When Microsoft recently tried to double the price of Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, players were extremely displeased with the decision. Our own Jez Corden published a scathing criticism of the move, stating that with this change, Xbox Live Gold just became the worst deal in gaming. The negative feedback was so strong that in less than 24 hours, Microsoft reversed the new direction entirely. In addition to this, Microsoft is also planning to remove Xbox Live Gold subscription requirements from free to play multiplayer games in the near future as a sign of good faith, stating that it was "turning this moment into an opportunity to bring Xbox Live more in line with how we see the player at the center of their experience."
With this move, Microsoft will finally match Sony in this regard, as players have never needed to subscribe to PlayStation Plus to play free games. Paired with the Xbox Series S, this change will also make it easier than ever before to enjoy high quality free to play gaming at a low cost. Here's a look at why, as well as why the Xbox Series S is also a good deal even if you want to play paid games too.
Xbox Series S gives you a lot for less
One of the biggest benefits of free-to-play gaming is that it's free. Offering an excellent gameplay experience for no cost at all, free to play games are perfect for thrifty gamers and parents that are looking for affordable entertainment to give to their kids.
The Xbox Series S, with its low $300 price tag and small footprint, is the perfect console to match with free to play games. Not only is the console very affordable, but it's also remarkably tiny, and it doesn't demand hardware upgrades like the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 does to get the most out of it either. You might need to get a new entertainment center if you buy Xbox Series X due to its size and design, and you'll definitely want one of the best 4K TVs for Xbox Series X to make your purchase of the beefy $500 console worthwhile.
The Xbox Series S, on the other hand, targets a quality standard HD or 1440p experience, meaning whatever TV you already own is going to work just fine. The console itself is the size of a mere textbook, too, meaning you can easily fit it anywhere. There's no disc-drive as well, which means that there's no chance you'll ever have to care about getting proper storage for game cases. Ultimately, everything about the Series S, from its size to its capabilities to its MSRP, is designed to make access to a quality gaming experience as affordable as possible.
Xbox Series S delivers big performance in a small package
So, what's the catch? The Xbox Series S may be easy on your wallet, but does that mean you're sacrificing in-game performance? After all, competitive free to play games like Call of Duty: Warzone demand having a good framerate. The Xbox Series S being so affordable is great, but none of that matters if performance isn't up to snuff.
Fortunately, there isn't a catch — the Xbox Series S, despite its size, is more than capable of delivering butter-smooth 60 FPS for games like Warzone. If you have a 120Hz TV or monitor to play on, you can push well past 60 FPS in many games as well, which can help refine your gameplay skills. Before now, this type of experience was exclusive to the PC ecosystem, so the fact that the low-cost Series S can push over 60 FPS in many free to play games is fantastic.
The Xbox Series S is also more than capable of performing excellently with graphically-intensive games as well, which is ideal for people who want to enjoy AAA $60 releases on occasion. For example, the console can deliver a steady 60 FPS with ray-tracing and enhanced lighting while running Observer System Redux, which is impressive. This solidifies the Xbox Series S as a capable, dependable console that won't let you down whether you're playing high-stakes competitive games or games with stunning visuals.
Xbox Series S is perfect for future Game Pass subscribers
Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft's subscription service that aims to put hundreds of games at your fingertips for a low monthly price of $10. There's also Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which bumps the price to $15 a month but includes Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass for PC, which allows you to take the fun to your Windows 10 device.
This system has become hugely successful ever since its 2017 debut, and it's the best way for gamers on a budget to get access to countless other games if they're not interested in free to play games. Game Pass is also an excellent service for free to play gamers as well, as it provides them with a strong upgrade path that allows them to remain budget-conscious while getting access to tons of titles every month. This includes Xbox exclusives, as Microsoft has committed to bringing every Xbox exclusive to Game Pass at launch.
With its low cost and surprisingly excellent performance, the Xbox Series S pairs wonderfully with Game Pass just as it does with free games. This means that free to play gamers who may eventually want to use Game Pass or parents who want to give their kids access to many games without spending tons of money will love the value of the Xbox Series S and Xbox Game Pass combo.
What do you think? Do you think the Xbox Series S is fantastic for free to play gamers, including ones that may eventually want to expand into the Game Pass ecosystem? Let me know.
The Xbox Series S is available now for $300, while the more powerful 4K-focused Xbox Series X is available for $500. If you own one of these consoles already or are planning on getting one soon, don't miss our roundup of the best Xbox Series X and Series S accessories.
The full next-generation experience.
Xbox Series X is Microsoft's new flagship, as its most powerful console with over 12TF GPU performance and a custom SSD. It boasts up to 4K resolution and 120 FPS, full backward compatibility across four generations, and ray-tracing support.
Next-gen in HD
Experience next-gen gaming for less.
Microsoft serves the next-generation for less with its budget-friendly Xbox Series S. The console packs the same high-performance CPU and SSD technology as Xbox Series X, while scaling back the GPU and removing the disc drive.
Best of all worlds
Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold in one
Xbox Game Pass gives you access to over 200 games for one monthly fee. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also adds Xbox Live Gold to the package so you can play online with friends. You also get access to EA Play.
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