OPINION

Xbox Series X and the Monolith in the room

The Game Awards was on last night – I didn’t get to watch it live, but it was certainly interesting catching up this morning. Microsoft it seems, are kick-starting the slew of Next-Gen reveals we’ve got coming our way early by not only showing off the “Xbox Series X”, Microsoft’s next gen console but also a chilling and amazing trailer for the now PC and Xbox Exclusive sequel to Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. Not only that, but we got a nice re-reveal of Gears Tactics and a new trailer and release date for Ori and the Will of the Wisps.

But let’s get talk about the elephant ‘monolith’ in the room. The new console is quite the departure from traditional console designs, and this vertical, mostly featureless slab almost screams to be placed on display rather than hiding under an entertainment centre. It actual reminds me of a small form factor PC – and it is certainly packing some serious power under the hood.

Oh my.

Phil Spencer has confirmed that the Series X will sport approximately four times the CPU performance of Xbox One and twice the GPU grunt of the current console king (from a power perspective at least), the Xbox One X. What all this means is around 12 teraflops of graphical performance overall, which, as of writing, is on par with my PC, if not beyond it. Not to mention, the Series X is also sporting technology that I don’t have. Whilst I currently utilise SSDs for gaming, the Series X will also be sporting NVMe technology, apparently virtually eliminating loading times. There’s even been mention of being able to resume ‘multiple’ games from suspend, though that feels like a gimmick more than anything.

Before last night, we already knew when Microsoft were planning to release their next console for Holiday 2020, slated to go toe-to-toe with the Playstation 5, but now I feel like we know a whole lot more, and that brings me to what I feel is the final confirmation of the 2 SKU strategy that’s been rumoured.

What I thought was most interesting was the name – “Xbox Series X”. With the renewed rumours swirling of another, cheaper and less powerful next-generation platform for Xbox, codenamed “Lockhart”; the name itself lends further credence to this being true – can we expect a further reveal of the Xbox Series S to be announced later down the line? I certainly think so. Microsoft’s entire naming structure appears to bring their consoles more in line with other technology giants – forget the “Series X” moniker for the moment – the consoles new name is simply “Xbox”. The rest is just what model you choose to go for.

While the price has yet to be announced, it certainly sounds like a $499 price tag is on the cards here at a minimum – Phil Spencer has recently been quoted as saying that they “won’t be beat on power or price” and I think this 2 SKU strategy is how they’re going to achieve that. Perhaps we can expect the other ‘SKU’ to drop the next time Xbox are on stage.

If you want to know more about our thoughts on Series X and everything else, tune in to our podcast later this week.

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