Why an Xbox Series S could be a bad idea for Microsoft

Xbox Series S concept credit: /u/jiveduder on Reddit

Earlier today, we saw the reveal of the Xbox Series X logo in a trademark filing. It certainly looks stylish, but we were also reminded about a logo with a similarly-styled “S” that trademarked a couple of years ago. This is one of many hints that an Xbox Series S is on the way, too — and in my opinion, it’d be a pretty bad idea for Microsoft to make one.

To better understand the problem of a potential Xbox Series S, we need to take a step back into Xbox history. There was only one original Xbox, but the Xbox 360 saw several different versions released, each with varying specs.

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The policy of different Xbox versions continued with the Xbox One. First, we saw Xbox One consoles with and without a Kinect motion sensor peripheral. Then, the Xbox One X was launched, splitting the line-up even further. Finally, Microsoft launched the Xbox One S and the Xbox One S All-Digital.

If you ignore the various packaged bundles, we had an Xbox One, Xbox One X, Xbox One S, and Xbox One S All-Digital in the current generation, each with their own specs and capabilities. This can make buying a console a pain for the casual consumer, and it’s definitely a problem that Microsoft can and should avoid in the next generation.

Xbox Series X will probably be cheaper

Xbox Series S X glow

One major argument for an Xbox Series S is that it will simply be cheaper than the Xbox Series X. That may not be that big of a problem with this next generation.

Right now, the odds are looking good that the PS5 could be priced as low as $399. A $499 price point is still very possible, of course — but if Sony hits that lower $399 price point, Microsoft would be nuts to not match it lest it repeats the mistake that the PlayStation 3 made.

The Xbox One and Xbox One X both launched at $499. Either way, we’re looking at a probably $399–$499 price range for a console that’s far more powerful than its predecessors. It’s a lot of money, but it’s certainly not the $599 you would have paid for a PS3 back in the day.

Xbox All Access can provide an affordable option

Xbox Series S All Access

Whether the Xbox Series X costs $399 or $499, Microsoft already has an option for those of you who don’t have a few hundred bucks to spare right away: Xbox All Access.

If you’re unfamiliar with Xbox All Access, it’s a pretty neat idea. You have to pay $24.99 a month for 24 months. In exchange, you get the following:

  • An Xbox One X console bundle
  • 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
  • An 18-month console upgrade option
  • Xbox All Access

You can get an Xbox One S All Digital for just $19.99 a month, but why not drop the extra five bucks and get the best console possible? It’s a tantalizing option for the gamer on a budget.

The sensible thing to do here is to extend Xbox All Access to the Xbox Series X on day one. Even if it were as high as $29.99 a month, it’s a way more reasonable price than paying $399–$499 in one go and you get a lot of benefits. Such a program also renders an Xbox Series S entirely obsolete.

Manufacturing the Xbox Series S is a waste

Xbox Series S X conveyor

Another issue with multiple console versions is manufacturing. The Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X might share a lot of parts, but there would still be differences between the two. It’s evidently true that manufacturing two products takes more work than manufacturing one product.

The advantage of focusing on a single console for the next generation means there are fewer manufacturing complications overall. As a bonus, Microsoft could focus its resources on buying more parts in bulk; the money that would be spent on Xbox Series S parts could instead be used to buy parts for the Xbox Series X, lowering Microsoft’s overall costs.

Developers can focus on one architecture

Xbox Series S Halo Infinite

Microsoft’s ex-CEO Steve Ballmer said it best: developers, developers, developers. A console ain’t worth squat without the games to play on it, and hundreds of game devs around the world are going to be making games for the next generation. Why make things harder for them?

When you have an Xbox Series S and an Xbox Series X, developers will have to make games for two different architectures. Graphics for the S will have to be lowered to maintain good frame rates and acceptable gameplay.

If the only next-gen Microsoft console is the Xbox Series X, it makes things much, much easier for game devs. They can focus on making the best game possible on one architecture and they won’t have to concern themselves with juggling two different builds in the same ecosystem.

An Xbox Series S might sound like a good idea at first glance, but there’s just no need for a cheaper version of a next-gen console, especially with the (likely) lower launch price and the probable availability of affordable payment plans.

[Xbox Series S concept credit: /u/jiveduder on Reddit]