Report: Xbox Series S dominated PS5 and Xbox Series X at retail during Black Friday

Xbox Series S
Xbox Series S (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Adobe's Digital Economy Index claims that the Xbox Series S has become the dominant console of Black Friday.
  • This is because it's actually available to buy, unlike the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
  • Despite some analyst skepticism about the Xbox Series S, it certainly seems to be holding its own.

While PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X dominate the mindshare when it comes to general console conversation, it turns out that it's actually the runt of the litter that's taking up a lot of the traction. That is, at least according to a report from Business Insider and the Adobe Digital Economy Index, who claim the Xbox Series S is outstripping PS5 and Xbox Series X in early Black Friday projections.

While there are no hard sales figures from Adobe, they say that across the "trillions" of retail site visits, it's the Xbox Series S that is seeing much of the sell-through. And you don't need a degree in economics to work out why.

Thanks to the global chip shortage, silicon to produce cutting-edge hardware like the PS5 and Xbox Series X is simply hard to come by. Microsoft and Sony both are selling through all of their stock of the PS5 and XSX near instantaneously, as soon as they hit shelves. The Xbox Series S by comparison uses less powerful internals, which are easier to source in an economy desperate for chips for anything from electric vehicles to smart toasters.

While the Xbox Series X is obviously the more powerful option, the Xbox Series S can still runs most popular titles launching this year at full 60 FPS, from Call of Duty Vanguard to Halo Infinite, and Xbox Game Pass is the cherry on top that sweetens the deal. If I was a parent looking to buy a younger relative a device to attach to a basic 1080p TV this Christmas, the Xbox Series S is almost always going to be the more obvious choice. This is especially true if they already own a Nintendo Switch, which may be approaching a market saturation point.

As we head deeper into the generation, more and more games are being made for Xbox Series X|S first, too, meaning the Xbox Series S is being utilized to its full potential more frequently than it has been in the earlier half of this year. The Xbox Series S is often cited as a big reason for Xbox's surge in Japan.

Microsoft couldn't possibly have predicted the global chip shortage, which has arisen in part from the surge in retail activity as the world emerges from pandemic-induced lockdowns. But it seems the dual-console play, which initially had analysts confused, could be right on the money.

Image (opens in new tab)

Grab the new Xbox Series S bundle at GameStop (opens in new tab)

While Xbox Series X remains impossible to track down, you might be able to score the more affordable Xbox Series S. It plays the same next-generation games as Xbox Series X, albeit better suited to HD gaming, rather than 4K resolution. It's also missing a disc drive, making this perfect for Xbox Game Pass and digital gaming. GameStop has stocked the first Xbox Series S bundle, bundling Fortnite and Rocket League bonuses at no additional cost.

Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Microsoft should be selling the S with a year of Game pass included. It would sell even better I expect
  • If the good XSS sales are due to lack of availability of XSX and PS5 then the scepticism regarding the XSS could still be valid. I suspect that it would still have sold fairly well regardless but we won't know for sure until availability of XSX and PS5 improves. That probably still won't give a realistic picture though, at least for a while, because there would likely be a bit of a rush on the two more powerful consoles from people who have been waiting and would normally have bought one earlier.
  • This data suggests it was one of the most wanted items, period, across all tech. That's impressive imo, and shows demand for a $300 box that can still provide a "lite" new-gen experience. Either way, if the chip shortage starts to clear up and people stop buying XSS, Microsoft may have hooked a few million people into XGP, which is what it ultimately wants.
  • What naysayers forget is TVs last a long time and there are a lot of 1080p sets out there.
    Why spend 40% more if you can't see the difference in most games? Bragging rights?
    The SS does the one thing a new console *must* do: play the new games well.
    And it does. It also does a great job of "remastering" old games, as documented in the recent Digital Foundry video. Which games are, btw, both good and cheap.
    Even without GAMEPASS a family with younger kids could get an SS and a dozen or more great gsmes for well under $400.
    That matters.
  • Because it's the only next gen in stock?
  • I'm impressed you took the time to comment, but not the time to read the very first paragraph of the article. Kudos to you.
  • Jez, your article is predicated upon the idea that XSS hardware is easier to produce. But it seems like you're just guessing that. If they're not easier to produce, then the consoles were sitting on shelves collecting dust until Black Friday. Your snark isn't really warranted.
  • Not only was it the only next gen in stock its still in stock at various locations. Usually when something is the "most demanded" you cant buy it easy, like the ps5 and xsx are near impossible. Had ppl standing outside at gamestop on thanksgiving day for over 10 hours for a chance at xsx and ps5 now that seems most demanded imo where xss is simply most availble. This the same guy who has been crying forza 5 wasnt nominated for goty award but also gave cyberpunk 2077 AT LAUNCH a perfect 10/10
  • You say that last part like there is something wrong with either of those things. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
  • So does it mean that the latest iPhone isn't the most demanded smartphone since you can easily buy it? Surface devices are the most demanded laptops since they are hard to find? Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are the best-selling smartphones since they are regularly out of the stock? Not everything is black and white. ;)
  • You ever wonder *why* it is in stock?
    You ever consider that with a shortage of wafers for the SOC chips and the LOCKHEART being half the size of ANACONDA MS is getting double the SS SOCs per wafer so the bigger supply is *intentional*?
    Because it is: Microsoft has been saying all along that they expect the SS to outsell the SX over the generation.
    The thing costs less than half to build yet sells for 60% of the SX. That is extra margin.
    There are more SS'es available because they built more.
    Available, cheaper, and it plays all the same games.
    Of course it's going to sell.
    That was the plan all along.
  • Okay, folks, here's my bit of anecdata.
    Take it as you will:
    I own an SX.
    My sister owns an SS.
    I play more and own several hundred XBOX games going back to the OG XBOX. Several dozen are on disk.
    She is all digital.
    We both got the same model TV this year. No, it is not 120HZ. We weren't going to spend double for that.
    It does support Hdmi 2.1, 4K/60, Dolby Audio, Dolby Vision, eARC, and zone backlight.
    I did the setup for her so I *know* how the two consoles perform on the same games.
    And the answer is: superb.
    At normal viewing distances of 8-10 feet on a 65" set it makes no *discernible* difference. She's loving FH5, HELLBLADE, and CONTROL. Also the newer LARA CROFT trilogy. Flight Sim is gorgeous. She still has her old XB1 and FIRE TV STICK 4K for video.
    No concerns.
    Real world use.
    Yes, she could have spent the extra $300 for the SX (via broker, like I did) but she doesn't need the drive nor the added storage. And $300 is $300.
    It's not about resolution wars or frame rate bragging but about fitting the tool to the task.
    To each their own, okay? That said, the signature development of the new console generation is this: internal rendering resolution is not the end-all, be-all metric of game quality. Sophisticated upscaling (DLSS, FFX, etc, plus SmartTVs with good upscaling themselves) means that at the eyeball level it makes little discernible difference whether the game is 1080P upscaled or native 4K. At best, 4K rendering is a luxury. At worst, a waste of hardware resources. Good enough is good enough and for a lot of people the SS is good enough.
    So get used to it: even when the $500 boxes are everywhere, the SS will still outsell them.
    Especially when it hits $200. 😊
  • Fuel for the masses that say Bill knew about covid 😂😂😂😂😂
  • Actually, he did. 😇
    He was warning of *a* global pandemic since 2005.
    So did Dubya.
    Dubya left the US with a massive stockpile of emergency supplies by 2008.
    Those that followed drew on those reserves but did nothing to refresh them. The rumors twisted the facts out of foolishness, but the fact is covid pandemic was innevitzbld..
    So is the next one.
    And the one after it. People see what they want to see and ignore embarrasing facts staring them in the face.
    Like the fact that a $300 good enough console will always outsell a $500 one.
    Like the SWITCH. But for "some" reason, not an XBOX.
  • It's a hell of a value-deal in todays overpriced GPU/computer market.
  • "The Xbox Series S by comparison uses less powerful internals, which are easier to source ..." Is this actually true? Does the S use chips that are easier to source? If not, it may mean the S models are actually a flop, and Black Friday/Cyber Week success is just consumers getting sloppy seconds.
  • Well, now...
    That's quite a leap there.
    You ever hear of "good, better, best" product marketing? The SS is built to be less powerful by design in *certain* aspects. That does *not* equal inferiority but rather suitability to task, which is a sign of superior engineering and marketing. As opposed to one-size-fits-all mismarketing. The SS isn't built with leftover or lower quality chips, rather a smaller SOC that has the exact same cspabilities as the SX but scaled down to match the power needed for 1080p/60. (With a bit to spare to reach 1440p/60 and occasionally native 4K). Ditto for memory and storage (with smart delivery, XBOX games only install the resources required for the supported resolution, so SS requirements are lower). CPU, ray tracing, ML hardeare, VRR, Variable sync support, the *full* slate of RDNA 2 are built in. Not inferior. Just (slightly) different. And 40% cheaper. SS is simply a 1080p version of the SX 4K experience.
    Try this (admittedly simplistic) look: a 4K image requires 4x the pixels as the same at 1080p--the SX has 12TF power so a quarter of that (all else being equal) is 3TF. The SS has 4.2TF which is why it can stretch to 1440P and occasionally more.
    (And 12TF isn't absolutely required, the PS5 does 4K/60 just fine with 9-10TF.)
    The SS is optimized for its mission and all reviews over a year agree it meets it: running new gen games. If you're coming from the PC world you should be familiar with video cards in the same family with the exact same features but tuned for different resolutions at different prices. XBOX is doing the same thing.
    They can do that because DirectX12 Ultimate is scalable: develop once, run on both. As I said above, not everybody has a 4K/60 TV nor wants to go and get one.
    In fact, as of March 2021, only 44% of US households had 4K TVs and a lot less had HDMI 2.1 sets. That is over 50% of the market that needs a new TV to see the difference between SS and SX max native rendering. So for those folks, getting an SX is overkill or having to spend on a new TV. In today's economy? The SS is not an afterthought, it is an integral part of the XBOX strategy for this console generation from the very beginning.
    And definitely not sloppy seconds.
    Folks that know what they're doing will be happy.
  • Is the 3060 sloppy seconds to the 3080 because the former is easier to get?