The Xbox Series X and Series S have been released for two weeks now, and players have been sinking their teeth into Microsoft's newest consoles. Whilst the Series X offers incredible performance, rivaling PC capabilities more than any console before, the Series S provides a cheaper alternative for players who want to still be a part of the next generation of video games.
With Sony's new console, the PlayStation 5, now also available worldwide, comparisons are starting to be made between the two launch performances. However, Microsoft don't seem to class Sony as an "enemy" anymore, seemingly ending the era of 'console-wars'.
In an interview with The Verge , Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft, Phil Spencer, discussed the decision to release two consoles at launch, the Series X and Series S, rather than continuing the pattern they set during the previous generation, releasing a single console at launch:
We started from a point of view [that] gaming should be growing, going back to our first point as an industry. Microsoft should be growing as part of that industry. I want to grow faster than the industry is growing, but I want to be part of a growing industry.
It was really this inclusion: how do we include more people in the launch euphoria and hype and everything that happens, and make it as accessible to [as many] more people as possible. Going to that [question of] how do you really build things that can get to true scale and influence everybody and impact everybody on the planet?
Later in the interview, Spencer also stated that there were multiple arguments against doing multiple consoles at launch, and that the decision to release both Series S and Series X largely came down to " what Sony was doing. "
We didn’t think that they (Sony) were going to do it. I’ve said it before, I have a ton of respect for what Sony does. It’s not to say what they’re doing is wrong. [But] if it’s, we’re going to go compete with one hardware competitor and we just want to make it as easy as possible to compare our one product to their one product, that was the thought process that would have you push to say, no, just do one thing.
We want to think about how we bring more people into the gaming funnel, have more people experience this art form that we love. The pushback against [doing one console] was always, but we want to grow, we want to find new customers.
Criticism has come Microsoft's way recently for the decisions they have been made in naming their software. The interviewer questions " Do people understand what the difference between the Series S and Series X [is] ?" Spencer attempts to help fans understand this by pulling comparison to other high profile releases:
I think sometimes inside of the industry, we want to be poking at ourselves. We can look at Series S and Series X, even the enunciation of S and X isn’t the easiest to differentiate. For most consumers, they walk in and one’s $500 and one’s $300. That’s the difference. Not to make everything about the iPhone, but if you asked me to explain the iPhone lineup, I can’t really do it, but when I walk in the store, it’s pretty clear. One’s big, one’s not, one’s $1,000, one’s $800, whatever.
WHAT THIS MEANS
The decision to release two different consoles at launch seems to be a smart one from Microsoft. For the hardcore, daily gamer, Xbox Series X provides you with extreme performance from a console, without having to understand how to build it. The Series S provides a platform into the next generation of gaming, as well as still giving fans an ability to utilize Xbox's biggest draw factor, Xbox Games Pass, all at a much lower cost.
Only time will tell whether Series X and Series S will be a success for Microsoft. Whilst Sony have adopted to release a digital version of the PS5 , the internal hardware of their two consoles matches like for like. Will Microsoft regret weakening the power of their secondary console? Or will Series S pave the way for the next generation of Xbox?