It’s getting close to the release of the Xbox Series X and PS5. At the end of the current console generation, many players are drawing their attention to the next step in console gaming. Gamers now face the choice of which system to support for the next generation. With both major system manufacturers releasing within days of each other, tension mounts for the indecisive among us.
One can hardly blame people for taking their time. With the uncertainty in the world today, many may be reluctant to spend $500 on a new system. Thankfully it won’t be as costly as people thought.
In a stroke of genius by the people over at Microsoft, the Xbox Series X will launch with a little brother. A digital only, cut down version of the system called the Xbox Series S. It’s small, it’s white and it looks like a speaker.
I scoffed when I first saw the system. What is the point in already offering a slim version console right out of the gate? As I educated myself on the particulars of the system I came to realise that this would be my next console. I was switching over.
Gaming is Getting Pricey
For the past seven years I have been enjoying video games on the PS4. I have enjoyed my time with the system and I expect to stick with it for a while still. However, rising costs of gaming, particularly in the UK where I live, have discouraged me from keeping up-to-date with the latest releases. At the start of the current generation in 2013 prices rose from £40 for a new release to between £50 and £55 depending on retailers (in 2013 £55 was the equivalent of around $91 USD, however the value has dropped considerably since then).
With prices set to rise again and the uncertain state of the economy in today’s market, finding cheaper options is a must. This is where the Xbox Series S first grabbed my attention. The price of this system is only £250/$300 at launch. This is a staggering price for a new system and to put things into perspective I bought a PS4 Pro a year ago at £279.99. When your new system is cheaper than your competition’s old system it’s definitely going to get noticed.
The PS5 is also offering two systems with the same idea in mind. The PS5 digital edition, however, has a price tag of over £100 more than the Xbox Series S.
Is the Series S too Good to be True?
So what is it? What’s the inevitable catch that’s going to ruin all this? Surely you don’t sell a new system £100 cheaper than the competition and get away with it. The explanation is simple.
The Xbox Series S, first and foremost, is a much weaker system. The CPU isn’t as powerful as it’s big brother. It’s graphics unit is only one third as powerful. It uses 10gb of DDR6 RAM rather than the 16gb used by the Series X. Many may find this concerning until people realise that the XSS is only designed to run at 1440p. As myself and most other gamers do not have 4k displays this compromise works in our favour. There’s no point in spending money on the more powerful system if you don’t have the display to get the benefits.
By optimising the Series S for less powerful displays, you cut out a lot of the more expensive components. It also has no disk drive. This is one reason why it is so cheap. The big price cut, however, comes from the SSD. Anyone who has tried to buy an SSD hard drive will know just how expensive they can be and how quickly the price rises as they get bigger.
The Xbox Series S only boasts a modest 512gb SSD which, in fair criticism, is tiny considering how much bigger games are now. It hasn’t been made clear as yet as to whether these can be swapped out or upgraded. Considering the priority on ease of access to the systems internals, I would think it very likely that they can be. However, this may not be as big as an issue as once thought. Xbox’s Director of Program Management Jason Ronald says game install sizes should be “approximately 30% smaller” on Series S compared to Series X, according to a recent interview he did at IGN.
Xbox Series S gets a Pass
Systems being cheap is a great bonus for people concerned about their cash flow problems. Giving consumers an alternative option could help Xbox redeem themselves from the poor decision at the start of the previous generation. But it gets even better.
For the past few years, Xbox has supported a new subscription payment model that allows players who sign up to have access to over a hundred titles. Xbox Game Pass has been marveled at by it’s users as one of the best deals in gaming. Considering the PS5 as yet has no comparable service, it gives Xbox an edge on next gen.
Players have been asking Sony to provide a similar service but it would seem they are not interested. Many players, like myself, might consider the deal on the other system too good to pass up. People who subscribe to Game Pass won’t just have access to older games, but also to upcoming first party exclusives as well.
Breaking the Mould
It has always been the case that success in competitive markets comes from innovation. The reason VHS managed to dominate home video market was because it could provide the same service as Beta Max at a more affordable price. The reason the PS2 was so successful is because it was also a DVD player which many people wanted.
The Xbox Series S is an option that can provide next gen gaming at a record low price. It’s success may well set the standard for the industry going forward. Only time will tell, but it’s certainly a competitive move.
From PS4 to Xbox Series S
I was one of many players who made a jump in 2013 from Xbox to PlayStation. The main reason was price. PS4 was a lot cheaper and it mattered. Now it seems like the cheapest option is to switch back. For those like me who can look past the lack of SSD space and not having an optical drive, the Series S is an incredibly attractive deal. Unless PS5 has a counter offer, I’m taking it. I’m unsure when exactly I will jump into next gen. It’s likely I’ll stick with the PS4 for a bit longer. I do know this, however. When I do dip my toes into the next gen ecosystem, I will be starting with an Xbox Series S.
Finding a place to pre-order an Xbox Series S might be tough. Next gen systems are selling out everywhere. Anyone looking to buy can try here. Let us know which system you’ll be buying over in the forums or on our social media!
You can find more info on the Xbox Series X, Series S and Game Pass as well as the latest on your favourite games below:
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