The Xbox Series S is largely forgotten about when it comes to discussing the newest generation of consoles. A less powerful machine than Microsoft’s flagship, the Series X, and Sony’s PS5, its existence and relevance is often questioned. Recently, there has been a wave of online debate over the Series S, and whether Microsoft should abandon it altogether, with some suggesting that the console is holding back this gaming generation. It could be strongly argued though, that the Series S is a fantastic console with some excellent features, and has done wonders for the Xbox ecosystem. Here’s why.
Some excellent features
Although not equal in raw power compared with the more expensive Series X, the Series S contains some comparable features, with some of them a remarkable inclusion considering the lower price of the console. Like the Series X, the S boasts the ability to achieve up to 120 fps depending on the game, and features a marked increase in speed from the previous generation due to its SSD. Ray tracing is also present, albeit in a more limited capacity than the X, but this is impressive considering the small size and price tag of the S, and something you may expect would only be found in the flagship. Equally as impressive is the inclusion of Variable Refresh Rate, available for consumers with HDMI 2.1 and another feature you may think is reserved only for the more powerful hardware.
Another comparable feature and one that is of great benefit to consumers is the ability to utilize Smart Delivery. This allows players comfort in the knowledge that the best version of their game for the Series S will be the one automatically selected to be installed. This is a far better system than Sony’s offering, which invites players to choose from the PS5 or PS4 versions of a game before installing. Quick Resume is also extremely useful, allowing you to jump back into a game where you left off immediately upon starting a new play session on the Series S. While these convenient features are also found in the more expensive Series X, they are nonetheless worthwhile inclusions in the cheaper console, and contribute to its value for consumers.
A Game Pass machine
They also complement another convenient attribute of the S, its small size. While the bulky Series X can be difficult to find a home for, the tiny Series S allows many more options in this regard. Of course, the lack of a disc drive greatly contributes to its small stature, while also complementing the grand strategy of Xbox: Game Pass. A lower priced model has resulted in more players owning Xbox’s, and with no disc drive, a Game Pass subscription is the obvious choice for the Series S owner. More subscriptions to Xbox Game Pass results in the service being further supported, something we have seen in recent months with the announcement of a huge amount of upcoming day one releases onto the service, and a growing confidence in Game Pass from Microsoft.
A growing focus on Game Pass only heightens the appeal to buy the disk drive-less, cheaper Series S in the eyes of a consumer interested in subscribing, and so the cycle repeats. The Series S is an incredibly important asset to Microsoft as they move forward with Game Pass as their focus, and this won’t change anytime soon. Subscription models have already become a defining feature of this generation, and the Series S has already played a key role.
The price of the Series S also means that for many people, it will be their first console, and represents their first link into gaming as a whole. It is an accessible gateway into gaming, something only helped by the appeal and ludicrously excellent value of Game Pass. While it could be argued that the Nintendo Switch may be the frontrunner in terms of beginner consoles with its family friendly image and mass appeal, it is hard to ignore the overall package that a Series S and Game Pass subscription combo presents for a gaming newcomer. Lowering the price of entry for the average consumer is also an important factor when considering the impact and relevance of the Series S, as it allows more people to interact with what is an extremely expensive hobby.
Aiding indie developers
The large number of eyes on Game Pass as a result of Series S sales is of course, hugely beneficial. Not only to Microsoft, but also to the many small developers releasing games on the service every month. Indie titles have a strong presence on Game Pass, and the discovery of many unknown gems as you find something new to play is one of its most enjoyable aspects. Indie games are reaching audiences to a degree previously unseen, and the Series S is one reason for this, boosting Game Pass numbers and therefore benefitting developers. While there has been online murmurs of the Series S holding back this generation, the console is certainly helping visibility for developers. While it may be in a more indirect way in this case, the Series S is still having a positive effect on one huge aspect of the generation.
A great console
Overall, the Xbox Series S is a fantastic console, for many reasons. While it doesn’t contain the power of the Series X, and it isn’t necessarily at the forefront of developers’ minds when creating games, it has proven itself beneficial to the consumer, the industry, and Microsoft. Its specs are still impressive, with some features that are worthy inclusions for such a small machine, and others that compare well with the console’s bigger brother. Its link to Game Pass is undoubtedly its biggest strength, with the lack of a disc drive and a low price point driving consumers towards the subscription service. Getting eyes on the many indie games on Game Pass helps those developers get a foothold in a fiercely competitive industry, and the Series S aids that too, providing a lower barrier to entry for many people that may not have considered purchasing an Xbox previously, and helping put those games in front of those new players. The lack of an equivalent PlayStation console also helps sales of the Series S, with Microsoft presenting an appealing option for first time console buyers looking for a cheaper way in, regardless of brand. The two-console model is working extremely well for Microsoft, and the excellent Series S will continue to be an important part of the newest generation going forward.