Microsoft surprised everyone last week when Xbox head Phil Spencer took the stage at The Game Awards 2019 to reveal its next-generation Xbox Series X console. The unexpected announcement, which is seen as Microsoft’s PR masterstroke, generated headlines instantly. The reveal of the Xbox Series X was met with cheers and applause. But when the company showed the design of the console, memes about the unconventional design started flooding Twitter.
Though Microsoft has been talking a lot about the Xbox Series X in the past six months, there are still many details we are unaware of. That includes price, games lineup and the company’s strategy about Microsoft plans to take on Sony’s PlayStation 5 that’s also hitting retail shelves in the fall of 2020.
Here are five questions we want to ask Microsoft about the Xbox Series X:
How much will the Xbox Series X cost?
Microsoft didn’t tell us anything about the price of the Xbox Series X. There have been rumours that Microsoft would make the Xbox Series X available at $500, but it appears to be just an unconfirmed retail price.
Microsoft can’t afford to mess up the launch of the Xbox Series X. The company lost the last console generation to Sony, because the Xbox One debuted at $499 (including Kinect) whereas the PS4 was priced at $399. Given the high price of the bill of materials and the increased labour cost of manufacturing consoles, the Xbox Series X could cost $500, at the very least. The Xbox One X cost $499 at the time of launch.
But a lot also depends on the price of the PlayStation 5. We don’t think Sony would be able to make the PS5 available at $399 but if it will, Microsoft could come under pressure for a second time.
What are the launch games lineup?
Microsoft needs a ton of exclusive games to sell the Xbox Series X. The Redmond giant can’t afford to launch a pricey console without enough first-party titles. One of the reasons the last generation Xbox One failed was because it lacked big-ticket first-party exclusive titles, and that cemented the PS4’s dominance in the console market.
So far, the only high-profile game that has been confirmed for the Xbox Series X is Halo: Infinite. It’s a strong indication that Microsoft first-party owned studios (the company now owns 15 game studios, seven of which were acquired in 2018) will be hard at making games for the Xbox Series X. The company’s heavy investment in acquiring game studios should give the Xbox Series X, an initial push with a number of exclusive titles on the launch day, something that’s becoming a norm in the industry. Sony is well aware of the importance of exclusive games- after all, such titles sell the console in the long run.
— Wendy’s 🇨🇦 (@WendysCanada) December 13, 2019
How Microsoft plans to integrate services with the Series X?
The battle for the next-generation consoles will be fought on the bouquet of services. Microsoft, being a software powerhouse, could implement a new approach to the way the console market functions. It’s with this possibility that Microsoft lures gamers to buy the Xbox Series X, like the iPhone, through a number of services. Over the past few years, Microsoft has quietly laid the groundwork for its Project xCloud, a cloud-based video game streaming service that rivals Google’s Stadia. Then there is Game Pass, a subscription service that gives Xbox One gamers access to a library of games to download and play as long as they are ready to pay for the service.
If we look from a broader perspective, Microsoft would like to integrate both Project xCloud and Game Pass with the Xbox Series X. This would give Microsoft not only an edge over Sony but also allow it to introduce a new business model to sell consoles. If Microsoft manages to get right with its strategy, the company can lead the video game industry on its own terms.
Proud to represent the work of so many on Team @Xbox tonight at #TheGameAwards, unveiling our fastest, most powerful console ever – Xbox Series X – built to reshape how developers create and players experience games in the next generation, designed to #PowerYourDreams https://t.co/ZWk9A32bdb
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) December 13, 2019
Will there be another console in 2020?
That’s a million-dollar question. Many believe Microsoft will likely launch a second console next year. It’s been reported that the second console, codenamed Lockhart, will apparently be disk-free and significantly less powerful. As usual, Microsoft never comments on these rumours. But there is a weight to the leaks, because the name Xbox Series X does seem to indicate that there could be a lineup of consoles, rather than one console. We didn’t hear much from Microsoft on why it picked the name “Series X” at The Game Awards 2019. Only Xbox boss Phil Spencer knows the answer.
Is the Xbox Series X more powerful than the PS5?
Microsoft touts the Xbox Series X, formerly codenamed “Project Scarlett”, to be the most powerful console than any other games console. It claims its next-generation console will have about four times greater CPU performance than the Xbox One and twice as much GPU as the Xbox One X. We get that, but it didn’t tell us whether or not the Xbox Series X will be more powerful than the PlayStation 5. Unfortunately, Sony is yet to fully disclose the specifications of the PS5, making it hard to believe Microsoft’s claims. Both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 seem remarkably similar in terms of internals. That begs the question: how could Microsoft claims its supremacy even before Sony announces the PS5? Is it a clever marketing ploy, or Microsoft is right in its claims? Only time will tell.
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