The Latest on Lockhart by Brad Sams for Thurrott
Here’s a fun fact though, the original launch plans for Lockhart was that it was going to be released in Mid-October. That may not sound all that surprising, but Anaconda, the series X, was going to release in late August; clearly plans have been adjusted since the conception of the hardware.
Obviously, none of this can be confirmed now, since plans would have changed due to COVID-19, but what a wild world it would have been to launch the next-gen Xbox in August!
If there is a lower powered Xbox launching near the launch of the Series X, I have a hard time imagining the two launching apart now. Say the Series X releases in November and the Series S aims for January, keeping the originally planned two month gap. There could be a lot of people miffed that the cheaper box came out after the Holiday shopping season. I see this as a dual launch now.
Launch timing aside, while I personally wouldn’t buy the cheaper, fewer-featured box, I imagine that the mass consumer would just go for the cheaper box. Microsoft is looking to deliver a killing blow at the start of this generation. Sony has two boxes, but they have feature parity, minus a physical disc drive. Microsoft will have two new boxes, with different performance, plus continuing cross-generation support for the Xbox One. Halo Infinite could be playable on six different pieces of hardware; Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, and PC (what a naming nightmare). That has to be a testing and optimizing mountain to climb.
No surprise that those dates have slipped and the announcement timeline for Lockhart has been far more fluid than we have seen in previous years. That’s why it’s a bit hard to lock down the exact date but the announcement should be coming sooner, rather than later.
But the big unknown will be the pricing. If the consoles were only $50 difference, even though consumers are typically very price sensitive, the overhead of launching two consoles with that difference doesn’t make much sense. The minimum price difference needs to be $100 or more to create enough of a gap to make the additional marketing and the cost of educating the consumer worthwhile.
$100 is the minimum difference these two Xbox consoles need to have. If the Series X costs $500 then that could lead to a $400 Series S. If the PS5 comes in over $500, Microsoft will dominate the pricing discussion. If they can come in clutch with the launch line up and promising games, then Xbox will have solid footing for the generation to come.