The next generation price war has officially kicked off, and it’s pretty safe to say that Microsoft has come out swinging, and also opening themselves up to so many jokes, in revealing the slimmed-down “lite” version of the next gen console the Xbox Series S after details leaked this past weekend.
First up, the little brother console, the Xbox Series S, is a disc-less version of the big machine that looks fairly underpowered compared to the Series X (but still faster than anything current generation). The biggest news is that it’s coming in at a relatively cheap price of $299, supports Series X titles, but likely not other features like ray tracing and 4K / 8K gaming. Given that those are still niche features in the grand scheme of things and next gen titles that take advantage of those features are still probably years away, the entry level console will probably be enough for a lot of consumers.
Given that Microsoft is going hard into Game Pass, something that is an amazing value for the money, this might be a great little system for those who want it. In a kind of worrying sign of things to come… Microsoft has also laid out a financing plan for the new consoles with their Xbox All Access plan. It starts at $25/month for 24 months and includes Xbox Game Pass as part of the bundle. That’s roughly the cost of the console and bundle together… game pass runs $10/month on its own. That’s a lot of gaming for a pretty approachable price.
Following up on that news, the pricing of the more powerful Xbox Series X, and a renewal of trash can jokes related to it, came out today (Wednesday, Sept 9th). The bigger brother is going to come in at $499, which is lower than the $599 a lot of people were guessing. Both consoles will be available for preorder on September 22nd, and are coming out on November 10th. It also includes a financing option that starts at $35/month… which, again, basically amounts to the price of the console along with the included game pass subscription.
To… sweeten, I guess… the pot, Microsoft also announced that EA’s laughably bad EA Play was now included in Game Pass at no additional cost. The value of that pass for money is terrible, since it only offers extended trials of new games, but it does open up their back catalog to some fantastic stuff like Titanfall 2, the Mass Effect games, The Sims, and Battlefield. Free is free, I guess… at least that’s what got me to sign up for the Epic Game Store, and I’ve bought one whole game on there since I installed it (Borderlands 3, which I regret… it just wasn’t that fun).
Microsoft is clearly trying to take a different path in this generation, and they’re not trying to outdo Sony on exclusives… it’s a battle they know they’d lose. Instead, what Microsoft seems to be fighting a war of accessibility and access, putting their console into as many homes as possible and give everyone access to gaming. Given their focus on Game Pass, cross-gen, and backwards compatibility… it’s a move that makes total sense.
Obviously, I’m still kind of down on the whole next generation thing in general, but Microsoft has come out swinging, beat the doom and gloom price point, and want to support the current and next generation together. No, they don’t have all the great IPs that Sony has, and Sony will come in with their pricing later this week or next week… but it’s hard to not give Microsoft their due for drawing battle lines in ways that seems pretty positive for gamers.