- Microsoft’s new Xbox console, Xbox Series X, is currently in development.
- The new console is scheduled to arrive in “holiday 2020,” and Microsoft says it’ll be four times more powerful than its current Xbox One X console.
- Xbox Series X has an SSD for faster load times and a more powerful processor from AMD for better graphics.
- Additionally, the new Xbox console will carry forward your purchases and progression from Xbox One games. Any existing backwards compatibility with original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles on the Xbox One will also carry forward.
- The next major “Halo” game, “Halo Infinite,” is scheduled to launch alongside Xbox Series X next year.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
It may not feel like it right now, but soon enough we’ll be looking back on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as “last-gen” consoles.
Both Sony and Microsoft are deep into development of next-generation game consoles, and Microsoft just outright revealed its new console: Xbox Series X is scheduled to launch in “holiday 2020.”
- Microsoft / The Game Awards
Here’s the short version: The upcoming Xbox Series X is a new Xbox that’s much more powerful than any current Xbox, it runs discs, and it supports games from previous Xbox generations.
But there’s much, much more to know about the next Xbox – let’s dig in:
1. The Philosophy: “For us, the console is vital, and central to our experience. We heard you — a console should be designed and built and optimized for one thing, and one thing only: gaming.”
With the Xbox One, Microsoft notoriously fumbled the announcement. While introducing the Xbox One, the company spent a lot of time talking about “entertainment” rather than gaming – the core of all video game consoles.
This time, Microsoft isn’t making the same mistake.
When the console was first detailed in June at E3 2019, the annual video game trade show, the very first thing that Xbox head Phil Spencer said about the new console was the quote above – “we heard you” being core to that message.
Spencer, on behalf of Microsoft, is making a direct effort to earn back the so-called “core gamer” audience that was so critical to the success of the Xbox 360.
To that end, the first details on the Xbox Series X, which was then code-named Project Scarlett, were focused on the kind of under-the-hood specs that will appeal most to that core audience.
2. The specs: A big step up over even the most powerful Xbox One console — “four times more powerful than the Xbox One X.”
“Xbox Series X will be our fastest, most powerful console ever and set a new bar for performance, speed and compatibility,” Spencer said on Thursday evening, when the console’s design and name were revealed at the 2019 Game Awards.
The Xbox Series X, he said, is four times faster than the current Xbox One X – an already powerful game console.
But let’s not beat around the bush. Here are the approximate specs of Microsoft’s next Xbox:
- Processor: AMD “Navi” processor (“SoC”): “At the heart of our next-generation console is our custom-designed processor, leveraging the latest Zen 2 and and Navi technology from our partners at AMD.”
- Memory: GDDR6 RAM
- Optical Media Drive: Blu-ray disc drive
- Storage: Solid-state drive
Microsoft says all that hardware can produce 8K visuals, and up to 120 frames-per-second. The company also says that the SSD will load games faster than ever before.
All these specs are relatively meaningless, of course. What matters is how they’re used.
3. The broad goal for Xbox Series X: Make it easier to play games on whatever device you want with whoever you want to play with. (But also, yes, it will still play discs).
Microsoft’s been talking about a new Netflix-like video game streaming solution for awhile now, called Project xCloud. You can even use it yourself for free – it’s currently in beta.
The idea is you can play whatever games you want on whatever device you want (as long as you have a strong, stable internet connection). That plan is still in the works, and is a part of the vision for the next generation of Xbox – but so is a physical disc drive and a digital storage system as well.
All of which is to say one thing: No, this isn’t a video game streaming box. Xbox Series X is very much a video game console in the traditional sense.
But in the long run, Microsoft wants Xbox Series X to be the centerpiece of a broader strategy to get people playing games on whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want, even without owning a physical video game console.
4. The games: “Halo Infinite” is a launch title, and a few other next-gen games are in the works outside of Microsoft.
- “Halo Infinite”/Microsoft Studios
In the announcement video from June, a Microsoft employees says “hundreds” of people inside and outside of Microsoft are already working on games for Xbox Series X.
Also in the video, “Halo Infinite” was revealed as a launch title for the next-gen Xbox console – the next major entry in the decades-old “Halo” first-person shooter series.
And it’s safe to assume that other major first-party game franchises, like “Gears of War” and “Forza,” are in production. Microsoft said that “15 Xbox Game Studios are developing the largest and most creatively diverse lineup of Xbox exclusive games in our history” for the Xbox Series X.
Outside of Microsoft, at least two major next-gen games are in the works that we already know of: “The Elder Scrolls VI” and “Starfield,” both from Bethesda Softworks.
And beyond that, there are some obvious guesses we can make: The annual new “Call of Duty” game coming in 2020 will almost certainly come to the next Xbox (and PlayStation), as well as a new “Assassin’s Creed” game.
Microsoft additionally revealed another new game coming to the Xbox Series X at some point in the future: “Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2.”
5. The look: “We wanted to design a console where the form was driven by the function. And the function, as I said, was to really play the highest power, most immersive games possible.”
The design of the Xbox Series X, first revealed on December 12 at the 2019 Game Awards, is a major departure from traditional game console design.
Rather than looking like futuristic DVD player, like so many game consoles before it, the Xbox Series X resembles an austere PC tower. It has a disc slot for Blu-ray discs, and a glowing Xbox button for turning the console on, and there’s at least one USB plug hiding out on the lower right corner. We’ve yet to see what it looks like around back, but the top is just a massive air duct for cooling.
In an exclusive hands-on with Xbox Series X, GameSpot’s Peter Brown described the console’s size as such: “Series X’s square footprint is roughly as wide as an Xbox One controller and (again, roughly) three times as tall.”
Moreover, it can be oriented horizontally or vertically, which should allow it to be easily fit into home entertainment centers.
6. The Bonus Details: All your Xbox One stuff is coming forward to the next-gen Xbox, including the backwards compatible stuff that worked there.
Xbox Series X console will play all your Xbox One games. It will also play all the original Xbox and Xbox 360 games that your Xbox One would play, and it’ll work with all your Xbox One accessories.
Indeed, Microsoft confirmed that the new Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 – a $180 premium controller for the most discerning gamer – will be compatible with both the Xbox One and Xbox Series X.
“Your games, your achievements, your progression, your accessories – your console gaming experience with Xbox? It all comes forward,” a Microsoft staffer said in the June intro video.
Given that, and given how popular some games are with current-gen console owners – think “Fortnite” and “Minecraft” – a big question is whether those games will work across game console generations.
It sounds like the answer is yes.
“At the highest level, if you talk about these games that have such massive communities today, a lot of those developers and studios are going to want to think about how they grow their community – not take it to zero and rebuild it,” Xbox head Phil Spencer told Business Insider in an interview in June..
Spencer said he didn’t want to speak on behalf of any developers, but that the concept philosophically “fit right in” to the company’s vision for the future of Xbox.