By Quentin H. / December 13th, 2019
The Xbox Series X is one sexy monolith. Complete with a custom-designed CPU based on Zen 2 and Radeon RDNA architecture, a solid state drive, and 8k graphics with 120 frames-per-second gaming, the Xbox Series X is a full leap forward into the next generation of console gaming. And in a clear nod to the importance of sharing your gaming experiences on social media and YouTube in 2019, there is even now a dedicated Share button. If you don’t believe me about all this, then please just check out this 4k reveal trailer from the Game Awards last night:
That said, there are questions that need to be answered in advance of the Xbox Series X being released just in time for the 2020 Holiday season, and that will shape how successful that Xbox Series X will be:
1) How will the Xbox Series X revolutionize or integrate into people’s already existing entertainment and smart home setups?
It is no secret that Microsoft has always been interested in increasing their footprint in the consumer’s living room. In fact, back in the early days when the original Xbox was seeking initial development approval, there was a team developing a WebTV Xbox-alternative that would allow living room occupants internet access, digital video recording, and more. Microsoft finally succeeded in invading the living room with the Xbox One X and tying in Spotify, DVD/Blu-Ray playing, and steaming (Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc) to make it as easily as possible to access.
Doubtlessly, these Xbox One X features will return in the Xbox Series X. But what will be next? Will Microsoft tie Cortana, Alexa, or Siri into their console to fully control a smart home, including lights and temperature and the oven? Will the Xbox Series X also function as a Cortana stand-alone Echo/Google Home-esque music player?
There is so much potential for interconnectivity in 2019/2020 that simply did not exist when the Xbox One first launched in 2013. In my home, I have Alexa devices tied into not just my home entertainment system and TV set, but I have my Xbox One X linked to Alexa as well. I can turn the console on and off, start and close apps, and more on my console with just my voice and my Amazon Echo Spot device. The potential for so, SO much more is there…and hopefully Microsoft will take advantage of it, either with Alexa/Siri/Google or their own Cortana.
2) How much will the Xbox Series X cost?
Console price is always, ALWAYS, important.
At 1995’s E3, SEGA announced that the SEGA Saturn would not just be immediately available in select stores (like, right now), but it would cost 399 dollars. Sony then took the stage after SEGA for their keynote presentation, and Steve Race made a simple announcement that was heard around the world in a video clip that lasts less than a minute:
This single announcement was arguably the beginning of the end for the SEGA Saturn, no matter how fantastic Panzer Dragoon Saga and NiGHTS: Into Dreams… was.
When the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 opened against each other late in 2013, the Xbox One clocked in at 500 dollars and the PlayStation 4 was released at 400 dollars. Sales for the Xbox One lagged behind the PlayStation 4, which undoubtedly played a role in Microsoft dropping both the Kinect and the Xbox One’s price by $100 dollars in May 2014.
Finally, the 3DO console launched in October 1993 for an eye-watering 700 dollars and died off three-years later with three different console version and an incredibly pithy library.
We have yet to hear about how much the Xbox Series X will cost. While I sincerely doubt that we will know the final tag number until much later on, a console that is either too expensive or priced far above the competition can quite possibly hurt sales or make people want to pick the cheaper console option (as more games will undoubtedly be cross-platform once again).
3) What does the word ‘Series’ mean?
If you want an Xbox One, you have a lot of options. You have the Xbox One (the discontinued original), the Xbox One S (smaller version of the original), Xbox One X (the upgraded version of the original), and the Xbox One S All-Digital (Xbox One S, but doesn’t take discs).
That’s four different options of consoles. So far, Microsoft has only shown off one (again, quite sexy) monolith. But the name, ‘Series’, implies more than one version. How many different console options will there be at launch and how (tying into Question 2) will they be priced, both against each other and against the PlayStation 5?
Or will there be one model released at launch, with a re-vamp upgrade promised for Holiday season 2021?
As someone who has to have the latest and greatest, I would want to hold off on buying an Xbox Series X, I certainly don’t want an inferior model that will be shunted away into a closet in a couple short years for a prettier, better version. It is simply far too much money that I am not willing to invest in re-buying a home console more than once.
4) What are the launch console-exclusive and Microsoft-exclusive games?
We only know two titles that will be coming out solely for the Xbox Series X and not the Xbox One so far: 1) Halo Infinite and 2) Ninja Theory’s Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2. Of those two games, the only one confirmed for a holiday 2020 release is Halo Infinite, though I would be shocked if Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 doesn’t come out then as well.
A console really lives or dies by their launch games, and that is not done with just with a single flagship title. The original Xbox didn’t just come out with Halo: Combat Evolved, but it also had Dead or Alive 3 and Project Gotham Racing. The NES launched not just with Super Mario Bros., but also with Ice Climber, Clu Clu Land, and Duck Hunt. And I’ll buy lunch for the first person who runs into me at E3 or GDC in 2020 and who can name three decent launch titles for the ultimately-failed Atari Jaguar.
Halo Infinite and (presumably) Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 will undoubtedly be successful, but they alone won’t carry a console to success. With the full announcement of the Xbox Series X, hopefully more developers/publishers will start announcing all sorts of exclusive Xbox Series X titles that will be launched alongside the console in Holiday 2020. And hopefully none of them will be the modern-day tech-demo equivalent of Knack or Ryse of Rome.
But beyond that, one of the biggest issues that the Xbox One faced was the lack of first-party exclusive titles. Setting aside the PC-crossover, a grand majority of Xbox One titles either was made to be cross-platform or a timed Xbox console exclusive release like Rise of the Tomb Raider. Sure, you have the rare exception like the amazing Sunset Overdrive, but that was much more the exception than the rule. Microsoft needs to show people that there are experiences that they can ONLY get on Xbox Series X, and this console needs to launch with a few of them that would stand up to anything that Sony could possibly offer.
Ultimately, these are just four questions that I have immediately after seeing the Xbox Series X launch that I am hopeful will be answered in the coming weeks and months as more and more news is revealed about the Xbox Series X, especially during E3 2020. I personally am excited for this upcoming console in a ridiculous way, and I cannot wait to see how it all looks and plays when it comes out.
As more Xbox Series X news is revealed, you can be sure oprainfall will be right there to report it all to you. So stay tuned!
 Takahashi, D. Opening the Xbox: Inside Microsoft’s Plan to Unleash an Entertainment Revolution. (2002). Rosevillle, California: Prima Publishing. Pgs. 108-09.
AlexaCortanaGame AwardsHaloHalo InfiniteKinectMicrosoftpriceSiriXboxXbox Series X
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