The next generation of consoles is arriving later this year, and Microsoft is the first to reveal a release date and price: The Xbox Series X and its less gargantuan sibling, the Xbox Series S, will be available on November 10.
The beefiest console will cost £450/$500/AU$749, while the Series S will only cost £250/$300/AU$499, though the cheaper model comes with some sacrifices. There's no disc drive, so it's downloaded games only, and it can't handle games at 4K. If you don't have a 4K TV, and you want an inexpensive gaming machine for when you're not at your desk, this seems like a pretty incredible deal.
Microsoft is also offering financing: For £21/$25 a month spread across two years, Xbox All Access will get you an Xbox Series S and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which comes to around £504/$600 total (about $60 less than the Series S and two years of Game Pass would cost separately). For the Series X, the monthly payment rises to £29/$35. If you want to keep Game Pass Ultimate (which includes PC games, by the way) after the two year plan expires, you'll have to keep paying for it, but the console will be yours.
Game Pass Ultimate is also being expanded quite a bit, with EA Play getting flung into the mix. It won't cost any extra, but you'll get around 60 of EA's console and PC games added to your digital library.
Normally, the arrival of a new console, especially one not made by Nintendo, makes me look mournfully at my bank account, but things are different these days. Microsoft is not only bringing its first-party Xbox exclusives to PC, it's even putting some of them on Steam. The price of the Series S is attractive, but I'm not yet convinced I need to add one to my shelf. If you were to use that money to upgrade to one of Nvidia's new RTX 30-series graphics cards instead, for instance, you wouldn't miss out on any games. (And in related news, Sony's also talking about putting more of its first-party console games on PC.)
Xbox Series X and S preorders go live on September 22 and the consoles will start shipping on November 10. Based on everything we know about the new Xboxes and the PlayStation 5, here's what we think they'll mean for PC gaming.