Microsoft has recently announced an all-digital version of the Xbox one S which excludes the traditional optical disk in favour of getting all your gaming content via digital downloads. The console is set to launch on May 7th with an expected manufacturer retail price of $250 USD.
The console will come with 3 digital games to help you get started on your collection. Namely, Minecraft, Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon 3. Buyers will also have the option of paying $1 for a 3-month subscription to Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service by Microsoft whereby users pay a monthly fee for access to over 100 titles in their Xbox library.
Now again, it is important to emphasize the timing of this announcement. As with all other console-related announcements we have received news of this year, we need to step back and look at the bigger picture.
First things first, the pretext. This new console refresh will definitely not have the horsepower to run any of the next generation games. Developers may not be keen to support a console like this with relatively under-powered hardware for long as we transition into the next console generation.
More than meets the eye – No your Xbox isn’t transforming
New consoles are coming in the horizon, we’ve known that for quite some time now. The announcement and sale of this console pretty much defies the convention of any refreshes of a particular console or device we’ve seen from any of these console manufacturers. Traditionally, the refreshes to particular models only ever happen at the middle of its life cycle; here we can point to the release of “slim” versions of a particular device being released throughout console history.
I think that there is more to Microsoft’s agenda than meets the eye. This could be Microsoft’s experiment at not only pushing their subscription services and digital game downloads, but also for cloud streaming as well. The initial “all-digital” push is just a façade and testing ground to survey the popularity and concept of both digital games and cloud streaming to non-existing customers.
I’m calling their bluff
It is no secret to anyone that the original Xbox one has the weakest hardware of the current generation consoles, where better place could Microsoft be to sell cheap hardware to consumers; whose horsepower will not even be taxed by next generation games via cloud streaming?
I think Microsoft will definitely be announcing something about their game streaming service, Project xCloud, soon together with the announcement of a new console on the horizon. Perhaps at E3 this year?
You can bet that Microsoft will try to push original Xbox one owners to cloud streaming while appeasing Xbox one X owners with some form of “graphical parity” against the next generation console.