According to their claims, Microsoft has once again created the most powerful console in the world. They did so with the Xbox One X, and they’ve allegedly done it again with the Series X. The problem is, it doesn’t really matter. We can sit here and talk about RAM speeds, hard drive sizes, teraflop performance power. 4K or 8K visuals, ray tracing, and more. But at the end of the day what matters is the games available to play, not all the fancy bells and whistles available to play them with.
Tech enthusiasts like me drool over spec sheets and bought Xbox One X’s because of the vapor chamber and things of that nature. However, Tech specs aren’t enough for the average consumer. The average consumer just cares about games, and the thing is, Microsoft is doing a horrible job of getting the average consumer to care about the series X. Not because the games shown for it look bad, they don’t. Microsoft is doing a horrible job of getting the average consumer to care about the Series X because of their play anywhere initiative and Xbox Game Pass.
The Play Anywhere initiative was Microsoft’s answer to the cries of PC gamers like myself that were upset with Microsoft’s lack of support for the PC gaming platform. As an end result, they decided that all, yes, ALL Xbox first-party titles would also come to PC, Gears 4 being the flagship title to christen the initiative. It was and still is a wonderful idea, some gamers prefer PC to console and hated losing out on games like Gears of War and Halo. However Play Anywhere soon merged with another Xbox creation, Xbox Game Pass.
Play To Your Hearts Content
Gamepass is essentially the Netflix of video games, dozens upon dozens of games at your fingertips. You can download as many games as you have space for on your hard drive and play to your heart’s content all for 10 dollars a month. That’s one-sixth the price of your average retail title! Sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it? It is! Soon after its announcement, Game Pass and play anywhere merged together and Microsoft announced that all first-party titles would be coming to Gamepass. They were so confident in Gamepass they allowed consumers to upgrade their Xbox Live subscriptions to Gamepass subscriptions for one dollar. Who wouldn’t? You could get access to Gears 5, Halo Infinite, and more at launch for just a fraction of the cost of a retail product. And that’s where Microsoft backed themselves into a corner.
Their play anywhere initiative and Gamepass support doesn’t just stay with the current generation of consoles. Microsoft has committed to supporting the Xbox One family of consoles long after the launch of the Series X, as well as continued PC gaming support. While that sounds fantastic on paper, in reality, they’re failing to give consumers any actual reason to buy a Series X at any point in time in the near future. If you’re a PC gamer like myself, every Xbox game you want to play will be available on PC, so you’ve got no reason to buy a Series X.
Lack of Incentive
If you own an Xbox One, the Xbox One family of consoles will continue to be supported for years to come, so why would you upgrade to new hardware? Fancy bells and whistles are nice. Higher graphical fidelity is great, but at the end of the day, new consoles are multi-hundred dollar investments. We can expect to spend between four and six hundred dollars on a new console launch using prices from previous generation launches as an estimate.
So why on earth would anyone without an ungodly amount of money to burn buy a Series X when the device they already have will play every single game they want to play just fine. Especially considering the fact that we’re in a global pandemic right now where finances are tight. Maybe your old console or graphics card won’t have all the extra graphical features and bells and whistles that the series X does. Maybe you won’t play Halo Infinite’s multiplayer at 4K 120 FPS, but who cares when your Xbox One works just fine? Why would you buy a series X when your gaming rig will play Grounded without a hitch?
Only Available On…
Compare Xbox to Sony with the Playstation’s approach. The only place on earth you can experience The Last of Us 2 is on a PS4. The only place on earth you can experience Spider-Man: Miles Morales will be on a PS5. Not PC, not Gamepass, not on the previous generation console family. Microsoft has given us more of a reason to buy Gamepass than they have to buy the Series X, and that’s unfortunate because it really does look like a cool piece of tech. One that might not get experienced to its fullest potential because there are other, cheaper ways to have the same experience Microsoft is offering.