The worst-kept secret in gaming is finally out in the open – the Xbox Series S, an all-digital alternative to Microsoft’s upcoming flagship Series X console and successor to the Xbox One, is real.
The existence of the console has long been rumoured, with glimpses of the branding appearing on packaging for accessories that will be compatible with both Series X and Series S models, and blink-and-miss-it listings being spotted on some retailers’ websites.
Microsoft has not yet revealed specifications for the Series S, although it is clear from the product imagery that the unit will not house a disc drive. The means all games will be digital only, and the console will not be able to play 4K UHD Blu-ray discs, as the Xbox One S, One X, and Series X can.
There are also issues surrounding performance. The Series S has been rumoured to offer only four teraflops of computing power (see Digital Foundry’s excellent deconstruction of what that might mean here), a third of the Series X’s confirmed 12TF. If so, there are questions to be answered on how the S can run the same games as the X – could a push towards Microsoft’s cloud gaming service be imminent, allowing off-site servers to do the grunt work of processing and rendering games, and pushing the output to a Series S console?
The trade-off of lost features and potentially lower performance though is in price and size. The Xbox Series S will retail at GBP £249.99/USD $299.99. Windows Central claims the more powerful Series X will retail at $499 USD, so that’s a considerable saving, if true. Microsoft also calls the Series S “the smallest Xbox ever”, and given the monolithic stature of the Series X, that could be a selling point for players with space constraints.
Although a release date of 10 November for both X and S consoles is rumoured, nothing has been officially confirmed yet. Further details on the console will be shared soon, Microsoft promises.