Spencer breaks down the roles of the two machines.
While both Sony and Microsoft are releasing two different systems this Holiday season, the approach for both is a huge difference. The two PS5 units that’ll be available will be essentially the same thing, just one has a disc drive and the other doesn’t. But with Microsoft, the two systems may play the same games, but by and large, they seem to be aimed at very different audiences.
In an interview with Le Figaro, Xbox boss Phil Spencer talked about the aims of both boxes. As I’m sure you know by now, the Series X is the more powerful of the two, being comparable to both PS5 models’ specs and will be priced the same as Sony’s PS5 with the disc drive at $499. The Series S, however, has lower specs and a much lower price. At $299, it’s a full $100 lower than the digital-only version of Sony’s next generation machine. As Spencer lays out, this difference means they are shooting for two separate audiences: the Series S is more for the mass market, mainstream audience and the Series X is targeted at the more “core” audience, who are looking for the best possible machine (thanks to ResetERA user bingo for translating).
“We are working with distribution to fully explain our offers and ensure that consumers make their choice with full knowledge of the facts,” Spencer said. “It’s up to us to be transparent and honest about the capabilities of each model. We will adapt to the target audience. The Series S will be featured in mainstream campaigns. The Series X will be pushed to core gaming targets.”
It’s an obvious strategy with what we know about each system, but also a very unusual one, too. Nothing quite like this has been done in the console space before, and it has proven controversial. Some developers have been critical of the Series S (with main fears being about its low RAM), and Sony allegedly considered a similar approach, but feared the hardware would be seen as outdated too quickly by consumers.
It will be interesting to see where the Series S falls. It is, without a doubt, priced to move, and Microsoft hitting this sort of low-end, high-end scope is something that seems like a slam dunk on paper, but who knows how it will translate to the actual market. The Xbox Series S and X will release on November 10th, with pre-orders set to go live tomorrow.