Microsoft’s most powerful console is being put to rest before even reaching its third-year birthday. In a stunning move, Microsoft announced that it will not be manufacturing any more Xbox One X consoles, and that the Xbox One line will live on through the considerably less powerful Xbox One S.
The News were stunning, as Microsoft’s policy of Xbox Series X seemed to perfectly fit the Xbox One X as the ‘bridge’ console between generations, as the 6 teraflop machine boosts even more impressive specs in some areas than the rumored Xbox Series S console that might launch alongside the premium Xbox Series X.
Microsoft confirmed the news to The Verge with this statement:
As we ramp into the future with Xbox Series X, we’re taking the natural step of stopping production on Xbox One X and Xbox One S All-Digital Edition. Xbox One S will continue to be manufactured and sold globally.
What are the reasons for the sudden move? We have made a list of possible reasons for you to consider:
1. The Xbox One X is a Pricey Piece of Hardware
Retailing from $400 to $500 on retailers such as Walmart (and as high as $600 on Amazon), the Xbox One X, two and half years into its lifespan has yet to drop in price even in the face of the upcoming Microsoft Xbox Series X. The price of the system creates a major problem for Microsoft.
The Xbox One X probably costs Microsoft too much to manufacture (even in 2020), to sell under $300 at retail. The issue here is that the rumored price for the Xbox Series X will be in the $400- $500 ballpark. No one in their right mind will purchase the Xbox One X after the Holidays, if conceivably the Series X will only cost $100 dollars more.
Apart from the confusion (from a marketing standpoint) that two different hardware configurations that carry the “X” brand (and four different Xbox consoles) would create amongst some parents, it is just not feasible to have two sets of consoles at similar price ranges when one of them (in this case One X) will be deemed obsolete in contrast to the Series X console as soon as the later one hits store shelves.
Which brings us to the next point on the list.
2. The Xbox Series S is Real
This is where it gets difficult to justify the Xbox One X’s continued production. The Series S is rumored to be even less impressive in terms of RAM and GPU than the One X… but it shares the same CPU and SSD drive with the more powerful Series X.
This means that Series S was designed from ground up to run the same games that Series X does (though considering the disparity in GPU and RAM specs we are not too sure how big of an impact late gen titles will suffer on the cheaper less powerful console) but with major cuts on screen resolution, as the system is rumored to support only 1080p and 1440p resolution modes.
Still, the rumored price for this console is $300. That leaves the Xbox One X, which as stated before can’t really retail for under that price point, in no man’s land, as it will not be an attractive sale in comparison Series S/X Next Gen Line up of consoles
3. The Xbox One X Did Not Sell a Lot of Units
This one is hard to prove with statistical facts as Microsoft hasn’t released Sales numbers that separate how many Xbox One X’s vs how many base and S models are out there. Common sense, however, dictates that it is possible that the Xbox One X has not sold more than ten million units.
While this number seems like a wild guess, it is actually, not that wild of a guess. The Xbox One had sold about 35 million units by the time that the Xbox One X hit store shelves. The Xbox One has sold 48 million units so far. That means that in 2 and ½ years it sold 13 million units. If the Xbox One X was lucky, it sold 7-8 million units (and that is being optimistic).
That’s not a high number of users, if you are going to choose between two platforms as a business you will always chose the one that costs you less to make and that sells at a higher rate. In this case, it is better to anger 6-8 million users than it would be to anger an entire 40 million installed base of users by correctly discontinuing the Xbox One X and the One S Digital edition.
As powerful, and as impressive as the Xbox One X has been as a home console, it arrived too late to save the Xbox One brand, and it hasn’t been as attractive a purchase, as Microsoft would have hoped.
4. The Xbox One X is Capable of Playing Games at Native 4K Resolutions
This one is more of a full fledged theory, but aside from the Xbox One X being expensive to manufacture, the system’s power might be the reason why Microsoft didn’t lower its price and phased out the Xbox One S instead.
If you are a late Xbox One X adopter that just came from years of playing games on a base PS4, the step up in visual quality (specially on a 4K TV set) is quite jarring. It is not quite a generational leap (as the same third-party games can be played on it), but going from 1080p, to 4K and in some cases 4k at 60fps is quite a leap.
These late adopters are not likely to jump into the Series X for at least another few years, which as much as Microsoft has touted – that forcing people into next generation consoles is ‘anti-gaming’ – gamers sticking to gaming on the Xbox One systems is exactly what the company doesn’t want. Microsoft wants to sell Series X and eventual Series S consoles.
By shrinking its console line up , it forces customers to effectively choose between low end 1.4 Teraflop Xbox One S, a system that is mostly incapable of even 1080p gaming, and will probably see drops to 720p with upcoming cross-gen titles, and the Xbox Series X which is a 12 Teraflop machine easily capable of outputting high end games at 4k resolutions, with a stable 60fps performance.
Microsoft has effectively removed the middle man, in order to make space of its next middle man in the Xbox Series S, which rumors and tech specs suggest is a 1080p-1440p machine.
Why Xbox One X Owners Should Be Concerned
This is the literal end of the Xbox One X marketing machine, and as thus, it could also be the end of the ‘One X’ enhanced games and patches that One X owners have been accustomed to. The fear here is that 3rd Parties will no longer optimize for the console, and the hope is that Microsoft Studios continue to work on optimizing the first party titles for the console.
It would be ethically wrong for Microsoft to abandon a premium device that has only been at retail for 2 ½ years. Phil Spence has touted that the Xbox ecosystem will work much like the PC gaming ecosystem does. By that logic, the fact that the One X has a GPU that is nearly 6 times as powerful as One S’s, and the massive boost in RAM (12 GB of GDDR5 RAM to One S’s 8 GB DDR3 RAM) will mean that games, even cross generation Xbox Series X optimized games, will run much better on the One X, by virtue of it having the better hardware.
The last concern is the visual ramifications that the move of canning the manufacturing of the One X will have on game trailers. Microsoft is likely now to just showcase Series X footage of games, and perhaps contrast the visual differences with the Xbox One S as opposed to the One X. No one spends time and money on marketing a system that they cannot longer sell.
Why Xbox One X Owners Shouldn’t Be Concerned
Microsoft stopped making Xbox One X consoles, it didn’t stop making games that would run on it. The support for it will last for as long as games are able to run on the base Xbox One S hardware. In that sense, all Xbox One owners are on the same boat.
Games should run better on its hardware than on the base consoles, and it is likely that Xbox One S production will stop too once the Xbox Series S is announced and/or is on store shelves. Since misery loves company, misery will not have to wait long.
It is strange that Microsoft pulled the plug the on most powerful console that is has ever sold under the Xbox brand. But the Xbox One X might be a cautionary tale for current owners to think twice about buying consoles late in a generation, especially if these consoles are pricey “mid gen refreshes”.
Farewell Xbox One X
Perhaps the biggest tragedy for the One X is that it never got a game built from ground up to take advantage of its capabilities, as all games had to run on base hardware. Being that Microsoft remains committed to the One S being the low-end base for all of their near future games, that reality isn’t likely to change either (though Series X might also suffer at first from this policy).
The Xbox One X fixed many of the hardware issues of its base console, and for a time the system reminded Xbox gamers of the old OG Xbox days where Microsoft was the king of console Hardware horsepower. The Xbox One X also symbolized a renewed committed from Microsoft towards the hardcore gamer, a commitment, and legacy that will continue to live on the Xbox Series X.