- The incumbent models of the existing Xbox console lineup is getting a mid-generation refresh in time for the holiday season next year.
- However, unlike with Sony's plans to introduce a more powerful model, Microsoft is simply adding more storage and making slight improvements.
- It remains to be seen if this move will help Microsoft keep up with its competitors, Sony and Nintendo.
In what's easily the most unexpected revelation in gaming today, documents mistakenly released during the FTC's case against the Activision Blizzard merger have potentially given away Microsoft's plans for the next phase of its Xbox lineup for 2024.
Microsoft is apparently preparing a mid-generation refresh for its Xbox Series X and S consoles, which is technically in line with the company's previous statements.
The new Xbox Series X, otherwise known internally as the "Brooklin", will undergo a striking transformation. Instead of looking like a fridge - Xbox leaned on this joke although Heineken's take on gaming fridges is easily the best - the new Xbox will bear a novel cylindrical design, notably absent of a disc drive, marking a transition towards an entirely digital gaming platform. Brooklin will double the storage capacity at 2TB and will benefit from a USB-C port on the front. The refreshed Series X will also draw 15% less power overall. More importantly, its new low-power standby mode will use merely 20% of the current Series S standby mode's power.
Microsoft isn't leaving the Xbox Series S behind. Despite the recent controversies surrounding its lack of performance, the new economical console, dubbed by Microsoft as the "Elleweed", will be released in September next year and sport a similar design but with an expanded storage capacity of 1TB.
With an existing 1TB carbon black Series S available for a slightly steeper $349.99, Microsoft aims to clear out the older 512 GB Series S inventory by slashing its price to $199.
Both updated consoles come with a revolutionary new Xbox controller, the "Sebile". The all-new controller stands out for its precision haptic feedback, which intriguingly doubles as a speaker. It's equipped with an accelerometer for better and more precise gyro controls, improved modular thumbsticks, quieter buttons, and enhanced Bluetooth and wireless connections.
According to the disclosed documents, this new controller plays a central role in the Xbox ecosystem strategy. As it laid out in the "Roadmap to 2030" the controller will be the primary device gamers need, regardless of platform, even if it's the next Microsoft console. However, this doesn't indicate a diminishing importance of consoles for Microsoft. In fact, the same document underscores the continued centrality of consoles, noting they remain vital for brand health and major revenue drivers.
The decision to transition to an entirely digital lineup and drop the disc drive is raising a lot of eyebrows. Xbox, which is a company championing backwards compatibility, appears to be backpedaling from commitments it made in the past. By dropping disc drives, Microsoft risks alienating the same playerbase it encouraged to invest in physical games for the Xbox One and Xbox Series X. But, all isn't lost - Microsoft could copy Sony's approach and introduce an external disc drive albeit this isn't a detail found in the leaked documents.
However, it's worth noting that these plans, even if accurate, could change. Following such a substantial unintentional leak, Microsoft might feel compelled to revise its strategy.
Nonetheless, these revelations provide an intriguing insight into the potential future of Xbox gaming, blending a better performance, eco-friendliness, and streamlined design.
Neither the Brooklin nor the Elleweed are touting improved performance. It appears Microsoft is sticking to its plans to skip a mid-cycle upgrade similar to the Xbox One X. It's possible that Microsoft looked at the numbers and it no longer makes financial sense for them to keep up with Sony. Ironically, not getting caught up in the arms race is a mantra that Nintendo, a company Microsoft attempted to acquire in 2020, has adopted for years.
Elsewhere in the same leaked documents, Bethesda was found out to be working on remasters of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3. It remains to be seen if these are minor graphical retouches to the classic games or a full-on remake, as per the earlier rumors.