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Leaker says Xbox Series S will be so cheap, PS5 can’t possibly match it

Published Jun 17th, 2020 1:46PM EDT
Xbox Series X Price
Image: Microsoft

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  • The price of the Xbox Series X will be lower than PS5, an insider said while revealing that Microsoft will soon introduce a Series S version of the console that would be even cheaper.
  • Xbox Series S will be introduced in July and it could cost just $200, according to the leaker.
  • Microsoft is supposedly planning a “night of mic-drops” in July, and the Series S will become a key to its strategy of becoming the Netflix of gaming.

Microsoft caught gamers off guard with the unexpected Xbox Series X design reveal in mid-December, and Sony took six more months to unveil the PS5. The two gaming giants clearly have very different marketing plans. But we’re only a few months away from the PS5 and Xbox Series X release dates. Both consoles will be launched this year, no matter what happens with the COVID-19 health crises.

Sony and Microsoft’s next console marketing fight will be about pricing, which is probably the most important thing for buyers right now — especially considering the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Recent reports said that Microsoft is looking to undercut Sony’s PS5 price, but then the Japanese conglomerate surprised fans with news that two PS5 versions will be available in stores in the future. The Digital Edition will be a diskless version of the PS5, and it’ll be more affordable as a result. Even so, Microsoft is supposedly readying an offer that Sony might not be able to beat — a cheap version of the Xbox Series X that would cost half of what Microsoft will ask for the flagship console.

The news comes from an insider who goes by the name Eastmen. Per Dutch blog TechTastic, the Beyond3D user has shared reliable information about Microsoft’s plans in the past. According to Eastmen, the Series S will be significantly smaller than Series X and it will not have a Blu-Ray drive. The console will be better than the Xbox One X when it comes to performance and will support the same set of features as the Series X.

“I heard it’s half the price of Xbox Series X, and Microsoft would target a $399 price for Xbox Series X. I’m not sure what the final price will be. I think if Sony goes for $500/$600, Microsoft will opt for 200 (Series S) and $400/$500 (Series X), but we’ll see,” the leaker said. “Microsoft will make up any losses they take by getting a higher cut of game sales and more subscriptions. Pricing also depends on what Sony does. Microsoft doesn’t have to go as extreme in pricing if Sony prices itself higher.”

The supposed insider also noted that the upcoming Xbox event in July won’t be solely about unveiling the price of the Series X and Series S, with the latter expected to be revealed for the first time at the event. Microsoft wants the event to be a “night of mic drops,” with new game launches playing a significant part in that.

“But from what I’ve heard from all my sources, July isn’t about Sony, July is about the industry, and they want it to be a night of mic drops,” he said. “They are going to come hard with the strategy they have been building up to for years and they want Google, Amazon, Apple, Sony, and yes Nintendo to shaken up. So expect a series of Mic drop moments followed by the price being the key part of all this.”

He continued, “I don’t know all that they will show in July but I’ve been told that they are ramping up so that their Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One releases combined pale in comparison to what they have for this generation coming up.”

The insider said that Microsoft aims to become the Netflix of game streaming, and the cheap Series S could offer the company a path into the homes of many buyers. “I was told that a goal is to have an Xbox Studio game out every other month by the time the ball really gets rolling. Not A or AA games but AAA games every other month so that people don’t stop subscribing,” he said. Also, Microsoft is supposedly buying five additional studios and is in negotiations with Warner Bros. for some content.

“That’s why I think Lockheart is a key device in their strategy,” he said. “It’s a low-cost gateway that they can control to make sure the hardware can handle their new compression techniques they will employee with xCloud over the next few years. The plan for Lockheart is to get into price categories they were never able to hit before and I believe based on listening between the lines that they expect Lockheart to at some point make it down to Fire TV size. Also, the size of the first Lockheart will surprise everyone.”

Needless to say, none of this information can be confirmed at this time. But Eastmen’s claims do line up with some of Microsoft’s recent remarks and actions. The company said the early Series X design reveal was supposed to shock fans and said it will continue to surprise buyers. Xbox chief Phil Spencer said recently that 2020 won’t necessarily be about selling new consoles, acknowledging the effects of the coronavirus on the economy. He said that Microsoft is focusing on the overall user experience, regardless of a person upgrades to the new Xbox or not. Previously, the exec remarked that Sony might not be the biggest threat to Microsoft’s Xbox plans. It’s companies like Amazon and Google that are capable of delivering cloud-based gaming experiences that can rival the Xbox.

With all that in mind, there’s no denying that a $200 all-digital Xbox that can deliver the best of both worlds would be hard to pass up. And it’s unlikely the PS5 Digital Edition could ever match it.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.