Now that Sony has unveiled the PS5 hardware one of the few remaining questions regarding the next-gen consoles is the price and neither company has offered anything too concrete. We have Microsoft saying that it "won't be out of position" on price and Sony even more confusingly saying PS5 will "emphasize value as opposed to price."
If an alleged insider that goes by "eastmen" is to be believed at least one next-gen variant for Microsoft will have Sony beat badly on pricing. Posting on the Beyond3d.com forums, the tipster had a barrage of information regarding Microsoft's gaming plans including both hardware and pricing information for the Xbox Series S (via BGR).
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Before we take a look at these claims, I cannot heap enough salt on this one, while Dutch tech blog TechTastic indicates that this individual has shared reliable information regarding Microsoft in the past, there isn't much evidence to support this claim.
Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S pricing and availability
The biggest bombshell that the alleged leaker had was on the pricing for both of Microsoft's next-gen consoles, but even assuming it is true it is at least partially speculation.
"Last I heard it be half the price of the XSX and last i heard MS were prepared for a $400 XSX. I am not sure what the final price will be. I think if sony is $500/$600 MS may try to go in at $200/$400/$500 but we will see."
This is towards the low end of our own expectations for the Xbox Series X pricing, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility. The statement that the Xbox Series S would be half that, or roughly $199 is the harder pill to swallow. That's $50 less than Xbox One S and while it can be assumed that Microsoft is willing to take some losses on the console hardware, it is hard to believe it could be this low.
But again, the alleged leaker does cover themselves with a range of potential pricing for the Xbox Series X, if it starts at $499 the Xbox Series S at $249 becomes much more plausible.
Naturally, this hardware would not be available at the same time as the Xbox Series X launch, they speculate that it will launch sometime in the spring of 2021.
Xbox Series S specs and design
Moving to the internals for the Xbox Series S, the alleged leaker mainly had performance targets rather than precise details.
"I heard 5-6tflops. I am assuming MS will want to get as close to 6tflops as possible to make the difference between the ps5 and lock heart closer. I was told it depends on clocks as lock heart is behind scarlet. I also hear[d] [L]ockheart is early next year, maybe [M]arch to [A]pril time frame. They are also targeting half the price of xsx
one goal I heard is they want it to run all games better than xbox one x to make it a clear upgrade path over the older systems."
These performance targets feel a little lofty given the price targets that we just discussed, but otherwise plausible goals regarding exceeding the performance of Xbox One X. Given the focus that Microsoft has placed on backward compatibility for this console generation, the company has to want to push upgrading even at the low end.
There were also some small hardware details that again fit what we know. Like the PS5 Digital Edition, this would drop the Blu-Ray drive of the Xbox Series X and it would feature a smaller form factor. These are both almost certainly true based on what we saw with the Xbox One S.
Microsoft's future plans for Xbox
Last, but not least the alleged leaker had quite a bit to say about Microsoft's plans going forward.
Much of it centers around a focus on Project xCloud and a desire to solidify itself as the Netflix of games. The claim is that Microsoft is working to acquire a number of other development studios including potentially Warner Brothers to allow them to have a steady stream of AAA Xbox Game Studios games to ensure both subscriber growth and retention for Game Pass.
While it seems unlikely that Microsoft would center on this focus in the short term given that it will still be trying to sell its high-end next-gen console, it is certainly a believable long-term goal for Microsoft and at present one that it appears closest to realizing with the combination of xCloud and Game Pass.