That’s according to a reasonably reliable tech tipster going by the name of eastmen on the Beyond3D forums, who claimed that a Microsoft insider tipped them off about an all-digital Xbox console that’ll be significantly cheaper than the Xbox Series X and the PS5.
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“Last I heard [it’ll] be half the price of the XSX [Xbox Series X] and last I heard MS [Microsoft] were prepared for a $400 XSX. I am not sure what the final price will be,” said eastmen. “I think if Sony is $500/$600 MS may try to go in at $200/$400/$500 but we will see.”
We’re seen mentions of a budget all-digital next-generation Xbox before, supposedly codenamed Project Lockhart (or Xbox Series S as some rumors suggest). Essentially, it would have no disc drive and likely less power than the flagship Xbox Series X, yet be capable of running games at acceptable resolution and framerates.
Given Microsoft has been tipped to undercut the PS5 with the Xbox Series X’s price, you might wonder why a second Xbox console is needed. Well, not everyone is willing to drop $400 on a dedicated gaming machine, so a cheaper alternative could have a lot of appeal.
Furthermore, an Xbox Lockhart is likely to be a game console designed to work in tandem with the Xbox Game Pass, which gives access to a wide range of Xbox games for a monthly fee. Having a console that could be bundled into the subscription, as well as supporting game streaming courtesy of Microsoft Project xCloud, could see Microsoft get more people to opt for its next console over the PS5.
Of course, Microsoft could make a loss by selling hardware at a cheap price. But eastman believes any loss will be compensated for through Microsoft’s game sales and subscription fees.
“MS will make up any losses they take by getting a higher cut of game sales and more subscriptions,” said eastman. “Pricing also depends on what Sony does. MS doesn't have to go as extreme in pricing if sony prices itself higher.”
As such, not only does an Xbox Lockhart console look more likely, it would have a good part to play in the overall Xbox ecosystem come the end of the year.
Mic drop in July
Microsoft is set to have a big Xbox showcase July, where we’re expecting to see first-party games and console exclusives like Halo Infinite get revealed. But according to eastmen, it’s going to be an even more significant event that just a retort to Sony’s June 11 PS5 games reveal event.
“From what I"ve heard from all my sources July isn't about Sony, July is about the industry and [Microsoft] want it to be a night of mic drops,” said eastmen. “They are going to come hard with the strategy they have been building up to for years and they want Google, Amazon, Apple, Sony and yes Nintendo to shaken up. So expect a series of mic drop moments followed by the price being the key part of all this.”
This could be a little on the hyperbolic side, but Microsoft has the size and scope to shake things up on an industry-wide level, thanks to all the tech and services it has under its corporate banner; Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform is one of the biggest in the world, for example.
So while Sony has a machine that looks like a standalone gaming device ready for exclusive titles like Horizon Forbidden West, the Xbox Series X seems just the tip of the iceberg for Microsoft's overall Xbox ambitions. July could be a very interesting month for next-generation gaming indeed.