Understanding the 2 console strategy when it comes to next-gen

Over the last few weeks there have been alot of posts and coverstations in the traditional games media regarding the confusion of the next generation of xbox devices. this really hit a peak early this week when IGN posted the following tweet:

Now that in itself is straightforward if you read the article and re-read the poor headline choice but in the console reaction sphere of twitter, youtube and forums there was alot of concern about confusing the laymen. So lets take a minute to explain the Xbox strategy and clear up the doubts of the main stream gaming media.

Meet the Next-Gen, same as the Current-Gen

If you have followed Microsoft for a while you know that in the Phil Spencer times of hardware Xbox has had 2 console models. The S (standard) and the X (premium)

The main difference between the S and the X is resolution. The X will output at native 4K and the S will not. This at its core is the philosophy of the Xbox hardware philosophy.

In reflection with this tweet, we can see the next-gen S model will run the current-gen S model versions of games and the next-gen X model will run the current-gen X versions.

The question you need to ask yourself from a display point of view is “Do I want native 4K?”

Features make the Next-Gen, not games

When we used to look at a next-generation experience it was usually a huge jump in what could be played compared to what the old hardware could manage. Think of 2D – 3D gaming, once we hit 3D we have seen more refinement but as each generation comes the jumps in refinement are smaller or come from areas that you can’t typically look at on a screenshot. These jumps have to be felt.

With Xbox, the next-gen experience is going to be mainly felt in gameplay and loading times. The SSD storage will be hundreds of times faster than what we have now and the CPU is fast enough to generate games at 60 frames per second, double what they were this generation. There is even room for developers to optimise for 120 frames per second so you can feel every move. The biggest thing for next-gen in graphics is ray-tracing which will make game worlds look and act more like real life.

But we must also temper our expectations with development teams and structures shaken up by COVID-19 with teams working from home. It may take longer than usual to see the full fruits of their labour.

Lets talk about specs baby.

The most common problem with this 2 console approach is that there is a conflicting way to compare the consoles. For the sake of continuity and sanity I think the best way to do this is comparing the S models and the X models. I have made some budget MS paint models below

As you can see when comparing like for like at the same launch price points we can see that next-gen is a leap for both lines of console. The confusion seems to be when media industry folks compare the Series S to the One X but when they do this they are confusing themselves and their audiences and frankly, they should be better than that.

So which one do I get?

Its quite simple really. If you want 4K or physical games then the Series X is your box, if you are happy to save some money and play in 1440p and digital through the storefront and gamepass then the Series S is the one for you.

Both consoles will use the same features, architectures and will play the same titles. The Series S is just putting out a weaker graphics signal than the Series X.

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