very selective with what you have installed at any one time on the Series S. For example, Call of Duty: warzone takes up roughly 100gb on current consoles, meaning on a Series S it would be taking up a fifth of your total storage. Graphically, there’s quite a bit of difference between the two consoles as well. The Series S will not be able to run 4K resolution, instead running at 1440p at 120 frames-per-second, and it has a lower processing power than that of the Series X, with only a 20-core GPU compared to the Series X’s 52-core. Jargon aside, it's evident that the Series S is not as powerful as the Series X, but it is also important to note that both still share a lot of the same parts, and that graphically they aren’t too dissimilar. Not everyone will have a 4K TV, or will even care about 4K, so already the Series S looks a lot more desirable, and beyond that, the series S offers a higher frame rate in certain instances too.

Personally, I think the Series S is a great alternative to the Series X for those who really just want to be able to play games but aren’t fussed about any of the fancy stuff. However the biggest issue it has, for me anyway, is the amount of storage it has, especially because of how much more space games are taking up on your hard drive, so if you get a Series S, at some point down the road you may need to fork out a little extra on an external hard drive.

The consoles were not the only thing Xbox announced though, with the news that you’ll be able to get the Series S or X with Microsoft’s finance option, Xbox All Access. Xbox has launched their own unique way of getting the latest Xbox into the hands of players with Xbox All Access, which operates like any other finance option, where you pay a set amount each month over a set few months, and in exchange you get a new Xbox console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. It’s a great alternative for those who won’t be able to afford to buy the console outright, and with the additional benefit of Game Pass Ultimate, it’s a pretty sweet deal, where, at the end of it, the console is all yours.

I can’t not talk about Xbox Game Pass here too, after all it is the so-called ‘best deal in gaming’, and with good reason. For roughly £10 a month you get access to over 100 games, including every first-party Xbox title (past, present, and future), as well as some of the biggest games releasing. It’s a phenomenal package that is soon to be even better with the addition of EA play, EA’s game pass equivalent that gives you access to a select few EA games along with deals, discounts and early access to other EA games. Xbox has been knocking it out of the park with Game Pass, and it seems that they are looking to make it even better as time goes on.

One thing I've noticed is what games are going to be available on next-gen Xbox consoles, and particularly how they have seemingly drawn in a lot of third-party developers. Arguably the biggest reason the PlayStation has surpassed the Xbox in popularity over the years has been their library of high-quality exclusive games, which is something Xbox really doesn’t have anymore. While we’ve been shown a few of the soon to be Xbox exclusive titles in the works, they’ve still got a while to go before they see the light of day, but there is a lot of third-party games coming out on next-gen very soon, with many launching alongside the Xbox Series X. For example, Destiny 2’s next big expansion, Beyond Light, will be launching alongside the Series X, as will the next entry I the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. Both were originally releasing either before or after the release of Series X, and now both are launching with it. This, coupled with the news that EA play is getting added to games pass, suggests that Xbox is doing a great job of drawing in third-party developers to their side of the gaming scales, which to me, seems to be a great way of solving their exclusives issue in the long term.

Based on what we've seen so far, I can’t help but commend Microsoft on their approach to next-gen, if for nothing else but the way they seem to acknowledge affordability as a top priority. Between how low the price of the Series X and S is, to giving people the option of Xbox All Access, they are providing greater opportunities for more and more people to get into gaming, as well as allowing for current players to upgrade to next-gen. Everyone should be able to play the games they love and stay connected with friends, and Microsoft continues to make that something available to everyone.

This has been my take on this weeks Xbox news, and in short, I feel it is looking really bright for Xbox in the long term. They not only seem to be taking a consumer-friendly approach, but also seem to be leveraging their position as the soon to be strongest console on the market to encourage a lot of big developers and publishers to make Xbox their system of choice. Here’s hoping they keep it up and continue to show why Xbox is the future of gaming.

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