It may have cost $ 7.5 billion to make me realize that, but Microsoft’s Xbox Series S suddenly makes sense. Almost to the point where I would consider it a real threat to Sony’s PS5.
The Xbox Series S was designed to be a reasonable entry point into the Xbox ecosystem and next-generation gaming – and while some may argue that a standard 1080p resolution in most titles does not qualify as a true generational leap – it’s hard to deny that Microsoft’s all-white Xbox has not reached its high goal.
The Xbox Series S can run graphically intensive lighting and reflection technology known as beam tracking; it can deliver games at 1
Resolution beckons and counts aside, so the Xbox Series S is truly a great suggestion for those who want a next-generation console that does not break the bank, as long as you are prepared to accept some of the warnings.
Flying under the radar
But despite the Xbox Series S appeal, I do not think it has resonated as well with consumers as it could have. After all, if you’re a fan of Xbox games or are already subscribing to the Xbox Game Pass, would not you just choose the Xbox Series X for the best experience? It was definitely part of my thought process before Microsoft’s next generation consoles were released, although I love the almost impossible little form factor of the Xbox Series S.
You could also argue that the Xbox Series S is not doing enough to turn PlayStation hardware fans onto the green side. The price difference between Sony’s PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S is not significant enough to justify the choice of Microsoft’s machine over the PS5 Digital Edition, which is actually a PS5 without a disk drive. Why would you pay $ 299 / £ 249 / AU $ 549 for the Xbox Series S, when for over $ 100 more you can buy a PS5 Digital Edition?
The rise of the Xbox Game Pass
However, if there is one investment Microsoft has absolutely nailed in recent years, it is the Xbox Game Pass. I do not need to write more superlatives about what many people rightly call “the best deal in gaming”, and it still often feels too good to be true and somehow continues to get better.
The Xbox Series S should always be bent by the Xbox Game Pass, then. And I’m sure that having access to every title from Xbox Game Studios on day one, like Halo Infinite, will have influenced quite a few people to buy Microsoft’s cheaper Xbox just based on that fact alone.
But the Xbox Series S watershed moment came when Bethesda games were added to Microsoft’s service as part of the company’s acquisition of Bethesda’s parent company, ZeniMax Media.
This was also not a small selection, with a staggering 20 titles, some of which are already running better than ever before thanks to FPS Boost, a new Xbox Series X and S feature that can sometimes quadruple the frame of older titles.
It’s also a tempting promise that future Bethesda titles like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 will hit the air on Day One, just like Microsoft’s first – party production.
The value within
Whether you are a fan of exclusives or not, there is no doubt that they are still the best way to sell consoles and entice players to change their fidelity to a piece of plastic. And with Bethesda games now available on Xbox and PC, PlayStation owners will suddenly have to contend with the possibility of games and series that they might have been happy to no longer have available. And that in itself is a far greater move than Microsoft releasing a new Forza Motorsport or Gears game.
Now, I’m not saying that people will start shopping in their PS5 consoles galore, but what the Xbox Series S could become is the perfect companion console to Sony’s machine. As in all Xbox 360 and PS3 households you often find a Wii, the Xbox Series S has the potential to reach an audience that simply would not pay $ 499 / £ 449 / AU $ 749 for a box that does practically the same thing as the PS5 they already own.
I’ve seen a number of people pick up an Xbox Series S to perform their “Bethesda box”, which is proof of how beloved series like Fallout, Skyrim, Doom, Wolfenstein and The Evil Within are. And when they also know that they’ll get all of Microsoft’s first-party output, major third-party games like Outriders and more as part of the subscription, it’s hardly surprising that the Xbox Series S has entered the equation.
The console is suddenly not just a cheap entry point into the next-generation and Xbox ecosystem: it’s an avenue for PlayStation (and potentially Nintendo Switch) fans to ensure they can still play Bethesda’s upcoming games without making another significant investment. As a result, they will also be exposed to countless Xbox games that they may have ignored, and the incredible value proposition that is the Xbox Game Pass.
That should worry Sony – not because they’re likely to lose sales of a PS5, but because the prospect of paying $ 70 / £ 70 for a game compared to $ 10 / £ 8 a month is hard to justify. It will also attract more people to the already 18 million Xbox Game Pass subscribers that Microsoft is so keen to build as opposed to changing Xbox Series X consoles.
Maybe this was Microsoft’s plan all along?