Recent leaks have suggested that the announced Xbox Series X might have a cousin, the Series S. While the console itself is not yet formally announced, packaging for the S Series controller has been spotted in the wild. This has led industry spectators to speculate it’s just a matter of time before a full Series S console joins the fray.
The source for the Series S leak comes from Twitter user @zakk_exe. Apparently found on the website OfferUp, Zack saw the opportunity to buy this controller for the potential goldmine that it was. Ostensibly caused through leaking or a miscommunication between sellers, the device has all appearances of being a legitimate Xbox product.
Xbox series X controller found in the wild!! pic.twitter.com/TEns4z45CB
— Zak S (@zakk_exe) August 9, 2020
This includes packaging and a quality of design which is far above what any potential fake-leakers should be able to manage. The information contained within this item is especially important, as it shows that the controller will operate on external AA batteries rather than an internal rechargeable solution. As this is a generally less-convenient but more inexpensive alternative, the controller gives the impression that it’s part of a cheaper overall system.
What Could a Series S Imply?
The most likely scenario is that the Xbox Series S compares to the Series X in the way that the Xbox One S does to the Xbox One X. It’s likely a cheaper option that, while not as powerful as the X model, should provide access to the same experiences.
In terms of games, we wouldn’t expect that the Series X or S would have any difference in what they can play. Rather, the expected variability will probably come in the form of lower resolutions and frame rates. The delayed Halo Infinite will likely illustrate this, as it has been officially announced to support 120FPS on the Series X. On a potential Series S, we would expect either a cap of 60, or an uncapped 60 or above.
— Halo (@Halo) July 31, 2020
It should also be noted that there are likely to be many smaller titles which will have identical graphics and performance over both systems. Illustrations of this could be found in the indie scene with games like Stardew Valley and Celeste, or with browser games. For example, consider any of the free spins online casino games available to users. These already run perfectly on low-powered devices, so changes between systems are simply unnecessary.
It might even be the case that it’s not just raw horsepower that the Series S is missing, it could be direct hardware graphics elements. Raytracing hardware, for example, is extremely expensive at this early state of its development for games like Control. Stripping this feature out of a Series S device could alone save significantly on manufacturing costs.
In Pursuit of a Lower Price
In totality, a Series S system makes a lot of sense if we consider how the next generation of systems is likely to be one of the most expensive yet. While prior generations of consoles have been impressive compared to their predecessors, they’ve long lagged behind the relative power of contemporary gaming PCs. For the next-gen systems, however, the new consoles are keeping pace better than they have in decades.
In some cases, as with the PS5’s announced storage solution, performance could even run parallel to the best in enthusiast PC hardware. This level of performance isn’t cheap, which makes a Series S alternative a safe bet. As for how cheap it could be compared to the Series X, for that we’ll have to wait and see.
With only a few months left until launch, there is a lot of frustration in the gaming world from the game of price chicken being played by Sony and Microsoft. Both are likely to launch their consoles at a loss, so both are waiting to see the other make the first move, that they might mitigate as much as possible while remaining competitive. The Series S could be an ace in the hole in this regard, begging the question of whether or not Sony can answer back.