When Xbox revealed their next generation of consoles last year, there was a lot of conversation surrounding the design of the less expensive system, the Xbox Series S. The Series S doesn’t possess the same amount of power as the Series X, nor does it feature a disk drive for physical media. However, this difference in capabilities between Xbox’s two new systems is only half the story; the Series S also represents a strategic effort by Microsoft to develop its Xbox ecosystem.
While not possessing the same bells and whistles as those present in its more expensive counterpart, the Series S does offer a lot of power and options considering the cheaper price. Though the system isn’t able to play games at a 4K resolution, the sheer fact that it can run graphics intensive games at up to 2K resolution is impressive. This also ensures that people without a 4K capable television can enjoy newer games without needing to buy the Series X. In being designed to cater to budget-conscious gamers, the Series S’ more limited technology relative to the Series X becomes an unexpected strength.
This deliberate limitation becomes all the more pertinent when one considers frame rate in games, a complicated matter that even the most advanced of consoles aren’t equipped to handle. Many players get excited for games that are playable at 120 frames per second (FPS), but without a screen that has a refresh rate of more than 60 hertz (Hz), they aren’t guaranteed to reach that benchmark. Furthermore, setting aside new releases and those titles that received an update through the FPS Boost program, most of the games available on Game Pass max out at 30 FPS. Taking into account the current landscape of console gaming, it’s clear that the Series S is more than capable of running the latest games.
The Series S’ capacity for high-fidelity graphic rendering should, in theory, grow more obvious as the surrounding industry catches up with the system. While the console can’t run visually detailed games at the highest frame rates desired, that downside will cease to matter as the console gets further in its lifecycle. Over time developers should be able to acclimate to the console’s architecture, thus allowing them to create games that both run at a native 2K resolution and showcase a great frame rate. All that stands in the way of the Series S gaining well-deserved acclaim for its design is the natural passage of time.
Mentioned in various reviews, the size of the Series S is indeed remarkable in how it prevents questions of physical storage and system placement from becoming issues. The console is smaller than the Series X, ensuring that people can store it in their home entertainment unit or mount it to a wall without incident. So small is the Series S that it can be carried in a backpack, allowing the owner to bring it to friends’ houses or vacation spots. Without a doubt, the compact nature of the Series S speaks to a wider consideration for convenience on Xbox’s part.
Said centering of convenient design is made more apparent with the cloud saving feature. This ensures that gamers can pick up and play their favourite titles at any time, without fear of losing their place in a given game. On top of that, cloud saving also works across multiple Xbox consoles, meaning it’s possible to revisit a game in any room where an Xbox system is available. The degree to which the Series S’ cloud saving functionality helps serve the needs and whims of Xbox’s audience cannot be understated.
Not content to stop there, Xbox also made the decision to integrate Quick Resume into the Series S. This feature allows players to switch between four games at once, letting them resume play from the point at which they paused the games. Save for a lack of cross-system functionality with the Series X, this is a brilliant addition that highlights the degree to which the Series S is amenable to players’ wishes.
When the Series S was first announced, it was pushed to the side as the lesser of two options. Many people figured it would make more financial sense to pay the extra money for the more powerful Series X. That attitude, however, flies in the face of the Series S’ potential for promoting audience growth.
For instance, the Series S has made strides in using the promise of Xbox Game Pass to draw players deeper into the Xbox ecosystem. The Series S being digital-only ensures that the system is reliant on the Xbox marketplace and Game Pass for its game library. This in turn calls attention to the variety of quality titles included with Game Pass, which gets gamers excited about engaging with the wider Xbox brand. As with the matter of its reduced power, the built-in catalogue of the Series S acts as a solution to a hypothetical problem.
In the months since its launch, the Xbox Series S has been reappraised by gamers, who are beginning to grasp the system’s attractive qualities and offerings for casual players. The console commits to the all-digital concept that Xbox had previously explored with the Xbox One S All Digital Edition, building upon that solid foundation with a less costly barrier to entry and the focus on Game Pass’ ever-growing lineup. If the steady increase in community approval is any indication, the Series S is on track to become the major pipeline by which customers are converted into fans that Xbox has wanted for so long.