Microsoft’s Big gaming week showed an amazing customer-friendly approach to next-gen gaming. Now if only it worked in Zim
Your move, Sony.
This past week has been a crazy one for Microsoft, with reviews for it’s Surface Duo Foldable phone out (which we’ll come back to soon) and of the unveiling of the cheaper, all digital US $300 Xbox Series S as well as the price of the Xbox Series X, $500. It’s a week of big gaming focused moves from the company that essentially have kicked off the last leg of the upcoming console war, and to be honest, it makes Microsoft and Xbox the (seemingly) more attractive option if you want to buy a new game console.
So about that Xbox Series S. Well it’s likely what you think it is, a less powerful Xbox Series X without a disc drive, clearly aimed to be the one that sells numbers while the Series X remains the big powerhouse console meant to scare the PS5 in terms of power and high-end performance. The Series S however, is not exactly a downgrade either, in fact it’s most significant subtraction from what the Series X offers is a slightly less powerful GPU, it still however offers the same CPU (which is faster than the PS5s), Same velocity architecture for much faster game loads , up to 120 FPS gameplay and 4K upscaling which will make the games look pretty much just as good as the Series X to most people’s eyes. Simply put, it’s the console most people will want, offering 90% of what the $500 Series X will for $200 less, and if the PS5 will(likely) cost more than the Series X, it means you’ll have a console that’s comparably as powerful as all the others for up to less than half the price. And honestly, it’s near impossible to argue with that. The only grime we have is the digital only approach, which we’ll get to below. But otherwise it’s near impossible to fault this machine.
It’s about more than just the consoles however.
Microsoft’s biggest play here however is still not either of these consoles. Not alone anyway. It’s the combined Xbox Ecosystem, ranging from the current Xbox One consoles, to the Series X and S, to gamepass, their subscription service that gives over 100 free games per month and covers their XCloud game streaming service in their premium tier subscription. Add in that you can use your current Xbox One long term payment plan to upgrade to the Series X, and you realize Microsoft has officially created an ironclad ecosystem that’s amazing for gamers, and lucrative for all their gaming businesses. So, where’s the issue? Well, this is all amazing if of course, you’re in the US ,Europe Asia, and some other developed markets. Because pretty much none of this is available to us right now. Could it be in future? Maybe, but Microsoft hasn’t exactly been doing great at expanding the Xbox brand beyond its core markets. It’s partially why you probably like and know PlayStation well but Microsoft’s gaming offerings aren’t native to you. It’s unfortunate too, because with a few modifications, this approach could work in developing nations like ours too, as Xbox isn’t a console anymore, but a family of gaming devices and services, and even here you could choose the approach that best suits you. Another shame is again that lack of a disc drive in the Series S, an issue we already had with the Xbox One digital edition. With game downloads clocking in at close to 100GB or more now for upcoming next gen games, it’s going to be impossible for most Zimbabweans to use this version of the console.
Regardless, one thing is for sure, Microsoft is essentially changing the game (pun intended) on how this industry works, and it will be interesting seeing how Sony reacts to the pricing, approach and competitiveness of their rival. Time to see this fight begin.