When the PS5 releases next month, it will do so in two variants, but these two variants are the exact same machines. One doesn’t have a disc-drive, but that’s it. When it comes to specs, they are identical. With the Xbox Series consoles, Microsoft is taking a different approach. The $300 Xbox Series S isn’t packing the same specs as the $500 Xbox Series X. It’s inferior in multiple measurements. And at the time of its reveal, some suggested Microsoft’s two-console approach would cause more work for developers, a claim Microsoft seemingly dismissed. However, in a recent interview, head of Xbox Phil Spencer acknowledged this claim as true.
According to Phil Spencer, part of the reason behind the two-console strategy is to expand the market. Of course, a $300 machine is much more appealing to a more casual consumer that doesn’t want to spend $500 to have a more premium experience. That said, while this could very well expand the market, it will also lead to more work for developers.
“But absolutely, it is work,” said Spencer on the topic. “There’s no doubt about that. The fact that you have two performance specs now, I’m not going to stand here or try to PR somebody and say two different specs is the same as having one spec. It’s not. We’re doing this because we want to expand the market.”
While Spencer is aware there’s more work for developers, he still denies that the Xbox Series S and its capabilities will hold back next-gen games, something some developers agree with, but others disagree with.
“I’m not worried,” said Spencer when asked about the Xbox Series S holding back next-gen games. “I think we have proof points, like we’ve said, on PC, that show that you can get absolutely amazing-looking games on great hardware and have those games scale to the hardware capability.”
For now, it remains to be seen just how much impact the Xbox Series S will have on the next-gen market. While we know the Xbox Series S will lead to more work for developers — which has consequences — the bigger talking point will likely be whether or not the machine hinders developers from creating truly next-gen titles. For this answer, we will need to play a game of patiently wait and see.