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Forums - Microsoft Discussion - Xbox Series S refresh

scrapking said:
DonFerrari said:

I can't agree that it should be looked as the first bundle that adds value without increasing price, because well as you said yourself it is a free game not everyone play and there also other ways that gives that currency for free. And as I also said, but if customer bases sees as added value and buy because of it no problem.

Most ways to get it "for free" require subscribing to some kind of service, so not really free.  And even at that they're buying more still.  Buying a corresponding amount of virtual currency would cost about $20 USD.  The fact that the game is free doesn't matter.  The fact that you can occasionally get small amounts of digital currency in other ways doesn't mean they wouldn't also need even more, and therefore would place a value on getting it with the console.  If Sony were including it with one of the PS5 SKUs, and not the other, I'd consider that a legit bundle.  It doesn't matter whether the virtual currency is for a free game or a paid game.  It doesn't matter if there are other ways to get it (including purchasing it).  It only matters that most people get it by buying it, and that therefor some console purchasers would attach a value to it.  There are always going to be bundles that some value and others don't.  If you're a Fortnite player who regularly buys V-bucks, and you're looking to get a new console, then this would undeniably increase your perception of the value getting a Series S.  Hence it's a value add.  Same as if it was a bundle that included a game that you don't want, or could get as part of some other subscription as well, it doesn't change the fact that some people will want that game, or won't have a subscription that gets them that game some other way.

I didn't deny your logic because I understand where you are coming from.

I denied calling it a value bundle because well for me MTX as a whole isn't even something that should exist, and you aren't getting a product in the bundle just some "useless" currency.

But again, I said that for the market or customers it can be seem as value added bundle, but that it wouldn't apply to me. Anyway the premise of Series S likely being the first to have free games included is one I do agree since it is the only one that have been more readily available in stores.



duduspace11 "Well, since we are estimating costs, Pokemon Red/Blue did cost Nintendo about $50m to make back in 1996"

http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/post.php?id=8808363

Mr Puggsly: "Hehe, I said good profit. You said big profit. Frankly, not losing money is what I meant by good. Don't get hung up on semantics"

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Azzanation: "PS5 wouldn't sold out at launch without scalpers."

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As stock of Series S continue to build up in the supply chain faster than Series X and PS5 stock, it lends credence to the idea that Microsoft will want to do something to make the Series S more desirable. There are the classic ways of doing so, via bundles and price cuts. I think bundles are more likely (especially given the fact that there are some unconfirmed, but likely to be true, reports that Microsoft may subsidize the Series S more than the Series X), especially since we're in our first significantly inflationary environment in decades. A bundle that includes first-party software, or x-number of months of Game Pass, could be a good way to hold the line on their already industry-leading price, while moving more units. So I think that's exceptionally likely in the near future as stock continues to build up in the channel. But... (next point in its own post)



There's also the rumour that Microsoft has been working on more powerful hardware that would sit between the current Series S and the Series X. I've given some additional thought to that.

The most obvious upgrade is a Series S with an optical drive. It would make the console physically larger, but it's already so friggin' small that that's not going to be a deal breaker for many. Anecdotally, especially in YouTube comments that I've read on many videos, there are a lot of people out there saying they'd buy a Series S if it came with an optical drive. These people might find the Series S powerful enough, and the price compelling, and even completely happy going all-digital going forward, but they may have big collections of OG Xbox and/or 360 and/or Xbox One games that they'd want to play under back-compat on an Xbox Series console. A new entry-level Series console with an optical drive, perhaps similar in spec to the Series S otherwise, would solve that for them. Perhaps at $350? Optical drives don't actually cost that much these days, not even UHD ones.

But the rumour that started this thread was new hardware that was more powerful than the Series S is in the pipeline. I have thought about the potential for that. Running back-compat titles on Series S is usually a great experience, often (not always, but often) nearly indistinguishable from doing so on the Series X. With one major exception: games with One X enhancements don't get them on the Series S. A new version of the Series S, improved *just* enough to being able to run back-compat games with One X enhancements, and an optical drive, would be a BEAST of a machine for a budget gamer who just wants to run back-compat, and subscribe to Game Pass. That machine could sell like *crazy*.  A few more GB of RAM, a slightly more capable GPU, and (optionally) an optical drive would be what's required. The CPU needn't change at all.

This second strategy wouldn't require developers to target three levels of Xbox Series console. They could still target just the standard Series X|S, with the extra horsepower here focused on relevant back-compat titles. And those would be identified by the OS, it wouldn't require intervention by the developers, or even by Microsoft (at least, not on a game-by-game basis).

There is the potential for one other upgrade with that extra horsepower, and that's an upgrade to the multitasking. I noted on my One X that if I switched back and forth between a game and an app (commonly I would swap between a game and a YouTube video about that game, such as an achievement or a Game Pass Quest walkthrough) that it would keep YouTube running in the background. With the Series S, presumably in part because of the drop in RAM from the One X to the Series S, it now restarts the YouTube app each time I swap back to YouTube. A Series S with more RAM could potentially do more with multi-tasking.  And the GPU and RAM upgrades may have some additional back-compat bonuses that wouldn't inconvenience developers, such as higher levels of OS-led anti-aliasing. Finally, games targeting the Series S that don't *quite* hit their performance targets consistently (Elden Ring being a recent example) might hit their performance targets more consistently on the Series S, or engage DRS (dynamic resolution scaling) less frequently. So there would be gameplay bonuses to a moderately more powerful Series S, even if developers didn't target it specifically.

A third option to an upgraded Series S would be to make it *just* powerful enough that games could optionally add a ray-tracing mode that is not available on the regular Series S, but would be on this improved hardware.  You could call it the Series S RT, or similar.  Developers wouldn't be required to do so, but if the hardware sold really well they'd probably start to do so.  Especially if they have an RT mode in the Series X that they could scale down to this mid-grade machine.  They'd otherwise likely be encouraged by Microsoft to just target the regular Series X|S, if their game isn't RT-enabled.

So those are my Monday musings on the rumours we saw about a more powerful version of the Series S potentially in development. I'm entirely digital going back to late in the 360 era (2011 was the last time I bought a physical game for a home console), but I do have OG Xbox and 360 games I'd like to play under back-compat, that I can't as I went Series S rather than X. So I'd potentially be interested in a moderately improved Series S with an optical drive, and would pass my current Series S on to someone else. Plus I have digital games with One X enhancements that I'm missing out on. So I'm hoping for something like this to happen.

Last edited by scrapking - on 25 April 2022

just my take on the situation. not too long ago i speculated that MS would be looking to improve the Series S in a couple of possible ways. The simplest would be to increase its SSD from 512 to 1tb. Basically the drives used in the SX would now be used in the SS and the SX would also get a bump in capacity to 2tb thanks to larger drives being made in the smaller form factor. this is inevitable as we have see HDD sizes increase over the life of the 360 and XBO respectfully.

The other option to improve the SS is to up the internal RAM from 10gb to 12gb. As small as that may seem... it's that 2gb difference that is really keeping the SS from running One X enhanced software even though the other specs of the SS exceed the One X considerably. The CPU is better, the GPU is more efficient in 4tf vs the older 6tf of the one X but the area the SS cant make up the difference is the ram. I mean if MS were to utilize virtual memory tricks (using ssd capacity as a portion of extended memory) of the old days, it still doesn't make up for the lack of one x enhanced capabilities that the SS is capable of doing.

If MS are planning to revise the series line then expect it to be the former that i mentioned (SSD capacity changes) rather than the latter. Although if they could give the SS 12gb it certainly wouldn't hurt and im sure devs would like having 12gb / 16gb split instead of 10gb / 16gb currently.



Yeah, I don't think that will happen as it just makes no sense. What does make sense is the standard console "refresh" that has been happening since the PSone age. Moving the SoC to a smaller, more efficient and less money to build manufacturing process. Putting in more storage, as prices come down over time. the PS3 came with a 40GB HDD for $499. Eventually a PS3 Slim had a 250GB HDD for $199. That is just how technology progresses.

An actually likely Xbox Series S refresh would look more like this: move the SoC down to TSMC's N5 process node, move to smaller/bigger memory chips (and therefore less overall of them, for more cost savings), put in 1TB of its flash storage, and finally keep the same $299 price. With the general drops in manufacturing prices for NAND in general, along with the smaller and cheaper SoC, smaller and cheaper and less memory chips, I'm guessing Microsoft would actually *improve* their profit margins while providing more value to the consumer at the same retail MSRP. Everyone wins haha



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darthv72 said:

just my take on the situation. not too long ago i speculated that MS would be looking to improve the Series S in a couple of possible ways. The simplest would be to increase its SSD from 512 to 1tb. Basically the drives used in the SX would now be used in the SS and the SX would also get a bump in capacity to 2tb thanks to larger drives being made in the smaller form factor. this is inevitable as we have see HDD sizes increase over the life of the 360 and XBO respectfully. [...]

NextGen_Gamer said:

[...] Putting in more storage, as prices come down over time. the PS3 came with a 40GB HDD for $499. Eventually a PS3 Slim had a 250GB HDD for $199. That is just how technology progresses. [...]

I think increased storage increases may well come.  However, at the moment, it's a particularly costly upgrade.  It is less costly in that it can be done without redesign of the entire console, but if Microsoft *does* decide to redesign the console then it might be more costly per unit to increase the storage than to increase the RAM or add an optical drive.  So while I do think the 512 GB of storage does hold the Series S back somewhat, I think it holds it less back than the power differential between it and the Series X/PS5 does, and especially less than the lack of an optical drive.

I also question how much of an advantage these very costly storage upgrades would be.  Surely upgrading the Series X to 2 TB isn't a necessity when Series X units continue to sell out most places, and the Series X already has a storage size advantage over the PS5 and its 825 GB SSD anyway?

Traditionally, HDD prices tended not to drop very quickly, they instead tend to get bigger for the same price.  So it made perfect sense that we saw dramatic increases in HDD size throughout the 360/PS3-era.  And less dramatically, but we also saw that during the Xbox One/PS4-era where the systems started the generation with 512 GB and ended typically with 1 TB (and Microsoft even experimented with 2TB mid-generation).

However, with the shift to SSD, I think we may instead see price reductions.  That may work against larger capacity drives, as Microsoft and Sony probably *will* reap significant cost savings by holding the line on drive size.  That's especially true for Microsoft that has a cost advantage with the Series S that they won't want to relinquish and already has a size advantage with the 1 TB Series X.  So my guess is Microsoft will likely hold the line on size, at least for the Series X, unless and until Sony makes a move to a 1 TB (or larger) drive, especially since Microsoft makes money selling expansion drives, unlike Sony.  So for a bunch of reasons, I think Microsoft may not make a move unless and until Sony does.

However, if Microsoft can swing a 1 TB Series S with an optical drive for the same retail as the PS5 Digital, that *could* be an interesting proposition that they might strongly consider.  It would be an interesting contrast.  More horsepower for the PS5 Digital, but more storage space and the ability to play disc-based games on a hypothetical Series S Disc.  That might be a proposition that would sway some people towards a theoretical Series S that wouldn't otherwise go that way.  That's less relevant now since all versions of the PS5 are in extremely high demand, so Microsoft might target the release of such a SKU closer to a point where they anticipate PS5 supply and demand catching up with each other.



darthv72 said:

[...] The other option to improve the SS is to up the internal RAM from 10gb to 12gb. As small as that may seem... it's that 2gb difference that is really keeping the SS from running One X enhanced software even though the other specs of the SS exceed the One X considerably. The CPU is better, the GPU is more efficient in 4tf vs the older 6tf of the one X but the area the SS cant make up the difference is the ram. I mean if MS were to utilize virtual memory tricks (using ssd capacity as a portion of extended memory) of the old days, it still doesn't make up for the lack of one x enhanced capabilities that the SS is capable of doing.

If MS are planning to revise the series line then expect it to be the former that i mentioned (SSD capacity changes) rather than the latter. Although if they could give the SS 12gb it certainly wouldn't hurt and im sure devs would like having 12gb / 16gb split instead of 10gb / 16gb currently.

I think a RAM and/or GPU upgrade could/should happen in a mid-range SKU.  Add in an optical drive and focus on the $399 USD price point.  However, because the SSD is expandable (unlike the RAM and GPU), the SSD could theoretically stay at 512 GB in this scenario.  The SSD is a huge chunk of the cost of making these systems at this point, so increasing it even a small amount would really work against hitting the $399 price point that Microsoft would absolutely need to meet or beat to make a mid-range SKU make any sense at all.  If they can't hit the $399 USD price point, I don't think Microsoft would choose to release it.

The main thing would be communicating to users that the Series S SKU either isn't going away (a super-budget option, or a developing markets version of the Xbox Series line-up, perhaps?) or (if the SKU *does* go away) that support for it isn't disappearing anytime soon.  So either a mid-range SKU, or a new entry-level SKU, would either live alongside continued production of the current Series S, or developers would have to be encouraged/required to target the current X|S and not required to also target this new SKU (especially if its horsepower is only marginally improved over the current Series S).  There's precedent for that, where Microsoft moderately improved the GPU when going from the One (VCR) to the One S.  This might be a more significant change, but it might similarly be something that flies under the radar as far as software support is concerned with games continuing to target the Series X and the original Series S exclusively.  Like I said in a previous post, the extra horsepower could be focused on back-compat and/or multitasking improvements in situations where developers don't elect to utilize it.



NextGen_Gamer said:

Yeah, I don't think that will happen as it just makes no sense. What does make sense is the standard console "refresh" that has been happening since the PSone age. Moving the SoC to a smaller, more efficient and less money to build manufacturing process. [...]

An actually likely Xbox Series S refresh would look more like this: move the SoC down to TSMC's N5 process node, move to smaller/bigger memory chips (and therefore less overall of them, for more cost savings), put in 1TB of its flash storage, and finally keep the same $299 price. With the general drops in manufacturing prices for NAND in general, along with the smaller and cheaper SoC, smaller and cheaper and less memory chips, I'm guessing Microsoft would actually *improve* their profit margins while providing more value to the consumer at the same retail MSRP. Everyone wins haha

I don't think moving to a smaller process node will reap cost savings, at least not significant ones.  Microsoft was very clear that, while in the past it helped with cost savings, this generation they think smaller processes may actually maintain (or even raise) the cost of building consoles.  And Microsoft said that they felt that was true even before the chip shortage, and even before the current high-inflation environment.

Microsoft still intends to do it, because of the size and thermal advantages.  But they don't anticipate it driving costs down.  There's a great interview, on EuroGamer I think, where a Microsoft spokesperson explains that's *why* they made the Series S.  They don't think the same opportunities to drive down Series X (or PS5) prices exist that there were in previous gens and, therefore, they decided to launch out of the gate with a budget option based upon the new architecture.  They saw a budget option based on the new architecture (Zen 2, RDNA 2) as preferable to what's Sony's ended up having to do (make more last-gen consoles).  As much as Sony says building more PS4s is due to shortages, it's also driven at least in part by the fact that not everyone wants to spend $400+ on a new console, as they didn't in previous generations where the last-gen consoles were often manufactured years into the new generation.  Microsoft's approach of retiring last-gen production entirely should help retire the last-gen faster, whereas Sony's approach may help perpetuate last-gen support longer.



Don't know why this didn't occur to me until now, but there was also an Xbox 360 S (the first "good" 360 hardware iteration, arguably the best of the bunch in fact). So an Xbox Series S refresh could be called the S4 (or "S 4", or S^4). With the 360 S being the first "S", then the One S, then the Series S, and then finally the refresh being the fourth S.